Veterans winning fight to start online businesses

China Daily
Li Jiayao
Chen Kunyuan (second from right) and some of his employees sort vegetables before delivering them to customers in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.[Photo/Xinhua]

The internet offers many opportunities for former military personnel. Yang Zekun reports.

Chen Kunyuan used to exercise at 5:30 am every day during the eight years he spent in the People's Armed Police in Nanchang in the eastern province of Jiangxi.

However, after leaving the force and starting a vegetable delivery business in Nanchang, he missed out on a lot of sleep for the first three years because the vegetables had to be sent out before 7 am.

Since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, more than 57 million military personnel have re-entered civilian life, and the number rises by hundreds of thousands every year, according to the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Last year, the number was about 530,000.

All have been properly resettled or have found jobs on their own. Many have even started their own businesses, proving that veterans have plenty of advantages and opportunities in the competitive internet era.

Success story

Lacking the professional skills of some of his veteran peers, Chen struggled to find a career after he left the armed police in 2010, so he worked as a security guard and driver. Now, though, he is chairman of Jiangxi Bingge Food Delivery Ltd, a successful e-commerce company that provides fresh food on demand.

Last year, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China and the Ministry of Veterans Affairs honored Chen by giving him the "Most Beautiful Veteran" award for his contribution to veterans' employment and startups.

After resigning his driver's job, Chen searched for opportunities to found his own business. In late 2010, he started his vegetable delivery business with 50,000 yuan ($7,380) he borrowed from friends and family after the failure of a tea retailing venture in which he lost all of his savings.

"Fresh food deliveries had just started in China. It is a labor-intensive job without any skill requirements, so I thought it might be an opportunity for me," he said.

He rented a 50-square-meter storefront in a large wholesale market in Nanchang and started his new business with two other veterans. He often spent entire days looking for clients and suppliers of low-price vegetables.

Most of his clients used mobile phones to place orders. However, some were unable to speak Putonghua-standard Mandarin-which caused many problems. To alleviate the problem, he transferred his business to QQ, an online platform.

"Like WeChat nowadays, QQ was popular among my clients back then. I asked them to use QQ rather than mobile phones when placing orders," he said, adding that the company now has online management systems which deal with order placement, deliveries, accounting and billing.

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