Young Chinese realizes entrepreneurial dream in hometown village
Five years ago, 27-year-old Jiang Lijuan made a life-changing decision. She gave up a promising designer career in Hangzhou and returned to her rural home to start her own business.
A drive to her home in Xiajiang Village, some 200 kilometers southwest of the bustling city in east China's Zhejiang Province, offers a feast for the eyes. Traditional houses with black roof tiles and white walls, as well as newly-built bars, libraries and homestay venues line the banks of a river winding through the village.
The picturesque village, however, was once plagued by poverty and environmental destruction. Cob walls, stinky sewage and dirty pigsties are the childhood memories for many grown-ups in Xiajiang, including Jiang, who now runs a homestay with her parents.
The plight was changed by local government's endeavors. By 2016 when Jiang returned, the village had seen its sanitation conditions well-improved, and began to develop rural tourism. In addition, a highway had connected the village with the outside world.
"I made the decision partly for the convenience of taking care of my parents, and partly out of confidence in the homestay business," Jiang said.
Jiang refurbished her family's four-story house into a homestay with a cozy fireplace, elegant courtyard and exquisite furnishing. It proved to be an instant success. In just shy of two years, the business generated an annual turnover of 300,000 yuan (about 46,388 US dollars).
However, she did not stop with personal success, but used her business acumen and experience to help fellow villagers. Now, there are over 30 homestay service providers in Xiajiang Village, some of which stably generate as high as hundreds of thousands of yuan in yearly business revenue.
The first Xiajiang local to start a business back in their hometown, and the first to open a boutique homestay in the village, Jiang decided to run for the election of the chief of the Communist Party of China Xiajiang village committee in 2019, and was elected the following year.
"I have benefited a lot from the village, and I think I should give back," Jiang said.
Jiang's win is no surprise to Yu Huimei, Party committee chief of the Fengshuling Township, which administers Xiajiang village. A well-educated and capable Party chief that can lead the village to greater prosperity is what the villagers want, Yu said.
The young Party chief has since led Xiajiang in incubating over 10 business forms with local characteristics, including specialty restaurants and handcrafts. In 2020, Xiajiang received 768,900 visits, generating over 46 million yuan in tourism earnings.
Official statistics show that the year 2020 saw over 10 million Chinese people, including rural migrant workers who have returned to their hometowns, college graduates, and veterans, starting businesses in rural areas. Like Jiang, they have injected vitality to the country's rural vitalization drive with their knowledge and fresh ideas.
Now, Jiang is living an even faster-paced life than she used to have in the city, working late and barely having a weekend to herself. "It is tiring work, but I am happy with it," Jiang said, as she is determined to contributing more to her hometown.