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Native entrepreneur seeks to spread wealth in Tibet
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Tibet has long been known as a holy place, remote from the changes sweeping much of China. But rapid economic growth is also transforming the plateau region and creating a new breed of native entrepreneurs.

One such businessman is Dawa Dondrup. Except for the view of snow-capped mountains out the window, the Lhasa office of the 46-year-old Tibetan entrepreneur could easily be in Beijing or Shanghai. With a copy of the book "Business Strategies" lying on the desk, Dawa in his black business suit is one of Tibet's most successful entrepreneurs.

"I seized chances and made the right choices," he said, looking back at his path from the days when he was a primary school teacher.

Dawa's grandparents were herders. His father made a living by offering prayer service and his mother was a farmer. He started his working life as construction employee after finishing primary school in Nyingchi, in southeastern Tibet.

He turned to teaching after his village set up a school. Even with his meager years of schooling, he was well-educated by Tibetan standards at the time.

"At that time, I was thinking of going to a college, but my family was too poor to support me," he said, and his salary was too low for him to pay his own way.


But he dreamed of doing business, especially after the reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s. "This is my chance, and I ought to do something," he thought to himself. He began to learn from anyone he could.

When he was a teacher, he went to Lhasa for a pilgrimage. There he stayed with a family whose son-in-law was a painter. The man earned money by painting tables, cabinets and walls in Tibetan-style houses.

At that time, painting a table brought in 30 yuan (about 4.40 U.S. dollars at current rates), a cabinet 60 yuan and the walls of a whole house 200 yuan. Those were great sums of money.

Lured by the lucrative business, Dawa asked the painter to give him a few tips so that he could earn something beyond his teaching salary.

One of his customers back in Nyingchi was a veteran soldier, who owned a truck and made a living by delivering goods.

"At the time, there were few private trucks doing goods delivery," Dawa recalled. He turned the old soldier into another teacher, this time about the delivery business. In return, he painted the veteran's house for free.

In 1983, he bought his first truck, one of the old Liberation line, with a 20,000 yuan bank loan. By 1987, he had gone through three trucks and only earned about 100,000 yuan.

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