"Do you know what my father used to call me? Simba, the Lion King!" Ahmed Tamim, a Tanzanian man who has operated an international shipping business for 13 years in Guangzhou, said in an interview with GDToday. When talking about his father, who passed away years ago, tears sprung up in his eyes.
"When I first came to Guangzhou, my pockets were empty. All my money was earned in China," Tamim recalled. Today, he serves as the shipping company's general manager and assumed the elected chairman of the Tanzanian Chamber of Commerce in Guangzhou.
Realizing treasure dream in Guangzhou
More than 1,000 years ago, Guangzhou was one of the starting points of the Maritime Silk Road. With a thousand years of trading history, merchants and goods from all over the world gathered and connected in Guangzhou, where people will be rewarded for their diligence and wisdom.
In 2006, the trade volume between China and Africa exceeded 50 billion USD for the first time. Many China-Africa freight companies sprang up at that time. Tamim took the opportunity and came to Guangzhou with the help of his friends.
"African people want to do business in China, because most of the goods in Africa are from China. It is very easy to do business in Guangzhou," Tamim exclaimed. According to him, Guangzhou has a variety of low-price and fine clothing wholesale markets, as well as direct exports to Africa. More importantly, the local government has issued many policies to provide a friendly business environment.
"Even though I couldn't speak a word of Chinese, I could still do business with Guangzhou locals," Tamim said.
Guangzhou's unique geographical location and ports also contributed greatly to Tamim's business. As a major commercial port in South China, the Guangzhou Port launched 154 foreign trade container liner routes in 2022, including 23 routes to Africa, essentially covering all the major ports in Africa.
"Our cargos are mainly delivered to East Africa, including Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique," Tamim explained.
Recently, with the continuous increase in business volume, Tamim successively opened two offices in Yiwu and Shaoxing in China's Zhejiang Province.
"Coming to Guangzhou was the best decision I have ever made. Here I realized my dream of becoming a rich man," Tamim said.
Offering assistance for China-Tanzania trade
In order to achieve information sharing, exchange of international trade experience, and promotion of products, many countries have established chambers of commerce in Guangzhou. These organizations effectively contribute to the orderly and healthy development of Sino-foreign economic and trade cooperation.
In 2022, Tamim was elected chairman of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce in Guangzhou. Since then, he has also done his best to promote trade cooperation and exchanges between China and Tanzania, and to assist in resolving various trade disputes.
When asked what the most important thing for a successful businessman is, Tamim replied, "it's trust."
"Sometimes, because of business needs, you have to make some sample products and send them to certain countries. These exchanges require trust." Tamim emphasized that only when trust is established between people can we get support and help, as well as assistance from others in times of difficulty.
Owing to compliance with the principles of honesty and mutual assistance, Tamim's company has been developing steadily for more than ten years since its establishment. He has won long-term support and cooperation from both Chinese and foreign customers.
Bringing Chinese firms to Africa in the future
Thanks to the rapid development of China's e-commerce, Tamim's African customers have also begun to learn to do business online. That helped a lot during the pandemic. In April 2021, Tamim's freight business reached a new peak. Despite the impact of the pandemic, the cargo volume still exceeded the same period in previous years. "Everyone was busy during that time, but they were all happy," he smiled.
Official data show that China has been Africa's largest trading partner for more than a decade. The promising China-Africa trade will continue to bring tangible benefits to more and more Africans and Chinese. In this regard, Tamim said he hopes to cooperate with more Chinese companies to go to Africa for inspection, investment, factory construction, or something more meaningful.
"I will not only invest in China, but also invite large Chinese companies to go to Tanzania or Africa and do bigger business together," Tamim said firmly.