Tibet builds escape route from poverty

By Hou Liqiang/Daqiong | China Daily | 2017-09-12 07:12

Tibet builds escape route from poverty

Businessman Badro (left) visits Norbu Gradul, whose home he helped build. [Photo/China Daily]

Vital loan inspires entrepreneur to help the needy

An old Chinese saying goes, "When you drink from the well, don't forget the people who dug it." It is a philosophy fully embraced by Badro, a rags-to-riches businessman and philanthropist.

Born to a poor family in the Tibet autonomous region's Lhunze county, by age 18, Badro was a high school dropout working as a laborer, making the equivalent of only 15 US cents a day.

"I lived in a shelter I'd made from plastic sheeting. Sometimes, it was so cold at night I couldn't fall asleep, so I'd work at night and sleep during the day," he said, adding some days he worked 20 hours without food.

Five years later, while working at a building site in his hometown, he learned that the regional government was encouraging locals to bid for low-cost construction projects.

Badro started a construction company and won the bidding for several projects. However, in 2003, the company experienced funding problems and was saved from bankruptcy by a local government loan, which allowed him to pay his employees.

It proved a turning point. The businessman has since opened a vegetable farm, dairy farm, hotel and wholesalers, creating hundreds of jobs.

"I will never forget the help I received from the Party and the local government," said Badro, now 50, who added that the assistance back then inspired him later to contribute to the nation's poverty alleviation efforts.

More than 160 of his 700 employees are from impoverished backgrounds, he said. Moreover, he has invested about 8 million yuan ($1.22 million) to build homes for about 60 families, while he also donates 500,000 to 600,000 yuan a year to help poor students cover the cost of their studies.

Norbu Gradul from Zagor village is among the people Badro has helped. His family of four used to live in a stone-and-mud house with sunken foundations and a leaking roof. The millionaire entrepreneur built them a new home last year at a cost of 120,000 yuan. "I didn't spend even a penny on the new house," Norbu Gradul said.

The 46-year-old villager works on Badro's vegetable farm and makes 2,500 yuan a month. His wife, who works for the local government as a part-time forest ranger, earns 3,000 yuan a year. "Badro treats me even better than my parents," he added.

The walls of Badro's office and adjoining 50-square-meter conference room are covered with dozens of thank-you messages sent by people he has helped. Yet he said he has not finished.

"I want to create more job opportunities for the poor and give more back to society," he said.

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