Business / Industries

Born to be an entrepreneur

By Chen Yingqun (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-27 08:14

Born to be an entrepreneur

Ango-Chi International Logistics and Trading Park co-developed by Hasan International Co Ltd and local government departments in Luanda, the capital of Angola. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

Successful Chinese businessman determined to bring innovation

Zheng Gang's first business deal was collecting scattered rice-field eels from villagers, selling them to the market and earning the price difference. He was 8 years old.

Four decades later, his business realm not only stretches around China, but has also taken root in Africa. However, Zheng is no longer satisfied with producing and selling commodities. He is working on a business model by creating platforms that will integrate various resources. He plans to apply the model across Africa. Born to be an entrepreneur

Zheng, 48, president of Hasan International Co Ltd, was one of the pioneers who entered Africa in 2006 to seek opportunities. As more companies enter Africa, he says, the way of doing business there needs to change.

"Just like China, Africa has different opportunities in different periods," he says. "When we first went there, selling clothes, vegetables and daily goods, it seemed whatever you did could make money."

Zheng says that for the past few years, the threshold for entering the market has been lifted, competition has becomes fierce and enterprises' growth patterns have also been changing gradually. For example, profits for some sectors, such as trade and construction engineering, have decreased, while sectors such as real estate and processing are booming.

"Labor-intensive industries will still develop well for a while longer but relying on low labor costs or cheap commodities to make good profits is not as easy as it used to be," says Zheng, also the newly elected vice-chairman of the China-Africa Business Council.

"Adding more value to products and factors such as technology, capital and talent will be competitive forces. Entrepreneurs need to rethink their strategies and business models."

The business model Zheng is building in Africa is actually taking embryonic form in Luanda, the capital of Angola. It is called the Ango-Chi International Logistics and Trading Park, which has been co-developed by Hasan International and local government departments since 2011.

With an investment of $1.5 billion, the park will cover 2.6 square kilometers. A shopping area of about 60,000 square meters is already operating, selling hardware, building materials, electrical equipment, as well as textiles and furniture.

The completed project will not only provide facilities for logistics, production and trading, but also living and office areas. All supporting facilities, including shops, restaurants, exhibition centers, schools, hospitals and a transport center, will be built inside the park by Hasan International.

Born to be an entrepreneur

The Ghanaian government also authorized Hasan International to develop a 10 sq km industrial park in Sekondi. The Sekondi Industrial Estate will deal with engineering, development, construction and investment promotion.

Born in a remote village in Nanchong, in Southwest China's Sichuan province, Zheng's business sense became obvious when he was 8, according to Wang Jiwei, editor of the company's journal Hasan's Road.

Because there were many paddy fields in the village, people would snatch rice-field eels from them but, of course, the number each family gathered was limited.

Zheng then convinced them to allow him to collect all the eels and sell them at a city that was 20 km away. When he made some money, he gave the neighbors a certain amount and kept the rest as his profit, according to Wang.

At 19, he left the village to seek opportunities in the city. He sold vegetables, clothes, all kinds of groceries and developed various construction and logistics projects. In 1993, he founded Hasan International, which focused on construction and logistics.

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