Traveler-turned-entrepreneur Lily Lee makes her mark in Canada
Evolving from an overseas student to an entrepreneurship award winner, Lily Lee has spent five years developing Asia Pacific Holdings into a leader in the immigration service business.
Born in Wuhan, Hubei province, Lee chose to study in France in 2000 after receiving double degrees in computer applications and business administration.
She traveled 26 countries during vacations in the next three years, which endowed her with an acute business flair.
After graduation, Lee settled in Toronto, whose diverse culture and Chinese communities made her feel at home.
“When I was in Paris, I felt isolated, that’s why I insisted on putting down roots in Chinese communities here to build my own world,” said Lee.
Soon she began a career helping people study abroad and immigrate to Canada.
At the beginning of 2007, Lee established an immigration consulting company with several other aspiring young people and started to offer services in such fields as investment, business operation, study and work in Canada.
Just when everyone in the business was complaining about Canada’s tightening immigration policy, Lee unearthed great development potential in Saskatchewan, a strange and unfamiliar name to Chinese immigrants at that time.
“We wanted to cooperate with the local government and introduce Chinese technical workers and products to Saskatchewan to help its development,” said Lee.
She treated every single case with full dedication.
She helped a fencing businessman make inroads into Canada, where the price of similar products was four times that in China.
The client ended up being a commercial immigrant to Canada and cleared out his stocks in China at a fair price.
Lee’s work also contributed to joint cooperation between Canadian and Chinese solar companies. “My job has broadened my outlook and enabled me to have access to places I wouldn’t dream of before,” said Lee.
“Each of my clients has their own different story, which usually gave me pause for thought, and I’d like to help realize their dreams to fulfill my own.”
In 2007, Lee came back to China to explore the market, and set up branches in Qingdao, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou and Chengdu.
In 2008, Lee started a professional website in China for labor service exports to Canada.
The website use a cuttingedge database system and offered comprehensive employment information, law information and labor market analysis.
There were few channels for Chinese to learn about Saskatchewan, so Lee built a Chinese-language website on Saskatchewan to keep Chinese users up to date on the latest local economic developments.
The website has now become the biggest of its kind providing information on both China and Saskatchewan.
At the end of 2012, under Lee’s guidance, Asia Pacific Holdings rolled out a website for investing in Canada.
It aims to promote Canada’s energy, agriculture, real estate, tourism and education projects to China. Before the website went online, two venture capital companies approached the company to invest in the website. In 2013, based on her many years of work and life experience in Saskatchewan, Lee wrote a Chinese-language handbook introducing the place, warts and all, with information ranging from the natural environment and culture to investment.
Immigration is no longer just about making more money. Instead, more and more well-established Chinese are choosing to experience a new environment and culture and meet new challenges, said Lee. “My mission is to help Chinese realize their dreams in Canada”, said Lee. Over the years, Lee has insisted on working 12 hours a day, six days a week. She also continues the habit of reading to update immigration knowledge.
She has won countless awards, such as the Top 100 Outstanding China Economic Personage Award in 2012 and the Entrepreneurship Award at the 8th Chinese Business Excellence Awards by the Chinese Business Chamber of Canada.
Her company has developed mature businesses dealing with immigration and overseas study, human resources, business investment and project development.
My job has broadened my outlook and enabled me to have access to places I wouldn’t dream of before.”
Lily Lee with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.