Trav­eler-turned-en­tre­pre­neur Lily Lee makes her mark in Canada

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ENTREPRENEUR SPECIAL - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.”

Chi­nese mar­ket

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.

New con­cept

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.

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