‘Be a great entrepreneur. Contribute to society.’ When young Chen Riling wrote his hopes for the future in his junior high school graduation book in 1991, he didn’t realise this ambitious dream would have come true within decades.
In 1998, with 25 workers and on a 40-square-metre site in Fuan city, Guangzhou, Mr Chen set up WXD, a small factory producing CD booklets. Within just a year, the plant had expanded to 6,000 square metres and WXD had a sales office in nearby Sanyuanli. A few more years’ expansion led him to decide to escape the poor communication links and high transportation costs of operating from Fuan. He moved the company to a new, 20,000 square metre factory in Guangzhou’s Huadu District, a centre for bag manufacture, where WXD’s brand new production lines began turning out laptop and camera bags. Within a year, the company had won First Prize in the China Leather Association’s National Bag Design Competition. By 2007, it was the solo distributor in China of Disney-branded consumer electronics accessories.
Mr Chen had finally achieved commercial success, but he couldn’t forget all the rural workers who had migrated to the city to work for his business while it was growing. He knew many of them had left families behind in the countryside, and yearned to return to their partners, parents and children. They welcomed the opportunity he had given them to earn a living for their families, but it didn’t seem fair that they had had to choose between supporting their loved ones and living with them.
Turning his sights to Hunan, where many of these migrant workers had been born, he set out to share some of his prosperity in the region. Investing USD$128M to set up a new Hunan factory, in 2010 he expanded WXD into injection moulded products, such as phone cases, car accessories and jewellery boxes. Today, with 32 production lines, 2100 staff and a plant covering more than 100,000 square metres, WXD supplies quality branded goods for 40 internationally famous names, including Amazon, Bestbuy, Carrefour and Samsonite. With more prosperity in the area, the tourism business has also grown.
He had provided the area’s workers with local jobs, meaning they could now earn a living without leaving their extended families, but the desire to do more for this neglected community has also led WXD to sponsor many charity projects, including sports clubs and events for children, education development initiatives in the towns of Tanbu and Timian, and relief support for those affected by the Sichuan earthquake.
He has finally achieved the dream of the young idealistic student he once was: he is both a respected industrialist and a beloved philanthropist.