In April, just weeks after his daughter was born, Manishimwe Jean de Dieu left his family in Rwanda for the chance to study in China.
The 33-year-old feels that improving his professional skills and committing himself to trade between China and Africa is the best way to provide for his family and support his daughter’s future education.
“China’s attraction lies not only in the opportunity it offers to improve my professional skills, but also in the abundant supply of small commodities,” he said.
This year, Dieu enrolled at Jinhua Polytechnic in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, for the second time. He is studying Chinese, hoping that his improved proficiency in the language will act as a stepping stone for him to study e-commerce at the institution.
Dieu, who first enrolled at the college in 2014 to learn computer networking technology, said he was eager to improve his skills in Chinese after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted international travel for three years.
“If I study Chinese, when I go back to my country, I can help people — many of them young — to learn much about China,” he said.
Mastering Chinese will help him study the nation’s booming e-commerce sector.
During his first trip to China, Dieu became fascinated by the nation’s flourishing e-commerce. The popularity of Chinese-made products in his home country also made him determined to explore opportunities for trade between China and Africa.
“Chinese handbags are highly sought after by women in Rwanda for their quality and affordable prices. Likewise, shoes sell exceptionally well,” he said.
Dieu’s educational background in computer networking technology has enabled him to skillfully navigate e-commerce and social media platforms for his business ventures. He bought product samples from Alibaba and displayed them in his store in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.
Another key advantage of studying at a vocational college in Zhejiang is the opportunity to gain a complete understanding of industry chains in China through visits to factories.
“I would recommend that many people, including my own children, study in China. I chose to study vocational education in China because it was the right thing to do,” he said.
He added that his younger brother has started a shipping company in Yiwu, Zhejiang, to facilitate trade between China and Africa.
“China is the place to do business. For Africans, trading in small commodities is a good way to make a living,” Dieu said.
He added that he has been deeply impressed by the way in which Chinese conduct business.
“I did not know how to do business before, and I have learned many things from my interactions with businesspeople in China. They think about business all the time, even when they are resting,” he said.
“Perhaps that is why businesses in China are thriving.”