• Telling the Story of Rural China

    Laotu is a social enterprise shaping green consumption in emerging markets, promoting a cutting-edge sustainable development scheme for China and the world.


  • Rooted in environmentalism, Laotu fosters conversations between urban and rural China through local stories. It is in this dialogue that Laotu inspires sustainable cultural, environmental and economic development for all of China. Through a blend of ecotourism, education, and cultural programs, Laotu helps to create new public perceptions about rural areas and development. With this education, Laotu informs and excites advocates of policy change, consumer education, and community-based conservation.


    Yi Luo

    From Shenzhen, China


    Master of Social Sciences, University of Chicago


    Bachelor of Environmental Analysis and History, Claremont McKenna College

    • United Nations Champion of the Earth Award, Recipient of China
    • Shenzhen City’s 10 Excellent Youth
    • 2019, Top 10 Chinese Social Innovators Under 30
    • 2020 G20 Young Global Changer
    • Team Member of Homeward Bound Global Women Scientist in Antarctica
    • Representative of China Communist Youth League Committee of Guangdong Province
    • Director of Shenzhen Longhua District Overseas Friendship Association
    • Counselor for Shenzhen Cuizhu Foreign Language Experimental School



    Project Manager

    Once a Course-in-the-Mountain alumna, Echo is now the project manager of Laotu. She graduated from Sydney University, majoring in Sociology and Political Economy. Having lived, studied, and worked across three continents, she is now looking for the next destination in life.


    Operations Director

    Graduated from Sun Yat-Sen University, Estelle has a stoic exterior but is soft on the inside. She has worked in marketing for several years and now uses data to communicate the principles of sustainable lifestyles. She is responsible for existing project management at Laotu.

    Dong Yangpeinachen

    Project Planner

    Graduated from Renmin University of China, Dong is responsible for project management and operations at Laotu. She is primarily concerned about social innovation and enjoys language learning, blogging and podcasting. She also produces Laotu's podcast: You Yisi.


    Youth Fellow

    Despite growing up in a small city famous for classical gardens and slow-paced lifestyle, Dan decided to expand his horizons and move to eSwatini. This two-year experience helped him realize that the future depends on connecting the livelihoods of the city and the village. Inspired by Laotu, he joined the team to begin creating these connections.

  • Past Team Members


    Youth Fellow

    Sam is a lover of classical instruments and pop music, attending Houde Academy in Shenzen. He knows nothing about dancing but is fond of Theatre and productions from Quentin Tarantino and the Nolan brothers, and his idol is Ernest Hemingway. He grew up in Shenzhen, but now lives in the US.


    Youth Fellow

    Studying at Rhodes College, she is a programmer specializing in the harp. She has taught herself in more than ten musical instruments, and participated in the acting and directing of theatrical performances. She loves acrobatics, archaeology, and criminology and is always looking for new fields to explore.


    Youth Fellow

    Studying the Economic Tripos at University of Cambridge, she mainly investigates development economics. Besides having directed drama, films, and documentaries, she has also been a devotee of Musicals and Rock Music. She always embraces the opportunity of meeting new friends and trying new things.


    Youth Fellow

    A Gen-Z girl with broad interests, including humanities, fashion, and food, Doris has always been on the path of trying new things. She grew up in Hangzhou, and is a student in the Smith College Class of 2024.


    • 2016, incubated at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    • 2017, SEE Foundation Social Innovator Award
    • 2018, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Champions of the Earth Award, Chinese Recipient
    • 2018, 2019, Coordinator for China in EU-China NGO Twinning Program
    • 2019, Laotu becomes the youngest NGO project to win “Road to Ecological Culture, Salute Environment Protectors” Award, sponsored by the Ministry of Environment of China, China Environmental Protection Foundation and China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation
    • 2019, in the commemorative event of China’s May Fourth Movement, Laotu was invited to participate in the symposium held by the municipal government and mayor of Shenzhen
    • 2019, received Good China SE (Social Enterprise) Certification issued by China Charity Fair

  • Projects incubated at Laotu have repeatedly placed in the top ten of both the China Charity Fair Top 100 Public Welfare Projects and the Youth Entrepreneurship Competition in Shenzhen Longhua District and Yantian District.

