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  • Home > News > Details
    Flower woman spreads her fragrance
    She left her village in the 1980s in search of a better life in a city. After an intense struggle to make some money, she made another bold move: returning home to open her own factory. Her aim was to lift her village out of poverty.Today, Yan Jinfeng is head of the Lushan Jinfeng Flower Co. Her products are sold in major Chinese cities and even exported abroad. Her company earns more than 13 million yuan in revenue and has created about 30,000 jobs.The 42-year-old from a humble family has not only lifted her family, but also her village out of poverty. Deprived of natural resources and with limited access to the outside world, Zhujiafen village in Henan province's Lushan county has about 1,000 residents.So poor were people there in 1989 that no one could lend Yan even 10 yuan when she decided to leave the village. Yan, who used to teach Chinese in a local primary school for 10 yuan a month, decided to move to a city because she and her husband, a driver, were deep in debt after he met an accident. I could not have stayed home. But I did not know where to go either. With a 500-yuan ($73) loan from her father and an uncertain future, Yan left for a city in Hebei province, where she came across factories making artificial flowers. She bought some of them and sold them in Beijing. But after two weeks of sneaky business on Beijing's streets, she lost 80 yuan, a huge amount for her then.She could have returned home but was ashamed of telling her father that she had failed. So she went back and bought more flowers, and decided to sell them in a Chengde this time. The summer capital of former emperors north of Beijing proved a turning point for her. The flowers she had bought for 0.3 yuan each fetched her 1 yuan. And by the end of the month, she made 800 yuan.When she returned to Zhujiafen, her fellow villagers, overjoyed with her success, asked her if they could join her. A month later, Yan left for Hebei again, this time with eight of her fellow villagers. That was the beginning of her decade-long travel across many cities in North China.Her wandering business stopped when Yan started running a shop in Changchun, Jilin province. She made enough money from it to buy a three-room apartment in the city, where she lived with her husband and her son.On a trip to her village during Spring Festival in 1993, Yan was pained to see that some families couldn't even afford to buy salt. They served food without salt, she recalls. That made her decide to do something for her fellow villagers. But it took her four more years to start her project of change.Against all odds, Yan quit the city and started a workshop in the village in 1997. Many family friends warned me not to come back. 'You struggled so hard to get out of here. You could lose all your hard-earned money if you invest here', they said. The first year of her venture was full struggle because she could hardly make ends meet. The villagers she employed were not good enough at work for lack of training and experience.Once a man who lived in the mountains asked her to let him have a try. When he handed the processed flowers three days later, Yan was shocked. Do you work in a mine? she shouted, staring at the soiled white silk flowers. The man, overcome with guilt, said he lived with his disabled wife and four-year-old daughter, and all he wanted was some money to buy cooking oil.The experience made her even more determined to find a way to help the villagers. She took several villagers with her to Guangzhou to learn artificial flower-making skills, and bought machinery and equipment to start her own factory.Yan has arranged for the villagers to get trained in making artificial flowers, and sent the younger ones to sell and market them in cities. Her business has been booming.After some time, the young and the old all started making flowers, she says. The town, with a dozen factories, has earned a name for itself as a big artificial flower-making center. It took 10 years to earn what I could have done in two if I didn't return to the village, and it was more grueling, she says. But I feel more gratified, knowing people around me are building houses, getting married and becoming rich. Source: China Daily
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