|Shao takes a photo with her family members. [Xinhua]|
Shao Chengqin, who is from Xinhua Village in southwest China's Yunnan Province, recently shared her entrepreneurial experiences of growing agaricus blazei Murills with the help from the Mary Kay Women's Entrepreneurial Foundation.
The Mary Kay Women's Entrepreneurial Foundation was established by Mary Kay and the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) in 2001 to help women start their own businesses by providing small interest-free revolving loans.
In June 2005, 23-year-old Shao married Zhang Lizhao, a man of the Achang ethnic minority with a disability, despite her family's opposition.
In the remote area where she resides, most villagers took part in labor-intensive work. Although Zhang could manage to do some manual work to help ease the family burden, most of the farm work had to be carried out by Shao.
Meanwhile, the birth of a son and a daughter added to their burden.
Thus, in 2016, they contracted 1.97 acres of land to grow flue-cured tobacco. However, despite their dedicated efforts in every process, the tobacco leaves dried out due to disease.
A whole year's efforts were in vain, but facing with difficulty, Shao still encourage her husband optimistically: "Don't worry; that's no big deal. I shall stand up to it."
In June 2017, the local women's federation carried out a door-to-door investigation in 11 villages and communities.
After learning of the conditions of their impoverished family, officials decided to help them apply for support from the Mary Kay Women's Entrepreneurial Foundation as one of the targeted pilot self-help households.
In August the same year, Shao and her family members planted 480 square meters of agaricus subrufescens in a shed with their entrepreneurial fund of 20,000 yuan provided by Mary Kay.
In addition to financial help, she also received training of planting skills as provided the foundation, which sends technical professionals to her aid during the whole planting process.
With the support of fixed purchase places and reserved prices, Shao earned a net profit at 21,500 (US$ 3130) yuan in a year.
In 2012, the foundation further introduced the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as their cooperative partner, and also provided skills training as well as loans.
As of now, there are more than 80,000 women like Shao who have realized their dreams with the help of the foundation.
(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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