Why entrepreneurship flourishes in the countryside - Deepstash
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We see the rural as backward

We see the rural as backward

When we think of tech, we often think of cities. When we think of the countryside,  it's a place that's lacking tech and digital media literacy.

  • Yet there are places like the pearl-producing towns of Zhejiang and places in rural Indiana, where online pearl parties flourish.
  • Rural families manufacture for online lifestyle brands in the US.
  • Influencers in rural China make live stream videos of themselves eating chilli peppers, picking tea or hunting bamboo rats.
  • There are pockets of e-commerce that are sourced from rural manufacturers in China, made by families. 


25 reads

Larger scale innovation

Larger scale innovation

On a larger scale, rural areas are connected through global market forces.

For example, soybeans grown in Brazil are shipped to industrial hog farms in southern China.

Alibaba, the internet giant, is partnering with farms to use AI and computer vision to create highly optimized pigs to scale up pork production.


22 reads

What happens when tech and the countryside intersect

Large farms see their work as inputs, outputs, land value and land ownership. Small farmers frame their work as one of ecology and stewardship. Their land is a place of relations.

The tech that we imagine to be solutions, such as online coding classes for farmers or factory work in cities, are framed as one-way relationships, with tech supposedly benefiting rural areas. But when we see things like AI farming pigs at scale or small farmers turning their land into pearl ponds, it is not because tech found a solution. It is because small farmers can't compete on a global scale.


19 reads

The people, not tech, should steer decisions

The people, not tech, should steer decisions

Much of the technology revolves around our consumption and entertainment in the cities. But the most thoughtful innovation is happening in places outside of Silicon Valley or San Francisco. 

Tech alone is not always the solution. In Yangguang, a rice-farming village, the local agricultural bureau encouraged farmers to implement chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and industrial farm machinery. The modern protocols led to a decline in soil quality. The villagers turned this around with organic farming. While tech did help the village steward their land, the people, not tech, steered the decisions.


12 reads

Scaling across time

Scaling across time

The approach that is without boundaries and ambitions to scale reminds us of the humility and innovation, the ability to change political and social structures.

Tech should be seen as affecting a set of relations, ecologies and environments. In the village, innovation is an ecosystem that doesn't scale across thousands of users but across the spectrum of time, regenerating the soil and community ties from season to season. 


8 reads



Surveyor for building control


Some of the most thoughtful innovation is happening in the world's rural communities. This talk advocates for a new view of the countryside. It is not places lacking in tech but centres of humble innovation that emphasize community and sustainability.


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