Brave new world

By Huang Yuli ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-09-06 08:59:57

In 2005, Li Hong, the world programming competition winner, who has muscular dystrophy and was chief engineer of Canyou, became so seriously ill he could not work.

Because he had only worked for four years at the company he was not eligible for a pension, so Zheng decided to set a new policy: All employees unable to work would receive a pension for life.

Though the rule was opposed by some of the group's management, Zheng insisted and to date a dozen former employees have benefited from the policy and received pensions.

"I am disabled and I know the disabled," Zheng says. "What they are most afraid of is not that they are poor or tired, but they have nothing to do and they don't have a sense of personal value."

In 2009, Zheng established a foundation named after himself and donated 90 percent of his shares in Canyou group and 51 percent of his shares in Canyou's branch companies to the foundation. The group comprises 33 companies.

And it not only takes care of its employees during working hours. It also provides meals, dorms with wheelchair access, psychological counseling and crisis handling - all for free.

Zheng says it costs an average of 2,700 yuan ($426) for each employee to provide such welfare options.

Additionally, if an employee's parents visit, the company management hosts a meal and provides a car so they can tour the city.

Zheng also realized that Canyou alone couldn't solve the problem of unemployment for so many people with disabilities and needed to get more people involved. So he put forth a "High-Tech Employment for the Disabled" model.

Canyou acts as an incubator for new social enterprises, providing start-up funds, branding operations and enterprise-community management models and barrier-free guarantees.

In 2011, Canyou set up a branch in Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and hired 68 disabled persons from the Uygur ethnic group. Business has boomed and the company now employs 200 people.

Zheng says this initiative has given him confidence that his model of working will succeed just about anywhere.

Canyou also has branches in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and Zheng intends to open an office in the United States.

"I believe the disabled are a fantastic human resource, since we believe that because we are disabled, we need to be more beautiful," Zheng says.

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