CHONGQING — In the past, residents of underdeveloped villages often made a one-way journey to big cities in the hope of boosting their incomes and supporting their families remotely. These days, however, there is a growing flow of traffic in the opposite direction, as young entrepreneurs, students and researchers descend on villages, drawn by the development potential.
The orchid plantation base in Pengxiang village, Sanjiao township in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, features 20,000 bowls of orchids of 300 varieties. The barren land has been transformed into a 1 million yuan ($140,000) industry, thanks to the efforts of Ao Qingui, who started the business in 2018 when she was just 23 years old.
While working at a pet clinic in Chengdu, Chongqing's twin city in Sichuan province, for more than a year, Ao felt a little uneasy about the competitive working environment. "At the time, I hoped to find a job that would give me more passion and freedom, one that not only had material significance but also spiritual significance," she said.
Driven by her love of orchids, she quit her job and opened an orchid store in Qijiang, her hometown, in 2016. However, she didn't want to just run a small store, so she devised a business plan for a large-scale orchid plantation and took part in entrepreneurship competitions at the district and municipality levels.
Her efforts met with success. She secured 100,000 yuan in winnings from the competitions, together with 200,000 yuan she borrowed from a bank with a government guarantee, to launch her business. Having completed the groundwork, she resettled in Qijiang and established the plantation base.
"My current achievements cannot be separated from the government's help, especially the competitions, which gave me a clearer understanding of my career and ample money for my business," said Ao, who has become a local political adviser as a result of her outstanding role in the national rural vitalization program.
Xu Zhijie, director of the local employment and talent center, said his organization attaches great importance to young entrepreneurs. This year, the center has guaranteed more than 35 million yuan for young entrepreneurs, with over 1 million yuan awarded to 30 outstanding business programs.
In May, 27-year-old Zhou Jie opened a resort on a mountainside in Qjiang's Fulu village. The resort made over 1 million yuan in revenue in just two months.
"During the (COVID-19) epidemic, countryside tourism was touted for its advantages in terms of distance. Thanks to national policies such as rural vitalization, villages now have good infrastructure and preferential terms for entrepreneurs. In this way, villages have lost the labels of being backward or undeveloped," Zhou said.
Zhou's point is illustrated by the fact that 10 young people are working at the resort. Among them is Shi Lingling, 27, whose job involves providing outdoor classes for children.
"This job gives me a lot of surprises, because the way it operates is very creative. My colleagues are easy to talk to, the work environment is relaxing and the infrastructure is good," Shi said.
She added that many of her friends have returned to her hometown, Zhongfeng in Qijiang, for work thanks to its rapid development since a power plant was established.
To Zhou, the resort is a microcosm of the life of villages in the future.
"Young people and seniors, outsiders and local people, traditional culture and new culture can all be seen here, changing the image of villages without people or work opportunities," she said.