Alibaba earmarks 100 billion yuan towards China’s common prosperity goal, responding to call to narrow nation’s wealth gap

Alibaba Group Holding, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, said it will set aside 100 billion yuan (US$15.5 billion) towards promoting “common prosperity” in China, making the biggest single corporate pledge in response to a government call to narrow the nation’s wealth gap.

The allocation will be disbursed before 2025 to promote investments in technology, support small businesses, foster development in rural areas, help small business expand overseas and improve the welfare among gig-economy workers, according to a report by state-owned Zhejiang News, based in the company’s home province.

The contribution includes a 20-billion yuan fund earmarked to help Zhejiang become a model for common prosperity, the report said. The move follows the call last month by Chinese President Xi Jinping for companies to “adjust” the prevailing high income levels, in a prod for wealthy individuals and companies to “give back to society.” Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma is one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in China.

A customer at Alibaba’s rural service centre in Jinjia village in Tonglu county of Zhejiang province on July 20, 2015, established by the e-commerce platform to help rural farmers sell their produce all over the world.

Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest games publisher and Asia’s most valuable company by market capitalisation, earmarked US$7.7 billion last month following a similar pledge in March towards its common prosperity fund. The fund will be used to help lift low-income groups, improve health care coverage, contribute to rural economic development and support grass roots education.

Chen Lei, the chairman and chief executive of e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, said during his company’s second-quarter earnings call that the firm launched a 10 billion yuan agriculture initiative to help rural residents whose average income was a third that of urban residents.

Author: Jane Zhang, SCMP

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