To support China’s pledge to alleviate national poverty by 2020, the city of Changsha launched the ‘New Channel’ initiative. This programme supports employment and skills development of indigenous groups in rural areas, allowing them develop traditional handicraft and local products in a sustainable, innovative way. In partnerships with the Hunan University’s School of Design, students will have the opportunity to work with the local artisans, in the brainstorming and redesigning of the region’s traditional artisanship. This exchange enables the local residents to cultivate a spirit of innovation and inspires the students to become active participants of social and public service. So far, the programme has successfully created economic growth and increased employment within the area. In turn, the standard of living for residents has improved and environmental sustainability has been enhanced by the introduction of modern technology promoting the use of green environmental solutions in business.