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From student to entrepreneur

Updated: Aug 24, 2022 By Wahed Ahmadzai Print
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[Afghanistan] Wahed Ahmadzai, University of International Business and Economics

I first came to China in 2014 on a CSC scholarship and did my bachelors in International Economics followed by MBA at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE).

UIBE is one of the most international and diverse universities in China, with students from more than 170 countries. The diversity of UIBE made me realize that university life is beyond academic programs and getting a degree. It is a window to the world and a portal to endless opportunities.

To make the most out of my time on campus I joined our university's International Alumni Association, during which I was in charge of expanding our alumni network to 27 country branches and building a vibrant community for alumni to exchange ideas and resources. We also organized more than 30 events including the largest career fair for international talents, helping more than 100 students apply for jobs and internships.

UIBE International Career Fair [Photo provided to]

Being a part of students or alumni organizations allowed me to be surrounded by a network of inspiring talents, engaging with them meant that there were always ideas to discuss, and opportunities to explore, and sometimes the opportunities come knocking at your door. That happened to me twice.

Launch of country branches with International Alumni Association [Photo provided to]

First time in 2016, when a couple of my Chinese friends approached me to join their startup as a co-founder and build a platform for universities to recruit international students called "Study in China | Cloud network".

Together, we participated and won silver medals in China's College Students' Entrepreneurship Competition and the Internet+ University Students' Entrepreneurship Competition. We successfully landed our first investment after the competitions and started working to bring our idea to life.

China's College Students' Entrepreneurship Competition 2016 Finale [Photo provided to]

While my first startup taught me the basics of entrepreneurship and sparked my passion to build ventures, it was my second startup "YOOFU International Culture Education" with my fellow UIBE alumni which honed my skills. We built one of the most sought-after education companies in Beijing and collaborated with more than 30 different embassies, schools, and leading education companies to nurture the future talents of China and create a cultural bridge between China and the world.

YOOFU Cultural Education Courses for Sanlitun Public School [Photo provided to]

The second term of my campus life was from 2019 to 2021, during which I pursued my MBA degree, and soon after the pandemic broke down, affecting both the individuals and institutions and creating a considerable gap between international students and China.

Discussing challenges and opportunities for international students [Photo provided to]

Due to my past experiences in building networks and communities, I came to the realization it's necessary to build resilient and sustainable platforms which can bring together a critical mass of key players such as government associations, universities, organizations, and companies to close the gap between students and China, connect them with opportunities and be responsive to international alumni needs.

Unveiling Ceremony of Alumni Talent Alliance [Photo provided to]

So in 2021, we launched Alumni Talent Alliance, a non-profit career and entrepreneurship guidance platform for international talents, focusing on convening, shaping, and influencing outcomes that benefit our students. At ATA, we built meaningful relationships with top universities, including Peking University, Tsinghua, UIBE, BLCU, BFSU, and CUC.

The same year, I also started my third startup called NHUB, one of the first foreign-registered enterprises in the Beijing Chaoyang Free Trade Zone. At NHUB, we design a portfolio of initiatives to help organizations shape a workforce with the capabilities needed to succeed in Belt&Road countries and accelerate their transition to become global enterprises.

Chaoyang Phoenix Youth Ambassador Award [Photo provided to]

8 years, 3 startups, and 3 communities later, I can say with confidence that the universities in China are inclusive and supportive ecosystems, and the right place for your journey of exploration, to unlock your potential, to connect with opportunities, and to create impact.

During my campus life I realized:
To build a business, all you need is an idea or a solution
To create impact, all you need is the intention
To scale impact, all you need is a community of like-minded people.

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