How A Chinese Man Moved His Manufacturing Business To Nigeria And Made It Big Time

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This is again one of the posts I lift off directly from the source as there's no where to fix my sentiment in it.

I came across it on Financial Times and you'll be inspired by the bold move a Chinese man made in seizing the opportunities in Nigeria that we Nigerians close our eyes to. The original story can be read here: Excerpts from the three proposals (Financial Times)


Sun Jian is from Wenzhou, a mid-size city in southeastern China. Nearly four thousand years ago, Wenzhou invented a lustrous pale green glaze called celadon, and in the process, became the birthplace of Chinese ceramics.

By the 1970s, however, times in China were tough. After elementary school, Mr. Sun dropped out. At age 13, he started working in factories. But at least he was in the right place: in 1978, two years after Mao Zedong’s death, Wenzhou became the first city in China to set up private enterprises.

Mr. Sun worked his way up several factories in the leather processing business, eventually saving enough to own his own factory. By the late 2000s, however, costs were climbing at an alarming pace, and he knew he needed to move his factory out of China. After considering everywhere from Bangladesh to Uzbekistan, a friend told him about a place called Nigeria.

He went for a five-day visit. “I got off the plane, and immediately all these poor people were asking for money,” he recounts. “But then I realized there are a lot of rich people too, and although it’s hard to make it in this market, I realized that it’s just as hard for everyone else as it is for me to make a factory here.” Back in China, he called a contact at the customs authority and asked him what the physically heaviest product being shipped in large quantities to Nigeria was. The answer? Ceramics.
With that, Mr. Sun devoted nearly forty million dollars to building a ceramic tile factory in Nigeria. His factory runs 24/7, and it produces 56,000 square meters of ceramic tiles—enough to cover ten football fields—every day. He employs nearly eleven hundred workers, a thousand of which are locals. Electricity is unreliable and costly, but still, business is good. Nigeria, with its relative lack of competition and booming demand, allows Mr. Sun to earn a 7% profit margin, compared with 5% in China.

Mr. Sun is making more money in Nigeria than he could in China, and he believes Nigeria is profiting too. “The train of development—which station first and then which station you need to go through—we Chinese know exactly what the path is. Nigeria needs to learn from China! For Africa, the Western path is unwalkable.”


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