South China University of Technology (SCTU) was assigned to support poverty reduction in Yun County. The university and the county have jointly established a robust poverty prevention mechanism driven by SCTU, Yun County and social forces and connecting brand building with industrial and educational development. In September 2018, Yun County was taken off the list of poor counties, becoming one of the first counties to be successfully lifted out of poverty in Yunnan Province.
In-depth research on the challenges and opportunities for Yun County’s future development. Located in the southwest of Yunnan Province and covering an area of 3,760 square kilometers, Yun County administers 7 towns, 5 townships, and 194 villages (communities), with a total population of 463,000. There are 22 ethnic minority groups living in the county, among which the Yi people has the largest population. The county is sparsely inhabited, with 95% of all population living in mountainous areas. It was among the 592 key counties listed in China’s national poverty reduction program and one of counties situated in a concentrated poverty-stricken area in the western part of Yunnan Province. Through 6 years’ hard work on poverty alleviation, by the end of 2018, the impoverished population of the county had dropped from 52,800 at the end of 2012 to 813, while the poverty headcount rate had also decreased from 11.7% to 0.24%.
Brand-led strategy driving industrial upgrade on all fronts. SCTU designed a brand-led strategy to promote the upgrade of five core industries in Yun County, namely tea, chicken, alcohols, fruits and water industries, based on the county’s advantageous natural resources and local leading enterprises’ existing strengths and needs as well as the university’s strong disciplines such as food, chemical engineering, and brand communication. By creating a brand platform, it helped local enterprises develop an acute sense of brand building and mainstream it into their development strategies.
Industrial upgrade supported by multichannel educational funding. The brand-led strategy enabled the steady growth of major industries in Yun County, the development of a more mature local market, and the establishment of a self-sustaining mechanism for local industries. The county achieved an upgraded and renewed industrial chain, which effectively boosted local economic growth and supported local educational development with sustainable multichannel funding.
Poverty alleviation through revitalizing education and drawing on the joint efforts of government, society and the market. With the support of direct governmental inputs and educational funds, the county worked with SCTU to develop a new poverty alleviation model, which focused on not only the development of primary, secondary and higher education but also the promotion of training for government officials and enterprise leaders.