Entrepreneur Zhao Xianzhen: from veg vendor to restaurant manager

Updated: Jul 28, 2020 Women of China Print
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Zhao Xianzhen, a female entrepreneur, gives a speech at a symposium with entrepreneurs chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on July 21. [CCTV News]

Zhao Xianzhen, executive member of the Women's Federation of Jiading District in Shanghai and general manager of the district's Pinhai Restaurant, came into the spotlight after speaking at a symposium for entrepreneurs chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on July 21.

Xi, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, urged efforts to spur the vitality of market entities and promote entrepreneurship at the symposium.

Zhao, as the only female speaker at the symposium, is also Party Secretary of the Itinerant Party Member School in Nanxiang Town of Jiading and president of the women's federation affiliated to the school, underlined the role of livestreaming in her speech.

With the impact of the epidemic, all walks of life have attempted to promote their products through live broadcasts and expand their sales via online platforms, she noted, adding that the Pinhai Restaurant introduced its signature dishes through live broadcasts during the closure of business to keep its brand polished.

Zhao also promoted public spoons and chopsticks via livestreaming and put the hygienic measures in place in her restaurant, to allay customers' safety fears.

"I was very excited to be provided with the opportunity to have a face-to-face communication with General Secretary Xi. We on behalf of more than 82 million individual businesses nationwide share the difficulties we have encountered and the stories of overcoming them," Zhao said. Xi's remarks at the symposium greatly encouraged Zhao.

Zhao, born in 1959, grew up together with the strides of China's reform and opening-up. She started her business as a vegetable vendor, and became a self-employed businesswoman in her 20s.

When she just started, Zhao rode her old bicycle with two baskets full of vegetables from Jiading early in the morning to urban areas for selling every day. After China's reform and opening-up, she saw that the farmers who set up their own businesses enjoyed better lives. In 1994, she opened a delicatessen in Nanxiang and stepped on her self-employed career path. Later she pooled her money to open a restaurant.

Zhao devoted herself to running the restaurant and attracted a large number of regular customers due to the tasty food and reasonable prices. With her continuous efforts, she overcame the difficulties and obstacles on the start-up road, and finally owned her booming business.

"Happiness will never befall us by itself. I firmly believe that happiness can only be created with our own hands. And when you live a good life, you can't forget to give back to society," Zhao said.

The Women's Federation of Itinerant Party Member School in Nanxiang is the first of its type in Shanghai. It serves female participants of associations of self-employed businesses and associations of private enterprises and women of mobile Party branches.

After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Zhao took the lead in donating money and paying Party membership dues. She herself donated 20,000 yuan (US $2,858) as special Party membership dues. She also called for other members to donate, raising nearly 300,000 yuan (US $42,870), which was later converted into medical supplies such as ventilators and delivered to the domestic epicenter, Hubei Province.

Led by Zhao, 173 volunteers were organized to reinforce the on-duty work of traffic checkpoints and community-based epidemic prevention and control, and donated more than 2,000 packages of dim sum and over 60 boxes of vegetables to hospitals, communities and volunteers.

Zhao has been granted titles of "National Advanced Self-Employed People", "National Star of Filial Piety", "National Rural Female Talent" and "Shanghai March 8th Red-Banner Holder" over the past years. Her family was also honored as the "Most Beautiful Family" in 2019. During the epidemic period, she mobilized her family members to take active parts in epidemic prevention and control, contributing to the nationwide fight against the virus.

"The family is a whole. Everyone should stick to their posts and take actions to help the anti-epidemic work," Zhao explained.

"I will continue to do my business well. And at the same time, I will work with individual businesses, Party members and masses of women to strive for success in the new era," she added.

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