Building Schools & Delivering Quality Education in China
Interview with Huaping Yang, Finalist for Youth Business International’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 Award
Spirited entrepreneur Huaping Yang has overcome failure to launch an education business which today enables hundreds of students to work towards achieving their goals. Chinese company Chengdu Aosite Education (AST) is a three-pronged after-school tutoring chain for students of all ages aimed at inspiring and providing opportunities for their futures on their doorsteps.
Huaping (33), the son of poor farmers in a remote Sichuan village, worked in a training institution but was determined to open his own centre. A lack of collateral and bad debt following his first failed education venture meant he could not secure a loan.
China’s YBI member Youth Business China (YBC), however, was impressed by Huaping’s determination and courage. It approved a loan and provided a mentor. For YBC, Huaping and his wife’s extensive industry experience and desire to provide top-notch education for parents and students close to their homes, clinched the deal.
Parent and child satisfaction as well as giving back are central values for Huaping. What began as a husband-and-wife start-up in 2009 has burgeoned into eleven training centres in Chengdu employing over 100 part-time and 50 full-time staff members.
The business seeks to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering small classes with more personalised teaching, follow-ups beyond the classroom, and lessons tailored to meet specific student needs. AST Education assists students with Chinese, Maths, English, Physics and Chemistry in order to boost understanding and results. Xinyu Art attaches importance to teaching art and dance. It helps children develop their art skills (for fun or as a subject specialism) while adults attend dance classes to keep fit or for enjoyment.
But perhaps more notable are Huaping’s social contributions and initiatives. Public community lectures are a regular feature. AST is currently in the process of writing, printing and distributing public reading materials; students from disadvantaged backgrounds receive tuition discounts; and 50 poor children across ten school districts received free courses to the value of almost $1,700.
This is what Huaping had to say about his journey:
Q: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
A: This has been my goal since I was a child. I come from a mountain village in Bazhong, Sichuan. At that time we children had to climb the mountains and walk for hours to school. It was harsh, especially the rainy days. Therefore my dream was to build plenty of schools so that every child could go to school easily.
Q: What are the most important parts of a business?
A: Customers and employees are always the most important parts of an enterprise. Because of them, a business becomes stronger and endures.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your business?
A: I feel my business is like my own child who is growing up day by day, and which makes me so proud.
Q: What do you most dislike about running your own business?
Q: Why do you feel that your business has survived when so many others have not?
A: I believe that a successful business should treat its employees like family so that the employees can treat the customers like family. This belief has proved itself true over time. Not only our employees, but also our customers are satisfied with the company. Our very first staff members we employed still work in our company now. I appreciate them. It is they who have helped this company grow up. Also, more than 60% of our customers come to us through word-of-mouth.
Q: What is the general attitude towards entrepreneurs in China?
A: The environment for starting a business in China is very good these days. It is greatly supported by the government. There are also financial support and competitions from local government for entrepreneurs.
Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to young entrepreneurs?
A: I have some suggestions for young entrepreneurs which include determination (half the battle and the first half of achieving success), responsibility, a good attitude and innovation
Q: Who have you encouraged to start a business and what do you enjoy most about mentoring?
A: I have helped with the establishment and growth of about 5 enterprises. I have mainly helped my family and friends with their business ideas and businesses. I like sharing my talent with others because I feel fulfilled when they succeed.
Huaping Yang is a Finalist for Youth Business International’s overall title of “Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013”. He will be arriving in London next week and will participate in the YBI Global Summit (9th – 12th September) which culminates in the Young Entrepreneur Awards. Read more about Huaping’s enterprise journey here: http://www.youthbusiness.org/case-studies/huaping-yang/