Li Yingguo, a 52-year-old woman in Tianjin, has an ambitious plan -- selling self-made frozen candied haws to neighboring Beijing and Hebei Province, even to faraway Shanghai.
Li, a laid-off worker who was idle at home three months ago, still can't believe that she has become the owner of a seven-employee company in such a short time.
Late last year with the help of the Tianjin Municipal Employment Center for Women, Li rented an office at the Women Business Incubator Center of Tianjin, an organization set up specially to help women to start their own businesses. She then obtained government loans and was admitted into a training course on e-commerce, risk investment and marketing techniques.
She attributed her success to government's preferential policies for laid-off workers.
Li is one of millions of Chinese workers who were laid off from unprofitable state-owned enterprises in the 1990s when a market-oriented economy took off in full swing in China.
The central government attaches great importance to the re-employment of laid-off workers and has promulgated a series of preferential policies, including tax reduction and exemption, to help laid-offs seek new jobs or set up their own businesses.
In the past 10 years, statistics show, the country has created more than 80 million job opportunities for laid-offs. In 2004 alone, China helped 5 million laid-off workers find new jobs.
Founded in October 2000, the Tianjin Municipal Employment Center for Women, jointly set up by the United Nations Development and Planning Program, the Australian International Development Program and the Tianjin Women's Federation, is dubbed the "cradle" of businesswomen.
The center offers low-rent offices and provides business consultation and training courses for women who are willing to start their own businesses but lack funds and technical know-how.
Take Li for example. She only sold 6,000 bunches of candied haws in each of the first few months of operation. After attending the training course, Li found her sales volume skyrocketing to the present 16,000 bunches a month.
"It did help me a lot," Li said, adding that the initial success gave her much confidence to further expand her business. She said she is considering putting her company's business on the center's Website to experiment with e-business.
(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2005)