Xinjiang deputy enables local women to gain economic independence

China Daily Updated: 2024-02-05

Guzalnur Ablimit, a rural Uygur woman who has carved out a successful business for herself, put her experience to good use by representing the interests of those like her at the 14th Xinjiang People's Congress last week.

The 42-year-old from Yarkant county in Kashgar prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, runs a bread-making business that has customers as far afield as Shanghai and employs dozens of local women.

"I had a dream of entrepreneurship," Guzalnur, founder of Yarkant Happy Garden Food Co, said on the sidelines of the two sessions in Xinjiang.

She has served as a deputy to the regional legislature since 2018.

After graduating from Xinjiang Normal University in 2005, she worked as a geography teacher at a middle school until 2009, and then taught garment design and manufacturing at a vocational school. In July 2015, however, she was forced to resign due to illness.

"I didn't want to ask for sick leave all the time at that time," she said.

Later, with only 50,000 yuan ($7,000), she made the bold decision to start her own apparel and handicraft business. But the low profit drove her to turn her attention to the food industry, and she learned from professionals how to make bread.

She sold her house, borrowed money from friends and got a loan from the Yarkant county rural credit cooperative.

In 2018, her bread factory opened and quickly succeeded in bidding for a contract worth millions of yuan.

"After that, our business improved, selling to more areas including schools, hospitals and stores," she said, adding that monthly sales can reach 500,000 to 600,000 yuan.

She hired some 20 women from surrounding villages offering them respectable salaries in the process.

Buhar Qamdawut, a fellow villager and a housewife at the time, was invited to work in the factory.

"When she received her first month's wage, she cried, saying that it was the first time she had made money by herself," Guzalnur said.

A growing number of women in her county have taken jobs and live on stable incomes. Being economically independent has given them a higher status in their families.

"When I needed money to open the factory, government workers helped me get interest-free loans. When I didn't have any sales channels, they invited me to attend trade fairs. They organized training classes and gave many subsidies," Guzalnur said.

In August, she opened an agricultural farm in a village 30 kilometers from the county and plans to raise chickens, goats and geese, and sell eggs and milk.

She said she felt excited that the government work report mentioned that Xinjiang expects to welcome 300 million tourist visits this year, which will be great for business. This year, deputies from Yarkant proposed building an expressway between Yarkant and Tashikurgan Tajik autonomous county, a popular attraction in Kashgar, to boost local tourism and the economy.

Guzalnur was elected as a deputy because of her contribution to the rural economy and employment.

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