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Ex-fisherwoman finds flair for business ashore

Pub Date:2021-08-20 10:31 Source:Xinhua

Instead of fishing with her husband on the Yangtze River, Chen Lanxiang, a 48-year-old ex-fisherwoman, found new businesses on dryland after moving ashore.

Chen, who lives in the city of Ma'anshan in east China's Anhui Province, bid farewell to her old fishing life after a fishing ban was implemented in 2019 on the local section of Yangtze to protect the river from over-fishing.

At a loss away from the water at the beginning, Chen has adapted to her new life with the subsidies and job support from the local government and feels motivated by her new venture.

Running a clean-up company with eight former fisherfolk in Ma'anshan, she developed a new routine negotiating businesses, employing workers and contacting customers.

"Previously, I had just worked with my husband fishing. It never occurred to me that I could define my own future or live in an urban community," said Chen, who had her life centered on a drifting boat for over 20 years.

Chen and her husband used to live in Xuejiawa, a harbor on the Yangtze River where people have been fishing for generations.

Just like many others who fish for a living, the couple would steer the boat to catch the fish before dawn and hurry to sell the fish ashore in the early morning.

"Life was hard then. The 20-meter-long boat was our home, and it was chilly in winter and muggy in summer. We also felt alienated from society as we spent almost all the time on the boat," she said.

After the fishing ban, more than 10,000 local fishers in Ma'anshan bid farewell to the trade and settled on land while 5,651 fishing boats were dismantled. Chen also docked her fishing boat for the very last time and started her new journey on dry land.

The new venture was never easy sailing. Just like many other uneducated fishers, there are few job options for Chen after coming ashore. Though attending several job fairs organized by the local government, she failed to find a satisfactory one.

Things started to change when the local government paid a visit to her home and proposed that the fishers could work together to run a clean-up company and they would provide free office space and practical guidance.

"On second thought, I decided to give it a try even though it's a big challenge," said Chen.

After full preparations backed by the local government, the company started to operate at the end of last year.

To be a qualified boss, Chen participated in relevant skill training and participates in continued learning. "I learned to use the computer, handle the budget and reach out to businesses. These were all brand-new experiences for me," said Chen, adding that she always keeps notes of what she does not understand and consults others later.

Thanks to her continuous efforts, the company now provides cleaning services for city roads as well as a vegetable market. The net profit of the company reaches about 10,000 yuan (about 1,543.6 U.S. dollars) a month.

"I have high standards on the cleaning work, which earns us a good reputation among customers," said Chen, adding that it further boosts her confidence.

Members of the former fishing community also benefited from programs to help them adapt to their new lives ashore.

With subsidies of 240,000 yuan from the local government, Chen and her husband spend much less than the market price to buy a 100-square-meter house. Chen's husband also joined a patrol team to stop illegal fishing and clear wastes on the Yangtze River, earning over 3,000 yuan a month.

Keen to make the most of her newfound business acumen, Chen has plans for another business venture in the pipeline.

"I am getting ready to open a local specialty shop in the local scenic spot. The store is being designed now. I'm happy to see that my future has so many possibilities now that we live ashore," said Chen. Enditem


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