Customers shop at one of Buy42's six brick-and-mortar charity stores in Shanghai.
Shanghai company offers people with disabilities employment opportunities
Yu Shiyao's charitable aspirations have been fulfilled years ahead of schedule because of a chance sighting on social media.
"I'd planned to work at a large enterprise after graduation, develop my connections and earn enough money before committing to public welfare undertakings," the 31-year-old said.
But those plans changed when she saw a micro blog for Buy42, an online charity store, during her graduate studies in the United States.
Yu was attracted by the nonprofit, based in Shanghai, that encourages people to donate unused items to its online bazaar, the proceeds of which go toward buying shoes for elderly people recovering from leprosy.
Born in Zhejiang province, Yu has endeavored to do charity work based on her professional knowledge of data analysis and her keen interest in marketing and research.
"It's common for charities to follow the same business model in the US and European countries," said Yu, who was inspired by the numerous charity stores in the US.
"Buy42 combines e-commerce with charity and offers people with disabilities employment opportunities, which is a new public service model in China."
Immediately after graduation in 2011, Yu returned to China and joined the Buy42 group as an intern. She is now CEO of the organization.
Apart from the online shopping store, Buy42 has six brick-and-mortar charity stores in Shanghai and is expected to have 40 stores by the end of this year. In addition to more than 20,000 registered individual donors, companies including Alibaba, Adidas and Intel have cooperated with Buy42 to organize public welfare activities.
However, the young CEO said she has not forgotten how things were back in 2011 when she joined a team with only five members.
"Collecting donations was tough," she said.