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Across China: Africans gaining with “Chinese experience”

Felly Mwamba has traveled so frequently since he first came to China in 2003 that he is on his sixth passport.

The businessman, who is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in central Africa has been the representative of the African Business Freight Guangzhou Office for 13 years.

“There are still many opportunities in China. It is a very large market. I am currently thinking about what new opportunities there are for me here,” he said, adding that he wanted to stay “as long as possible”.

With the Chinese economy expanding steadily over the past decades,Guangzhou, which is close to China’s manufacturing heartland, has emerged as a trade hub for foreign business people. The provincial capital has one of the largest African communities in Asia. There are around 30,000 Africans in Guangzhou, according to police records, but researchers believe their population far exceeds this.

Mwamba said he was inspired by the dynamic environment.

“When I came to China I found there was a world of opportunities to do business so I decided to stay here,” he said.

Mwamba has visited many factories in China and has a wealth of experience in selling and shipping electronics, furniture and construction materials to Congo, Angola and other parts of Africa.

“When business was good, I could ship five to 10 containers each month,” he said.

In recent years, however, the business has changed, and two of his four employees have quit.

“I have been mainly doing international trade to Africa, but the economy in some African countries is not so stable,” he said. “Living expenses and labour costs here in Guangzhou are also rising.”

Despite increasing pressure, Mwamba said he never thought about leaving China. “I believe things will get better and I still have hope, so I am not afraid.”

His company is mulling the possibility of extending business to Canada and the United States.

“When I was in North America, I went to a lot of shopping malls and many products there were ‘Made in China’.”

Mwamba was the chairman of the Congolese Community in China, an organisation with over 1,200 members.

The organisation, he said, aimed to maintain good relationships among the Congolese and between their community and other people in China.

It also helped its members understand Chinese laws, and share business experience.

“There are people with visa problems, money problems, translation problems. Some just need advice about business,” Mwamba said.

Things were quite different when Mwamba first arrived in China. He did not know a single word of Chinese, but managed to learn the language within a year by socialising.

“When you live here, you just have to love this place, work hard and make friends. Like the saying, ‘with more friends, life is flexible’ ,” he explained.

 

Source: Xinhua | Updated Feb 13

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