Endogenous inclusive development of e-commerce in rural China: A case study

Ping Gao, Yajun Liu (Corresponding)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper advances understanding of the process and mechanism of endogenous inclusive development of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions. We present a case of a bottom of the pyramid (BoP) community in a rural area in China, which has achieved sustainable furniture e-commerce development independently. The case study demonstrates that e-commerce development in a disadvantaged area can start from a seed business model targeting a niche market with simple products, which will incur low costs and low skill requirements for entrepreneurs, and is thus able to scale up within local BoP community. In the second stage, BoP entrepreneurs must engage in intensive learning from the seed entrepreneur and other early movers to gain the required capabilities for operating the seed business model. In the last stage, BoP entrepreneurs need to focus on business model innovation and scoping, and form a local value chain and ecosystem for e-commerce development. Throughout the e-commerce development process, a seed entrepreneur plays specific critical roles at each stage. Practical implications for the BoP community to take advantage of ICT innovation to achieve sustainable development are given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1630
Number of pages20
JournalGrowth and Change
Issue number4
Early online date26 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020


  • bottom of the pyramid (BoP)
  • capability
  • constraint
  • e-commerce
  • endogenous inclusive development
  • rural China
  • seed business model

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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