Alibaba Group has been highly committed to sustainable corporate responsibility projects, both through charitable endeavors and by extending the benefits of its ecosystem to the community at large. Alibaba Group believes the best approach to corporate social responsibility is through embedding elements of social responsibility in its business model. Alibaba Group's achievements and initiatives in the areas of corporate social responsibility include those described below:
The breadth of Alibaba Group's 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, the 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, Alibaba's research division, as of December 2015, it is estimated that Alibaba Group's China retail marketplaces contributed to the creation of over 15 million job opportunities, including people working directly for online storefronts and service providers to merchants.
With the power of the Internet, Alibaba's platforms have leveled the playing fields for businesses in many aspects making it an inclusive place for everyone to thrive and prosper. In fiscal year 2016, approximately half of the active sellers on Alibaba Group's China retail marketplaces are female. Alibaba Group also has programs that create equal opportunities for everyone such as cloud customer service program for people with disabilities, entrepreneur programs for university students and Rural Taobao partnership program targeting entrepreneurs returning to their villages to start businesses. Alibaba Group has also established entrepreneurial funds in Hong Kong and Taiwan to support the career and entrepreneurial aspirations of young people locally.
As Alibaba expands to rural areas in China and help rural farmers reach urban consumers, it has created opportunities for people living in poverty to elevate their income levels. For the twelve months ended March 31, 2016, merchants in over 800 state designated poverty counties in China in aggregate generated GMV of over RMB20 billion on Alibaba Group's China retail marketplaces.
Alibaba Group supports and promotes a number of charitable and socially responsible initiatives and programs in ways that it believes are in alignment with Alibaba Group's core values and mission. Since 2010, Alibaba Group has earmarked 0.3% of its annual revenue to fund efforts designed to encourage environmental awareness and conservation and other corporate social responsibility efforts. In 2011, Alibaba Group established 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.
Over RMB400 million. In fiscal year 2016, Alibaba Foundation made over RMB210 million in donations to support various charitable causes and initiatives. Alibaba Group has also leveraged its platform to facilitate other charitable organizations to raise over RMB190 million in donations.
Over 60 projects. In fiscal year 2016, Alibaba Foundation supported more than 60 charitable projects, including those hosted by The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic Air and Water Conservation Fund, Paulson Institute and Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. For example, the Foundation supported the development of Wei Lan Map mobile app that exposes pollution hotspots in China and the companies and factories responsible for it on a map. Hundreds of corporations have made press releases about the data exposed by this app while a portion of these corporations have reacted by taking actions to rectify the problems exposed.
Over 130,000 hours. Starting from September 2015, Alibaba Group encourages employees to perform at a minimum three hours of charitable activities every year. Since the program's inception until the end of fiscal year 2016, this program saw over 130,000 hours of social service performed by Alibaba Group's employees.
Over 3.3 billion participations. Alibaba Group recognizes the immense influence on its ecosystem and leverages that to extend the reach of its charitable work. In fiscal year 2016, Alibaba platforms facilitated over 3.3 billion charitable participations involving over 280 million consumers and over 1.5 million merchants. Alibaba encourage its merchants, consumers and other ecosystem participants to participate in socially responsible activities. For example, charitable organizations can set up storefronts on Alibaba Group's marketplaces to raise funds and engage volunteers. Merchants can designate certain percentage of their sales proceeds generated on Alibaba platforms to go to charitable organizations. Consumers can contribute to charitable causes through purchasing these products or participating in charity auctions hosted on our platforms.