Touching China is an annual Chinese TV series that profiles individuals who have made outstanding contributions to China’s development or have inspiring personal stories.
The subject of this article, Lu Hong, is a disabled entrepreneur from Jiangsu Province who was listed among the finalists for Touching China 2022.
Lu Hong was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a child. His disabilities meant that he spent his primary and middle school years in pain. Every time he had PE class, all his classmates could run and jump as they liked on the playground while he had to sit alone in the classroom.
“At that time, my classmates would imitate the way I walked. I felt miserable every time the teacher would not let me take part in PE lessons, which made me want to hide under the table,” Lu recalled.
After graduating from middle school, Lu started looking for a job but received rejection after rejection. He had no choice but to take a job in his uncle’s factory. Getting to work every day meant riding a bicycle for 50 kilometers. He frequently would fall off his bike and injured himself countless times.
Starting a business
As his father became very ill and all his family’s savings were spent on medical bills, Lu realized that his income would not go far in supporting his family. Therefore, after his father passed away Lu decided to start his own business. “I didn’t want to be a burden to my family,” Lu said.
He started working as a street vendor, later branching out into repairing bicycles, operating a newsstand, a telephone booth, and a computer disc shop. However, none of these attempts brought him much money until he opened his photo studio.
At first, most customers would turn away from Lu’s studio because they doubted his skills and service. To retain customers, Lu promised to take pictures for free if customers were not satisfied with his work. Thanks to his skills and hard work, Lu impressed his customers and his studio’s business grew stronger.
Despite this, his business eventually failed. He considered this a valuable lesson that taught him how to better face competition and hardship.
Starting a factory
In 2017, with the help of the Association for Disabled People in Suzhou, Lu Hong opened a photo album factory and offered jobs to disabled people. In just a few years his factory has developed from a small workshop to a proper company.
There are over 40 employees in Lu’s factory, more than 30 of whom are disabled. “It’s not easy for people with disabilities to find work. I hope to provide them with an opportunity to realize their full potential and pursue their life goals,” he said.
During the epidemic, the factory was forced to close for a while, but he insisted on paying salaries to the workers as he guarded the empty factory alone.
He purchased machinery and equipment worth nearly 5 million yuan ($726,000) to ensure production when his staff could not come to work. In addition, Lu started exploring e-commerce opportunities to increase revenue.
Today, Lu Hong’s factory is a well-known company that has made a significant contribution to poverty alleviation and entrepreneurship for the disabled. In the future, he hopes to “transform from being helped to helping and contributing to society”.