February 27, 2015

Interview with the Funder of China House

Writing about web page http://www.chinagoingout.org/

Interviewer: YIXIU & FATIN


About China House

China House is the first Chinese-initiated social enterprise in Africafocusingon China-Africa engagement. It is a platform to bring young Chinese to Africa to study and improve the sustainable development of Chinese overseas engagement.Weresearch on Chinese overseas investment and relatedsocial environmentalconflicts, help Chinese companies design Corporate Social Responsibility programs and develop sustainable business strategy, and engage in addressing social environmental challenges of China-Africa relationship through the action ofyouth.

Their Service

Corporate Social Responsibility / Impact Investment Consulting / CSR Case Studies – Africa Tech Challenge (ATC)

Feasibility Analysis and Program Design / Event Coordination and Execution

Media Promotion and Corporate Image Marketing

Investment Research Reports

What was your biggest motivation when you started your business?

I have been focusing on “China Going Out” project since 2011 and I witnessed the growing interest in this area with limited existence. Therefore I decided to develop this idea from a personal interest to an actual organisation, calling out to more Chinese youth to contribute to this meaningful and interesting career in Africa. This is how my idea gradually became the organisation China House.

How did you find like-minded people to be part of your business?

It is still one of our main challenges till today. As a founder my recent partners are mostly through the networking I did during my university days in Columbia. Nowadays we tend to attract like-minded people from social media platforms at first, then we would choose through tests and interviews. However, the process of building a good partnership or dealing with new business partners still takes a lot of time.

Were your family and friends supportive of your career choice?

They are quite supportive. Especially my mom. She knows that I am happy about my choice and I learn a lot from this career. I feel thankful.

You mentioned that there were mistakes in certain programmes that you run (eg Chinese African Youth Leader Project)? What kind of damage control steps did you take ? How did you manage that situation?

Yes, we used the UNDP logo without their permission in the Chinese African Youth Leader Project. There were misunderstandings so we explain and apologised to them and also to the public right after it happened. More importantly, we learnt from our mistake and made sure that these mistakes would not happen again within our organization.

How do you profit in the future from a business that is driven by a social cause?

In the future, we will cooperate with different international organisations and try our best to get funding for our research and projects. Also, we plan to offer Chinese youth, especially those who want to study abroad a chance to take part in our programmes in Africa. That could help them enrich their background knowledge for their academic applications and we charge them for our service. In the long run, we aim to provide services for Chinese enterprises in Africa through building partnerships and doing research, which takes years to happen, locally and internationally.

Did culture differences come in the way of business negotiation? How do you deal with the cultural differences when you run your programmes?

We are like a bridge between China and Africa, therefore it is impossible for us to avoid all these cultural differences between Chinese communities and African culture. Honestly we get misunderstandingS from both sides: Chinese thinks that we are on the side of the foreigners while African thinks that we speak for the Chinese government and try to benefit from them. I actually saw it coming and I was totally prepared for all these misunderstandings. It helps me stay positive and work hard to solve these problems. It is the only way to make the others understand more about what we are doing: be patient, make dialogue and communicate.

What would you say is the most important element to be a successful entrepreneur?

Having a clear and long-term goal is the most important thing to me. It helps me to not stray from what I wanted to achieve from the beginning. At the same time, I feel that it is important to be nimble so that I can change my strategy at any time in order to meet my goals.

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  • Thanks to Olivia and Oscar for posting this some great questions and food for thought here. by Ruth Leary on this entry

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