JoinYou - Empowering women in poverty with group buy and direct sales

JoinYou - Empowering women in poverty with group buy and direct sales

Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

JoinYou (JY) serves low income women and communities in Hong Kong.
JY builds a social network for local women which increases employment. Over 34,000 middle-aged women live in Public Rental Houses in remote districts of HK, and are laid off or severely under-paid. JY's network provides training and explores their working potentials (e.g. a women offers day care to another in the same community).
The network grouped by JY sustains through selling daily commodity. The communities are exploited by chain supermarkets’ exorbitant markups, and suffer from "poverty penalty" defined by Prof. C. K. Prahalad. JY’s selling model increases women's income and lowers the communities' living cost (e.g. JY orders costing $100 would cost $140 in supermarkets).

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Hong Kong is a typically agglomerated city, with central occupied by the rich and remote districts by the poor. People living in remote communities have to suffer from both difficulty in employment (high commuting cost to the workplace in city central, few opportunity in remote districts) and poverty penalty (higher living cost than city central). Although Hong Kong government launched a plan to subsidize low-income commuters in 2006, the subsidy was comparatively too small, and the better solution seems to be increasing local working opportunities. The remote districts, such as Tin Shui Wai, were planned to have only large and concentrated shopping malls but not shops along the street. Thus most shops are owned by large corporate such as real estate developers. The lack of competition pushes up the commodity price and affects roughly 112,000 people.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

JY combines the group buy model with local people’s network (Tuentai’s network), which can save the high rental cost and other operation cost suffered by traditional retail models. By establishing this network, JY can connect otherwise isolated women within the community and create working opportunities. For the past few years, the Hong Kong Government has been working hard on relieving poverty in distant areas, mainly through employability training courses. These courses are paid by the government and yet considered of low efficiency: few job opportunities are available within the district while traveling to other districts to work is too costly. JY creates the needed opportunities. We believe learning through working is the best way to achieve future competitiveness. JY's various workshops, in the format of "grassroot" business schools, would boost and enhance Tuentai’s ability. The new retail model brings about fundamental solutions to the problem of poverty: increase income while decrease costs of living. It also builds closer bonds within the community. Lessened burden, improved employability, and better network shall promise Tuentai and their families a brighter future.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

JoinYou (JY) attains its goals by two main activities: building a vendor network of women, and providing related training. Women in the JY network are called Tuentai (Group Buy Housewives in Cantonese). They are responsible of collecting buying orders from neighborhood, and delivering the ordered daily used goods. JY sources affordable value goods directly from primary suppliers, and thus sustains the success of the network. JY also partners with several local NGOs and offer practical trainings to our Tuentai, e.g. computer skills, English and Mandarin, which are the musts to land a job in Hong Kong. Trainings are carried out in workshops, where Tuentai and anyone who like to join could learn and share their experiences.
About You
Organization:
JoinYou
About You
First Name

Shawn

Last Name

Xu

Twitter
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

JoinYou

Organization Country

, HCW

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NYL

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Ada and Ben, young entrepreneurs who have experience in both social enterprise (Ashoka) and traditional business (Mars, Shell, Deutsche Bank, KPMG) decided to devote their knowledge and innovation to solving our society's problems.
Since college they have been passionate change-makers. Together they founded BTP (Beyond the Pivot), a Hong Kong NGO organizing volunteer programs to Ghana, Mainland China and Hong Kong. Stayed in Hong Kong for three years, they are deeply inspired by the seriousness of poverty there. After graduation, Ben decided to withdraw a promising job offering and work on their social enterprise.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

JY has participated in 2010 Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge and was one of the two champions. Apart from securing key suppliers, JY also carried out close co-operation with communities. So far we have partnered with four large local community organizations, through which our women network is introduced.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

JY is confident about completing its ultimate missions. For the coming July and August, two marketing campaign events will be held to examine our product and price strategies. Meanwhile, our community team is developing the network of Tuentai with the cooperation of partner organizations.
Within the first year (starts from this September), JY aims at reaching 50 Tuentai and 1,000 households in Tin Shui Wai District. Within three years, we expect to serve 3-5 districts and gather 300-350 Tuentais, reaching a customer size of more than 7,500 households.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The major barrier of JoinYou’s business is that it takes time for targeted customer to acknowledge JY's business model and products. Before that, we will have quite a lot convincing to do. JY will build its image through marketing campaign events. Similarly to our previous test market events, JY co-operates with community organizations and have big discounts at the events.
The other barrier is the difficulty of persuading organizations and communities to join JY’s network. JY’s solution is to first establish cooperation with a few key or famous local organizations through personal network, and thus prove its model to other entities.

Tell us about your partnerships

JY has secured two key suppliers (Hong Kong) that produces daily chemicals. On the community side, two community organizations have agreed to help us build the community network and introduce potential Tuentai and another showed great interest in sales events. Several NGOs in Hong Kong, has showed enthusiasm in delivering training courses to Tuentai and their families.

Explain your selections

JY has received HKD 240,000 (USD 30,000) funding from the Hong Kong Government through Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge. We also collected HKD 360,000 (USD 45,000) from individuals.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

JoinYou plans to strengthen its project in two ways:
1. Keep looking for key partners: local NGOs, community organizations and suppliers. These parties are keys to JoinYou's success. Among these three, communities are of greater importance as this is the very portal for us to reach potential Tuentai.
2. Marketing and promotion: JoinYou hopes to build a friendly image in the community. We plan to spend 10% of total budget on marketing, including campaigns and sales events, so as to reach more Tuentai and customers. It is also crucial to distinguish us as a social enterprise.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Underemployment

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

JoinYou holds that the biggest challenge for the jobless women in Hong Kong is the inadequacy of jobs within their residential areas. Wages are much higher around the city center, yet it's just too costly to work there.
So we create jobs exactly where they live. Tuentai will not even have to leave their public houses to work, making lives easier for those with children to take care of.
The other challenges faced are lack of skill training and access to information and networks. JoinYou's training and meeting sessions, in cooperation with local NGOs, shall provide the necessary skills, information and networks.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

TERTIARY

Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

In the near future, JoinYou hopes to enhance its impact through adding new features. We hope Tuentai, the middle-aged women could become real entrepreneurs, and host businesses through our help: JoinYou acting as a supplier, and they would have their own vendor business selling different products.
They would be able to use the existing network, and have their own Tuentai for business. This in turn boosts employment in these distant areas.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

NGOs would provide professional skill training to our "Tuentais", while university students will act as a main volunteering force in JoinYou's daily operation. We also encourage the collaboration of these two parties, bringing more college students to communities.