China Zhiyuan Shoe City is one of the three markets Chen established in Dubai, UAE. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
Chen Zhiyuan is famous among overseas Chinese in Dubai for his success running Chinese-style markets in the United Arab Emirates' largest city.
Over the past 20 years, the businessman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province has founded three major China-oriented markets selling all sorts of Chinese products in Dubai. The markets now have an annual turnover of more than $500 million.
Chen attributed the success of his venture to the solidarity of Zhejiang people living overseas.
"It was not easy to apply for a loan from local banks at the beginning of the business," Chen recalled. He eventually got the loan only after a group of Zhejiang expats submitted the application and reported what they were going to do together.
"There are now more than 4,000 registered Chinese companies in Dubai and a large portion of them are set up by Zhejiang businesspeople," Chen said.
Zhejiang companies in Dubai make a contribution to the international city's development, and also benefit in turn from its rapid development. Now, some of these expat investors are considering heading back home to Wenzhou.
In addition to running the overseas markets, Chen now pays attention to Wenzhou's market as well. He recently invested over 300 million yuan ($45.25 million) in building a market in his hometown selling digital products.
As the president of the Zhejiang Overseas Chinese Federation of UAE, Chen is also trying to persuade more companies to bring capital and other resources back to Zhejiang.
He said he had long been paying attention to the trend of Zhejiang companies seeking development outside the province, and then returning after several years to support the region's development. According to Chen, this approach could be an effective way of boosting Zhejiang's economic growth in the future.