Flip-flop man treads new path by iden­ti­fy­ing mar­ket needs

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI LIANXING in Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia lil­ianx­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Trade in com­modi­ties has been the dom­i­nant fea­ture of China-Africa re­la­tions over the past 20 years, but many traders, par­tic­u­larly those who ar­rived in Africa early, are now well aware that there must be more to the re­la­tion­ship than that.

“It’s very im­por­tant to set up a fac­tory in Africa to en­sure that one’s prod­ucts have stay­ing power in this mar­ket,” says Wu Quan­man, owner of Li Lai In­ter­na­tional in Dar es Salaam, which makes flip-flops.

He first came to Africa in 1998, to Rwanda, and moved to Uganda in 2000, and set up the fac­tory in Tan­za­nia in 2006.

When the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self to go abroad in 1998, he came to Africa rather than go­ing to the United States, he says, be­cause he had heard tales of what hap­pened to many Chi­nese who went there.

“I didn’t want to end up wash­ing dishes in an Amer­i­can restau­rant, but to build up my own busi­ness in a new mar­ket.”

He had been an agent sell­ing video tape recorders be­fore com­ing to Africa, and he says he knew how im­por­tant it was to iden­tify mar­ket de­mand, and even­tu­ally came up with the idea of sell­ing flip-flops.

“You can’t imag­ine how popular they were.

Wu Quan­man

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