A poverty alleviation story written in pencil –

Born in rural Lu’an, Anhui province, Zhu Xingjia knows well that employment is vital to getting people out of poverty.

The 50-year-old was a migrant worker in Jiangsu province in the 1990s and then returned to his hometown to run a restaurant in 2010.

In 2011, he established Longhui Pencil, a pencil manufacturing plant in his hometown. After years of development, Zhu said, his business had finally got on the right track and he wanted to contribute more to his hometown’s development.

In 2016, Zhu joined the government’s poverty alleviation efforts.

The government has been helping poverty-stricken households in many ways, such as providing affordable healthcare services and subsidies for youth education, but employment is seen as one of the most effective measures.

What I can do is provide jobs, which will give them more confidence and decency, Zhu said.

Many low-end manufacturing employers attach more importance to competitiveness, which means that younger, healthier and better educated people would have a greater chance to get a job.

It’s a fact that poverty-stricken villagers are usually the seniors, less-educated or even illiterate, or disabled, said Zhu, who had been recruiting such people since 2016.

Of his 243 employees, 68 are from families registered by the government as key households for poverty alleviation efforts.

With the factory’s annual output value surpassing 100 million yuan ($15 million) last year, Zhu spent more than 20 million yuan to buy wood from local villagers and pay workers’ salaries last year.

We have employed more than 120 people from poverty-stricken households so far, Zhu said. With employment, they have all risen out of poverty, which is a happy achievement for us.

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