We believe the best approach to corporate social responsibility is through embedding elements of social responsibility in our business model. Since our founding, we have been highly committed to sustainable corporate responsibility projects, both through charitable endeavors and by extending the benefits of our ecosystem to the community at large. Our major achievements and initiatives in the areas of corporate social responsibility include those described below:
The breadth of our ecosystem and the range of different types of service providers needed within it create employment opportunities. In addition to providing direct business opportunities for merchants, our ecosystem has created new opportunities for service providers in logistics, marketing, consulting, operations outsourcing, training and other online and mobile commerce professions. According to AliResearch, our research division, as of December 2016, it is estimated that our China retail marketplaces contributed to the creation of over 33 million direct and indirect job opportunities in China, including people working directly for online storefronts, service providers to merchants and other businesses across the value chain.
With the power of the internet, our platforms have leveled the playing fields for businesses in many aspects, helping to foster an inclusive economy for everyone to thrive and prosper. In fiscal year 2017, approximately half of the annual active sellers on our China retail marketplaces were female. In calendar year 2016, our China retail marketplaces supported the livelihoods of approximately 160,000 disabled sellers.
As we expand to rural areas in China and provide access to the urban consumer market, we have created opportunities for people living in rural areas to elevate their standard of living. Our Rural Taobao program gives rural residents greater access to goods and services as well as the ability to sell what they produce to the cities. In addition, communities of rural online entrepreneurs in impoverished areas have opened storefronts on our China retail marketplaces to effectively elevate their income levels. As of December 2016, AliResearch, our research division, has identified over 1,000 of these rural e-tailer villages, over 200 of which were in state- and province-designated impoverished counties.
Since 2010, we have earmarked 0.3% of our annual revenue to fund efforts designed to encourage environmental awareness and conservation as well as other corporate social responsibility initiatives. In 2011, we established the Alibaba Foundation, a private charity fund that focuses on supporting environmental protection in China and helping the disadvantaged, such as children born with heart defects in underdeveloped areas of China. In fiscal year 2017, we and the Alibaba Foundation made over RMB110 million (US$16 million) in donations to support more than 80 domestic and overseas charitable projects, including those hosted by the National Geographic Air and Water Conservation Fund, the Paulson Institute and the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. We have also leveraged our platforms to enable other charitable organizations to raise over RMB235 million (US$34 million) in donations in fiscal year 2017, which benefited over two million disadvantaged people.
Since September 2015, we have encouraged our employees to perform a minimum of three hours of service activities every year. In fiscal year 2017, this program saw over 140,000 hours of social service activities performed by our employees. In addition, we recognize the immense influence of our ecosystem and leverage it to extend the reach of our charitable work. In fiscal year 2017, our platforms facilitated approximately 4.7 billion charitable participations involving over 300 million consumers and over 1.7 million merchants. We encourage our merchants, consumers and other ecosystem participants to participate in socially responsible activities. For example, charitable organizations can set up storefronts on our marketplaces to raise funds and engage with volunteers. Merchants can designate a percentage of the sales proceeds generated on our platforms to go to charitable organizations. Consumers can contribute to charitable causes by purchasing these products or participating in charity auctions hosted on our platforms.
In running our day-to-day business, we are at the forefront in witnessing and understanding the social problems in China. We are committed to establishing a unique charitable ecosystem that focuses on innovation and scalability. We support and promote a number of charitable and socially responsible initiatives and programs in ways that we believe are in alignment with our core values and our mission. In 2016, the Research Center for Corporate Social Responsibility of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences named us one of the top 10 charitable enterprises in China and the top charitable private enterprise in China. In the same year, we were also among the first group of internet platforms recognized for charitable donations by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China.
We believe corporate philanthropy should not be limited to charitable giving. With a view toward long-term, sustainable philanthropy, we take the approach of developing commercially viable charity projects that are ingrained in products across a wide range of businesses in our ecosystem. In fiscal year 2017, we promoted 23 philanthropic products including: