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More start-ups rise in rural areas

Updated: Aug 1,2016 4:03 PM Daily

Bu Rui, a girl born in a small village in Northeast China’s Jilin province, did not choose to find a job in a crowded city after graduating from college in 2009, but went back home to start her own business -- a tofu mill.

After seven years, the 30-square-meter mill has transformed into a food company spreading over 4,000 sq m. Apart from making tofu, she also started corn and chicken farm. Currently her company has an annual income of 5 million yuan ($752,900) creating 80 jobs.

There are more and more stories like Bu Rui in rural areas these years.

Chen Xiaohua, deputy minister of agriculture, said recent years have seen a double-digit annual growth of the number of college students and migrant workers who went back to countryside to start businesses. Till the end of 2015, a total of 4.5 million migrant workers have become rural entrepreneurs.

The field of businesses they start is getting wider from traditional farming to new types of agriculture such as eco-agriculture, whole-industry-chain agriculture and online marketing of agricultural products.

However, start-ups in rural areas still have some trouble. First, financing is difficult. According to an investigation in Anhui province by the National Bureau of Statistics, nearly 80 percent of rural entrepreneurs complained about lack of investment. Some entrepreneurs said that few banks are willing to give loans to them due to the limited turnover and credibility of their business.

Second, rising cost hinders their development. The costs of raw materials, labor and land, among others, are all rising, but the market marginal growth is limited because of the downturn of some industries.

Third, there are not enough business incubators in rural areas. According to Bu Rui, business incubators which have been receiving a lot of support by the government are mainly located in urban areas rather than in countryside. She hopes for more incubators in rural areas providing services to start-ups.

The government is trying to support entrepreneurs in rural areas, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2015, 18,300 rural entrepreneurs have received government training and 400,000 people have got appraisal of occupational skills. The provincial government of East China’s Zhe Jiang province has begun to provide technological support to college graduates starting businesses in the countryside.

Cheng Xinyuan, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the government should roll out more policies, provide more vocational training and build more infrastructure to support them. Some experts also suggest that the government encourage banks to enhance the credit line of rural start-ups.