Thanks to Alibaba, China’s answer to eBay, more 20,000 men just made a very quick buck. From July 15 to 17, the e-commerce giant advertised a special deal offering 5,000 yuan — about $800 — to sperm donors. The initiative was an attempt to help restock Chinese sperm banks, which are currently weathering a bit of a drought.
Alibaba already serves as an eclectic marketplace for the gamut of goods, but venturing into the sperm donation business took the company to the next level. It served as an interface for shy men by connecting these potential donors to seven sperm banks. Alibaba made the donation process as easy as possible: To register, men just had to provide their name, the last six digits of their ID numbers, and an email address. They’re also given three months to muster up the courage to show up at the sperm bank in person.
China’s chalking up its sperm bank shortages to higher infertility rates. According to the China Population Association, more than 40 million citizens aren’t able to produce children. Rising infertility could result from a number of factors, such as embarrassment about relying on outsider sperm, environmental issues, and rising work pressure. With sperm banks unable to perform, some people are turning to the sperm black market. Yes. It’s a thing.
It isn’t clear how much Alibaba profited from this supposedly philanthropic venture, but it did at least succeed in raising awareness about infertility — and in discovering the men who are happy to help.