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Chinese girl becomes successful business leader in South Africa

07-13-2010 15:30 BJT

People generally believe that those who work overseas, especially in a country with bad public security like South Africa, should only be male. However, there is a successful Chinese female, who started on her own completely from scratch, in the often dangerous country of South Africa.

At the west end of Chinatown in Johannesburg, South Africa, the reporter happened to notice a courtyard with a golden sign saying “Confucius Institute.” The reporter was then able to interview Zhang Xiaomei, the president of Rand Confucius Institute in Johannesburg.

A woman with a master’s degree went to South Africa because of the pressure to find a husband

Zhang Xiaomei was born in a family of teachers and graduated from Xi’an Jiaotong University graduate school. During her graduate studies, she once worked at Beijing Computer Company, a Sino-Japanese joint venture, and participated in the close development of a Chinese power station’s first distributed control system. Because of her high education and job, Zhang missed the best time to find a spouse. Due to the pressure she was put under by not finding one, going abroad became her first choice. After the dream of going to America to study fell apart, Zhang unexpectedly ended up in South Africa.

However, the boss of the South African company that hired Zhang changed his mind suddenly and terminated her employment contract, an experience that altered her long-held notion that learning is the noblest of human pursuits. It was then that Zhang made up her mind to start her own business and control her life in her own hands.

"80 percent of illiterate people can find business opportunities in South Africa. So why can’t a well educated master have a try?" said Zhang, who was desperate back then.

Zhang had only 500 dollars then. But at a critical moment, Zhang showed her perseverance and seized a rare opportunity and ultimately changed her life.

In the 1990s, South Africa had just established diplomatic relations with China, and the Chinese community there was in a state of disunity. Everyone was busy doing their own businesses and seldom cared about others. At a student union’s party, Zhang accidentally joined the Chinese community. To establish the Joint Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs and Businessmen in South Africa, the first Chinese association in South Africa, Zhang worked as a full-time secretary for three months to prepare for the establishment. Under her planning and hard work, the first Chinese association in South Africa has now finally come into being, an event which is very significant in South African-Chinese history. The name of Zhang Xiaomei has become well known to South African-Chinese families.

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