    Laotu is a…

    Board member of Shenzhen Yantian Youth Federation


    Outstanding Cooperative Organization of the Shenzhen Youth Federation


    Board member of the International Youth Musicians Association


    Employer Representative of the University of Chicago Yuen Metcalf Internship Program


    Partner of the International Youth Forum on Ecological Civilization, California, U.S


    Strategic Partner of Xuebaoding National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province

  • Laotu is also a...

    Research team and director of documentary for CCTV on the 40-year anniversary of Reform and Opening Up


    Curator of the 2017-2018 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture


    Curator of the special exhibition “Wenxin” for the 10-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake


    Co-manager of the symphony concert in Enshi Tenglong cave, the largest natural cave in Asia


    Curator for HUI, the first Chinese female clothing brand to be featured in Milan Fashion Week, organizing a multimedia video exhibition on the traditional culture of China’s ethnic minorities for 2019 Milan Fashion Week


    Click on the pictures to learn more


    (At a Glance)

    Mainstream media, such as Global Times, New York Times, People.cn and Guangming Daily consistently cover Laotu and our work


    We at Laotu love to share our experiences in social enterprise, rural vitalization, and natural conservation. To turn this knowledge into a dialogue, Laotu representatives have spoken at multiple forums and conferences. Here are a few of the places that have heard from us firsthand:

    • 2018 Social Innovation Forum, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

    • Tübingen University, speaker on sustainable agriculture and social entrepreneurship in China, at China Center

    • United Nations Champion of the Earth China ceremony

    • Top 10 Under 30 Social Innovator of China award ceremony

    • “Rebuilding Hometown” Panzhihua Idea Meeting

    • “Leading: Chaoshan NGOs in ten years” Forum speaker

    • Guangzhou University, speaker on non-profit and social innovation

    • Global Environmental Institute

    • Dragon Cloud forest school

    • Center for Rural Vitalization and Social Innovation at Tsinghua University

    • Shaoguan Rural Vitalization Conference



    SEE Foundation

    Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennial


    Friends of Nature

    Developers 4 Development

    Luohu Social Innovation Space

    Yu Foundation

    China Agricultural University

    Naturland e.V.

    China Central Television

    Chinese Communist Youth League

    One Foundation and One Lab

    Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

    China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation

    Phoenix Satellite Television

    China Environmental Protection Foundation

    Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

    Stoooges Education

    The United Nations Development Programme

    United Nations Environment Programme

    China Climate Change Action Network

    Vanke Foundation

    China Association for NGO Cooperation

    Stiftung Asienhaus

    Stiftung Mercator

    Robert Bosch Stiftung

    807 social innovation space

    Green Circle Zöld Kör

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Homeward Bound

    The University of Chicago

    University of Tübingen

    Sanjiangyuan Ecological Environment Protection Association


    One Way Street Bookstore, Beijing

    Cantonese Farmer’s Market

    Four Seasons Share Organic Farm

    Chengdu Roots & Shoots

    Rural Women Development Foundation

    Tomoroe Education

    ACE Youth

    The Nature Conservancy

    UChicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

  • More...

    Asian Youth Musician Association


    Waldkindergarten Eichhörnchen e.V. Tübingen


    Dr. John Cobb Jr.


    Jiannan Si Ma


    Professor Hu Yuegao


    Xuebaoding National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province


    Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province


    Wanglang National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province


    Pingwu County Government, Sichuan Province


    Lichuan City Government, Hubei Province


    Communist Youth League Committee of Futian District, Shenzhen


    Communist Youth League Committee of Longhua District


    Political and Law Committee of Shenzhen Futian District


    Publicity Department of Shenzhen Futian District


    Lichuan Municipal Committee


    Lichuan Municipal Committee Publicity Department


    Panzhihua Municipal Committee


    Lishui, Zhejiang


    Sanjiangyuan National Park

    Qilian Mountain National Park


    Liangzhiyuepin Organic Farm


    Puhan Cooperative



    Shenzhen Vanke


    Meisha Academy


    Shenzhen Houde Academy


    Shenzhen Middle School


    Shenzhen Cuizhu Foreign Language Experimental School


    Shenzhen Donghai Experimental School


    Guangdong Experimental School


    Address: Chicago, Illinois, U.S. /Shenzhen, China /Chengdu, China


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