Zhou Liangliang talks about her experiences in starting and developing her business at the news conference on the launch of the campaign to promote enterpreneurship held by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) in Beijing on June 16 .[Women of China/Zhang Ping]
The All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) held a news conference, in Beijing on June 16, to announce the launch of the campaign to promote entrepreneurship (to encourage and help women start their own businesses) and economic innovation among women across the country. The ACWF launched the campaign in response to the Chinese Government's call for Chinese to promote entrepreneurship and economic innovation. During the conference, Zhou Liangliang, Managing Director of Bobo Monkey Foods Co., Ltd., in Suqian (a city in East China's Jiangsu Province), talked about her experiences in starting and developing her business. Many in the audience were impressed by her story.
Zhou, a 31-year-old who returned from overseas to Suqian in 2010, has put a lot of time and energy into starting and developing her business over the past few years. As a result of Zhou and her employees' efforts, her small store, which sells food, has evolved into a medium-sized company. Last year, the company generated 12 million yuan (US $2 million) in revenue. During the past few years, Bobo Monkey food has won the favor of countless Chinese.
Zhou recalls the many sweet, and bitter, experiences encountered as she started and developed her business. In 2004, Zhou went to Japan to study business management. After she returned to China, in 2010, she was hired, to be an office clerk, by a foreign enterprise in Shanghai. However, she was not content, and she began planning for her future career.
As China's economy continued to grow, Chinese people's living standards continued to improve. As a result, Chinese tended to pay greater attention to food quality. Anticipating broad market prospects for producing and selling quality foods, Zhou quit her job and rented a 15-square-meter unit in Shanghai's Changning District. She opened a food store in that space in 2010.
Zhou soon realized people attached importance to the safety and quality of food, and she established Shanghai Ximei International Trade Co., Ltd., to sell imported foods. In September 2012, she established an online shop, at Tmall, to sell food under the Bobo Monkey brand.
Zhou encountered various hardships during the first few years after she started her business. For example, her parents and other relatives, who opposed her decision to start a business, refused to provide financial assistance. That caused Zhou to sell her house. She had little experience in business, but a lot of faith in herself. She believed, despite all odds, she would achieve her dream.
During the first few years after she established her business, Zhou spent a lot of time reading books and online materials, to learn how to properly manage a company and promote sales online. She was often so absorbed in her studies that she forgot about food and sleep.
Zhou also had trouble finding suitable plants to process the food. During her search for a business partner, Zhou visited numerous plants in various regions of the country. Eventually, she entrusted nearly 100 plants to process the food. She has since established online shops at Tmall, Taobao, Amazon and other online shopping platforms.
As the old Chinese saying goes, "Those who work hard will be rewarded." Zhou and her employees' efforts have paid off, as Zhou's company and her online stores have boomed in the past two years.
Zhou is grateful for the support she has received from various organizations and the women's federations, at all levels in Suqian. Encouraged by Suqian Municipal Government and Suqian Women's Federation, Zhou in February 2013 returned to her hometown to develop her business. Shuyang (a county in Suqian) Software Industrial Park offered (for free) her a large office and a 2,000-square meter warehouse. Within a short time, Zhou established Bobo Monkey Foods Co., Ltd. She also put greater effort into developing her online stores.
On the recommendation of Suqian Women's Federation, Zhou in 2014 participated in the First Suqian "Gold Seed" Network Entrepreneurship Competition. Bobo Monkey Food was recognized as one of the "most popular commodities sold online."
Zhou has helped many young people start online businesses over the years. With Zhou's help, honey produced by Sumi Honey Plant, in Shuyang County, has sold well online.
Whenever she looks back on her experiences, Zhou concludes she is lucky that she lives in the right time, when the Chinese Government promotes entrepreneurship and economic innovation. Also, as the Internet has provided more business opportunities to Chinese during the past few years, an increasing number of women have started businesses by integrating the Internet with traditional industries, to promote the industries' healthy development.
"One has to experience numerous difficulties and setbacks when he/she starts and develops a business," says Zhou. "The process of … turning your dream into reality is painful, but joyful … Despite the difficulties and hardships that lie ahead, I'll carry on."
(Source: Women of China English Monthly September 2015 Issue)
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