BEIJING — When Cen Shen gave up a big salary with a foreign company in Guangzhou and went back his rural home in south China’s Guangxi to run an online mango shop in 2012, most people thought he was crazy.
“People thought I should find a decent job in the city. Even my family weren’t on my side,” said Cen, 29, who graduated from Sun Yat-sen University in 2009.
Now Cen’s online store has annual sales of more than 5 million yuan ($820,000) and he employs 17 graduates.
His e-commerce experience has also helped local farmers sell mangoes across the country, which, as he said, is a “beautiful response” to the doubters.
Cen is not alone. More and more young people are choosing to become their own bosses.
Zhang Tianyi, 25, a graduate of Peking University, opened his first noodle restaurant in downtown Beijing in April last year, two months before graduation. His Fu Niu Tang food chain now has four restaurants in the capital, with an estimated market value of over 10 million yuan.
In a new trend, young independent Chinese are seeking success, wealth and happiness by going it alone. The startup frenzy grips China from city to village.
The number of new Chinese firms has surged since the business registration system was overhauled in March last year, reducing the minimum capital threshold and streamlining administrative processes. About 844,000 new companies were registered in the first quarter of this year, up 38.4 percent from the same period last year. The registered capital of these new companies totaled 4.8 trillion yuan, up 90.6 percent year-on-year.
Many of these firms were launched by young people, focus on services, and are Internet-based.
“Business reforms have prompted investment in emerging industries and the service sector, as economic restructuring demands,” said Chen Dun of Beijing Technology and Business University.
The central government is raising the amount lent to startups and encouraging migrant workers to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurship and innovation is the way to make people rich and the country strong, and can advance structural optimization of industries and enterprises, according to a central government statement.
“A national support system for startups means it’s a good time to open for business, and self-employment will provide more jobs for others,” said Zhang Hui of the Party School of the Guangxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The Internet, especially the mobile Internet, still has good prospects and provides the best opportunities for young Chinese entrepreneurs, according to the Internet Society of China.
In the past decade, the Internet has produced a number of Chinese e-billionaires including Tencent CEO Pony Ma and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, but not all young entrepreneurs have made their names so easily.
Chen Jing, 27, founder of organic food seller Ancient Agricultural Development, is still struggling to break even after two years. He has invested nearly 1 million yuan but his company is not even close to turning a profit.
Fang Yi, CEO of leading cell phone smart push service Getui, said Internet startups are characterized by high risks and high profits, but products are always at the core. He distinguishes two types of business, according to profit modes: one, a traditional gradual accumulation of profits; the other, loss first, then explosive growth.
“I believe our company is the second type, and I’m patient and confident,” said Chen.
He has raised more loans, helped by preferential government policies. His next move will be to improve product quality and package design.
“I am ready to see my company fly,” he said.