The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Lotusroute - Yunnan

Our support

We have provided support to a literacy and community business project in a number of Naxi ethnic minority villages, near Lijiang, Yunnan Province.

Over three years, the project is expected to include encouraging the use of libraries in the villages ; homework clubs for local children ; adult literacy programmes ; and small business training/development for local people. Other initiatives may be established as the project develops. Volunteers from Scotland are already working with local people to deliver these outcomes.

The project is a joint venture initiated by the Scottish charity Pure Media UK and delivered by project partner The Big Social Innovation Movement, in close co-operation with the local community in each village.

Background to our partners

The villages

Photos courtesy of Pure Media UK and Amy Britten

The work of the project is focused on several small but vibrant village communities of Naxi ethnic minority people, with a population of several thousand people. They are around 15km from Lijiang and located at the base of Jade Dragon Mountain (and also, coincidentally, very close to the field station operated on the mountain by the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh). The local economy is primarily based on agriculture and tourism - Lijiang is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. The communities are keen to find a way to develop more productive eco-tourism businesses, notably to celebrate their unique Naxi cultural heritage, but to do so in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.


Lotusroute is a project of The Big Social Innovation Movement, based in Dundee. It is an international hub of social innovators and creative people making positive change in the world. Using a range of resourceful devices and processes they help communities find solutions to their own problems, and are currently undertaking projects in Scotland, India, South Africa, Uganda as well as in China.

Outcomes and lessons

Update January 2014

Lotus Route has now been working in the area for around a year. They have made good progress, developing excellent working relationships with the communities in several villages. A number of initiatives are now being pursued :

  • developing a local volunteer team

  • English teaching and homework clubs for local school children, both primary and secondary

  • the preservation of local ethnic minority culture, notably by collecting stories from elderly people in the villages, as oral history, and creating oral, visual and written libraries of personal histories of the area

  • plans for several social enterprises involving local people

All involved with this project are congratulated for their excellent progress so far.

Update May 2016

We made a small additional award to the Yunnan project as part of our final award package.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.

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