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A farmer’s son from Shanxi, Ma Zhanjiang: visits Africa to realize his “the belt and road” dream
Add time:2018-05-29 15:13:54} author:admin
 

Mr. MA Zhanjiang, Chairman and President of Shanxi Changfeng Construction Co., Ltd., is also the investor for Grand Business Park located in Lilongwe, capital city of the Republic of Malawi. He used his 30 years to turn from a bricklayer to the company’s President. He and his Grand Business Park project were established in Malawi by the wind of “the belt and road”. Currently, The Grand Business Park Project is not only the first park since the economic policy reform was implemented in Malawi but also the witness of friendship for ten-year diplomatic relations between China and Malawi.
“As a private enterprise, it is very difficult to rise. We started from scratch, step by step, devoted, we only want to tell the new generation that this way, and it works.” Sitting in front of glass window, that morning of 25th April, in Taiyuan City, Shanxi, the 49-year-old MA Zhanjiang said so.
The early morning sun shines on him through the glass, after six hours it gently glanced off the Grand Business Park miles away.
The new morning sun is delightful and full of hope.
A guy from a farming family left his hometown to migrant to a provincial city: we cannot survive in the village
30 years ago, in the county of Luliang Revolutionary Area, Ma Zhangjiang only took 20 RMB to embark on a migrant worker journey. At the age of 19, he had already faced many heavy life’s burdens while his peers were in beautiful classrooms attaining an education.
They were lots of children in the family, bad harvest so food was scarcity; life was a bit too hard. 20 RMB only covered transportation to the provincial capital and a three days meal. If there was no work after the three days, I would starve.

But Ma Zhanjiang is very grateful for those days. The sufferings he endured became a recipe for a strong will to succeed. “One day I walked the whole day job hunting without much success, I was so exhausted and living in a deserted area with no strength to carry on but considering I had to feed my belly I have no choice but to get up on my two feet again stressed Ma Zhangjiang.
Relying absolutely on the desire to survive, Ma Zhanhjiang gritted his teeth thinking on the next move which later turned out to be learning how to lay bricks and stones including other techniques. He landed a labor contract and with gradual accumulation of experience over time plus his savings he managed to establish Shanxi Changfeng Construction Company Limited in 2010.
Establishing a company at the age of 40 is a bit too late for an entrepreneur. However for Ma Zhanjiang the hardships and tribulations encountered during this period is an endless story. After the establishment of the company, with good faith he gave back to the community and the world with an excellent performance as the company’s mission. It expanded from a single construction company to real estate, agriculture, commerce and so on. His very considerate to his employees, trustworthy and reliable to his partner, and respect his customers. Gradually the name of Changfeng Construction became talk of the town and eventually it was the flag and benchmark in the industry.
“Unanimous opposition” for investing in Africa, but determined under much pressure
Venturing into overseas project was a turning point for Changfeng Construction Company and a vane. The construction and real estate industry had suffered tremendously in 2015 due to the changes in national economic environment caused uncertainties in the company’s future and the company’s direction faced a huge challenge.  However “the belt and road” initiative set off new business upsurge in the corporate world. At the time Ma Zhangjiang went abroad with recommendation from friends to sought out and explore other entrepreneurial development opportunities in Malawi, Africa. During the ten day exploration, he went deep in both urban and rural areas of Malawi to fully analyze and understand the nation. Many of his friends who accompanied him that of the place as disadvantaged and holds many uncertainties like poor investment returns which have a negative effect on our investment capital. While they were reluctant Ma Zhanjiang already had made up his mind.
“The more seemingly hopeless, there may be unlimited business opportunities.” Ma Zhanjiang decides to do it.
But to his big surprise, his proposal was unanimously opposed by the shareholders, his partners even his family.
In terms of this situation, Ma Zhanjiang said “I can understand everyone’s thought, after all, we don’t have any experience of doing business abroad. But so many enterprises go abroad and develop very well under the state’s initiative; therefore, I also can have a try.
Finally, he persuaded all of them and set up China Lilongwe Grand Holding Corporation Limited in Malawi and created project of Grand Business Park. This park is the biggest modern business park with the most comprehensive functions presently.

On November 22, 2017, Malawi’s President, Vice President and Cabinet Ministers bear witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Grand Business Park. In his opening remarks, Wang Shiting, The Chinese Ambassador to Malawi highlighted how the Grand Business Park is a friendship symbol between China and Malawi.)
The Grand Business Park is located in the capital city of Malawi, Lilongwe Southern East Africa. It covers an area of about 20.26 hectares with a total construction area of 123,000 m2 and the total amount of investment capital is 1billion USD. The business park will comprise of a shopping complex, high class office building, villas, a five star hotel and amenities such as a conference center. People engaged in commercial activities will be able to find everything they need under one roof. The complex will integrate building materials stores, decoration materials, furniture, home and electrical appliances, auto-parts and service facilities among other things. Bank facilities will also be incorporated on the site to ease transactions. The first phase of the project will be completed in 2019 with an estimated investment capital of 300,000.00 USD.
When Private Enterprises go global: They Bring Better Styles to Africa
There are many versions on going abroad for private enterprises all the time and there is much experience on how to go globe and how they can successfully go outside indeed. But for Ma Zhanjiang, when the project was established, as if he went back to the time of 30 years ago when he went to provincial city from his village.
Going through many procedures for the company, from establishment of company to personnel management, the challenges came one after one. When we held groundbreaking ceremony, Ma Zhanjiang invited a group of his Chinese friends to Malawi and showed them Malawi villages. “All people are saying this place is too poor, how can you invest here?” Ma Zhanjiang smiles and says. Their hesitation is reasonable, he also questioned himself before but still firmly believes that to invest in Malawi will be the most proud thing he ever did. 30 years ago, he stepped out from his village, after 30 years, he brings modern industrial civilization and employment to Malawi where it is more than 10000km away from China and gives hope to many families.
In Ma Zhanjiang’s opinion, although everything is settled now, however, the bigger challenge will be enterprise management. From enterprise culture to staff management, team development, the task on his shoulder is still heavy.
But to Ma Zhanjiang, a strong willed man is one who is not afraid of problems and challenges ahead but a man who strongly believes he can solve and conquer them.
Presently in his free time Ma Zhanjiang learns English although someone advised him that at his age and his poor educational background it is xxx but he laughed it off. “I just want to be a model to the younger generation, If I can do it under such circumstances then they can do it better than I, there’s nothing to be afraid of”, emphasized Ma Zhanjiang.
Since we already decided to get established in Malawi, we did not want to let fellow Chinese down and that was the driving force for our hard working ethics” said Ma Zhanjiang.


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