A guest post by Haitao Yu, Ph.D Candidate at Ivey Business School and TFF Next-Gen Council Member.

Haitao Yu will be teaching the Specialization Track ‘Scaling-up Rural and Community-Driven Entrepreneurship’ on July 25 at the TFF Academy.

Haitao is a Ph.D Candidate at Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada. A member of an ethnic minority in China, born and grew up on the Tibetan Plateau, Haitao is interested in organizations in Indigenous communities around the world especially in the Tibetan Plateau, Canada and Latin America. 

Haitao has committed himself in making the world better and had been working in the field of sustainability in China, France, US and Cambodia for two years before coming back to academia.

In Ancient Futures, Hodge described how Ladakh (or “Little Tibet”), a substantive social system in northern India, collapsed from a system of pristine environment and happy people into a system full of problems accompanied by the introduction of Western-style development projects. In this process, inappropriate economic activities overrode the traditional worldview of community solidarity, self-sufficiency and ecological harmony and changed how people individually and collectively live their lives.

After four decades’ improper economic development, Ladakh became a place with polluted air and water, unemployment, religious conflict, eating disorders and youth suicide.

Ladakh’s fragile ecosystem is under the threat of tourism development

Since the end of World War II, development’s ends have been seen to justify the means, despite some unexpected social and ecological consequences like inequality and pollution.

Today, however, an alternative model of development, sustainable development (SD), has been proposed and accepted. SD emphasizes more about how we survive the future, arguing a balance between meeting the needs of the present and those of the future.

The Specialization Track at the TFF Academy intends to illustrate an SD model by using a case study of Norlha Textiles, a community-based business that serves nomads in a transitioning era on the Tibetan plateau. Norlha is a luxury company that designs, produces and sells yak wool textiles made by nomads on the Tibetan Plateau.

The company was created in 2007 with the mission to help Tibetan nomads to adapt to the fast-changing modern world while preserving their traditional landscape and culture by capitalizing local raw materials into high value-added products that can last for generations. The Norlha atelier is located at Ritoma, a village at 3200 meters above the sea level in West China. By 2018, the company employs around 10% of the local population through selling textile products in the global luxury market.

The Norlha Workshop in the Ritoma Village

What you will learn: 

  • Identify the challenges faced by an indigenous community in modernization and globalization
  • Identify the place-based resources and liabilities and how organizational members take smart actions to leverage the resources and mitigate liabilities
  • Understand a community-based enterprise, and its potential to offer an alternative to the dominant industrial business model for sustainable development


Curious to travel – at least virtually – to the rural communities of Ladakh?  Join this fascinating Specialization Track, curated and moderated by Haitao Yu at the TFF Academy this July.