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A boost for Xinjiang

By Huang Yuli in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2012-09-06 09:11

A boost for Xinjiang

Employees of Canyou Group's Kashgar branch celebrate Canyou Vice-Chairman Liu Yong's (with cake) birthday. Provided to China Daily

Liu Yong was one of five disabled people who co-founded Canyou Group, together with Zheng Weining.

Currently the 39-year-old, who is 1.3 meters tall and from Xi'an in Shaanxi province, is vice-chairman of the group.

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He attended a computer training class held by a disabled persons' group in Shenzhen, in 1993. He then worked as a typist until 1999, when he met Zheng Weining and four other like-minded individuals, who were keen to start a computer and Internet company.

In September 1999, they launched their first website, www.2000888.com, which provides services for the disabled. In August 2000, Liu was fifth at a website making competition in Prague, Czech Republic.

After becoming a general manager and chairman at Canyou, in 2011 Liu set up a company operation in Kashgar, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

He hired 68 disabled locals from the Uygur ethnic group and trained them to use computers. It was challenging because 80 percent of them were farmers and not educated beyond junior high school. Language was also a barrier to progress, as they did not speak Mandarin.

But a year later, the employees were building websites for the local government and jewelry operations, wedding video and Uygur handicraft and food businesses.

Liu says Canyou's success is due to its philosophy of: "It doesn't feel like a company but a home."

"Everyone calls me 'brother Yong', not 'boss'," he says. "Most of our Xinjiang company managers are Uygur. Each week we visit the home of one employee, tell their parents how their son or daughter is doing and find out what they need."

The company employed another 100 disabled people in April and they are being trained to make clothes. There are further plans to promote the Canyou model in other Xinjiang cities like Kuerle and Hotan.

After 15 months in Xinjiang, Liu has fallen in love with the place. His wife, a volunteer at Canyou, is about to give birth in October.

The couple will name the child Liu Zhenjiang, which means "boost Xinjiang".