Sun Guoping: Running a large China mall in Nigeria
Editor's note: East China's Zhejiang province is renowned for its large international population. Aloft on the wings of China's reform and opening-up policy, a group of Zhejiang people have gone abroad to make a living since the 1970s. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the policy, the Zhejiang website (www.ezhejiang.gov.cn) is launching a series of stories about overseas Chinese who are originally from Zhejiang, as well as those who are active in the province's development. Stories courtesy of Zhejiang Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and Zheshang Magazine
Sun Guoping, an entrepreneur from Zhoushan, Zhejiang province [Photo/Zheshang Magazine]
Sun Guoping's life is closely intertwined with two port cities – Zhoushan, his hometown in East China's Zhejiang province and Lagos, the Nigerian city where he realized his business dream.
"In the late 1980s, people were full of enthusiasm about going abroad and I, carrying the purpose of discovering another world, went to Nigeria," said Sun.
The country in West Africa is the largest economy in the continent and Lagos, the city Sun chose to start new life, was the largest port city and the financial and shipping center of Nigeria.
Initially, Sun cooperated with local residents on a project of manufacturing salt. However, after four years of preparations, the project failed due to the turbulent political situation. He didn't give up, noting, "Our generation is tough and indomitable."
In 1999, after Nigeria achieved political stability, Sun rented a building in Lagos, divided it into over 80 shops and sublet them to merchants selling Chinese commodities. This kind of business mode proved a hit and people's demand for shops far exceeded the supply.
Four years later, Sun constructed a larger building with more than 300 shops and a 20,000-square-meter storage zone to accommodate the big shopping center. Nowadays, an assortment of goods from China, including consumption goods for daily use, shoes, bags, suitcases, clothes, furniture and hardware, can be found at the China mall.
Sun's contributions to Nigeria's economic development earned him the title of "Chinese tribal chief" from the country's government in 2004.
In recent years, Sun has been working to help Chinese people in Nigeria. He serves as the director of Overseas Chinese Service Center in Lagos. Since its creation in 2016, the non-profit organization has created a warm zone for Chinese compatriots in the African country.