Startups shoot up in rural China, challenges remain

Updated: 2015-08-02 13:04


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While countless migrant workers are still struggling to make ends meet in China's cities, many people are returning to their rural hometowns to start their own businesses.

In Guizhou's capital Guiyang, a business incubation park was put into operation in the city's suburbs in April by the Guizhou government.

The "Dream Factory" park, about 1,300 square meters in area, provides free venues, cheap accommodation and startup loans from the provincial government. It has already attracted a dozen entrepreneurs.

Li Shucai, head of a startup team selling agricultural products, was sitting in a cubicle browsing client information when Xinhua reporters visited the park this week. Li said his new company supplies chickens, eggs and other local products to more than 100 companies across the country.

"I have just set up the business, so our budget is tight," Li said. "But because the factory gives us lots of favorable policies, I feel less pressure."

Wu Jingxin, an employee with the factory, said that the facility will provide a platform for innovation and a "startup spirit" in the province.

Similar situations can be found in Guangxi, where the government has recently promised to give up to 100,000 yuan for each entrepreneur who meets its criteria.

The preferential policies have created a flow of migrant workers back to their hometowns.

In the central province of Henan, an area with millions of outbound laborers, the proportion of local rural people working outside the province dropped from 43.6 percent in 2013 to 39 percent last year, whereas the percentage of those working in their home counties and cities rose from 30.3 to 38.1.

By the end of 2014, there were 270 million rural laborers in cities, but it is estimated that some 2 million migrant workers have returned home. More are predicted to return home in the future, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

"Government support has really had a huge role in the returning trend of migrant workers," said Zhang Jianjun, an economist with the Party School of the Gansu Provincial Communist Party Committee. "Meanwhile, favorable policies have brought investment as well as projects to China's rural west."

Other local-level authorities are also implementing a variety of policies in a bid to attract talent to return home and boost the local economy.

Suzhou, a city in east China's Jiangsu Province, has built 26 business incubation parks for returned migrant workers, with 76 companies employing more than 9,000 people.

Besides the lure of government support, many migrant workers have grown fed up with their lives adrift.

"Life in big cities is not all it is cracked up to be: the air was bad, transportation was terrible, and it was hard to lead a good life," said Ma Dawu, who is from Dongxiang County in northwestern Gansu Province.

Many people are motivated to return home by the connections they have there.

"When you are in your hometown, you have acquaintances, and acquaintances mean business," said Gao Mingjun, a migrant worker who returned to Dingxi City in Gansu.

Wu Zhaohui, a business official in Guizhou's Tongren City, said government policies, the Internet and e-commerce in rural China all help to make returning home an attractive idea.

"When you do businesses at home, you have your family members around, which offers a strong support system," Wu said. "This is what migrant workers usually don't have in big cities."