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Disabled people find growing opportunities in Zhejiang

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-14 08:45
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Bamboo products on display in a showroom at the factory. FENG XIAOYING/CHINA DAILY

He understood this plight all too well.

Born into a poor farmer's family in Dushantou village in 1960, Liang contracted polio when he was a child, which complicated life.

After failing to pass the national college entrance examination, he made a living working in fields and collecting pig droppings for manure.

After about a year, Liang seized the rare opportunity to become a full-time employee at a bamboo whip factory in a neighboring town. Humble, curious and hardworking, he was promoted to workshop director after five years, and developed 50 new bamboo and wood products.

Over time, the idea of setting up his own company began to take shape. "We didn't have the money," he said. "I had to borrow it from friends. I set the factory up near home with 10 colleagues."

During the first few years, when the products were ready, Liang traveled with the delivery van to present them to customers in person.

"To save on accommodations, I often slept in the van with the driver at night," he said.

As his business grew, Liang never forgot about the hardships he had to endure because of his physical disability.

As company chairman, he created jobs on the processing lines, which do not require physical exertion and are easy to master. To ensure that as many people as possible could benefit from his success, the company set up a charity in 2010.

Each year, the charity donates 250,000 yuan to help people with disabilities in Meixi township and 1.37 million yuan to improve the infrastructure in communities.

After nearly two decades of rapid development, Liang's company is now renowned for being one of China's largest manufacturers and exporters of bamboo and wood products. It is also one of the country's largest producers of natural food packaging containers and restaurant utensils.

These green and environmentally friendly products are not only popular with Chinese customers, but are also well-received abroad, particularly in the United States, Europe and Japan.

"The company's overseas sales reached $13.27 million last year," Liang said, adding that the products will help contribute to national goals to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

For Liang, the company has set an example to the world, showing that it is possible to strike the right balance between economic development, making money and environmental protection.

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