Jul 13, 2010
Pretty Woman and the China Connection
Who was there: Linda, Valentina, Cyril, Rose, Julia, Nancy, Libby, Margi, Jeannette, Kaye, Connie, Mary Grace, Beth, and Moi
Lijuan means "Pretty Woman" in Chinese. Lijuan means business in Iowa!
This is Nanning --Not just a little village, is it?
A petite, woman from Nanning, the capital of the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi, China, Lijuan "Li" Zhao discovered her propensity for entrepreneurship after college and while working in several countries (Austria, Holland and the UK) before she came to Iowa. Iowa's gain is partially due to a Canadian she met who illustrated the excitement of being an international citizen.
While working in the UK, Li decoded to follow her dream of living in the United States. She says that the US is a country that puts people first and was built on ideas. So in 2008, she came to Des Moines for a 9 month job experience with the equipment finance division of the company for whom she was working at the time.
After her return to China, Li made what she calls the boldest and best decision she ever made-- She moved to Iowa to become an entrepreneur, using her vast knowledge and experience in trade and finance. By the way, her vast experience includes selling ice cream as a child in Nanning! She was an entrepreneur at a very early age!
With Justin Mandelbaum, the youngest of John and Cyril's sons, started China Iowa Group, building upon the connections that both of them have accumulated throughout their years. They met at a Young Professionals meeting here and found a common bond. Their company has two major foci: The primary focus is on trade, both import and export. One of the major exports with which they are involved is a by product of ethanol, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS). This by product has all sorts of uses in agriculture and China is an excellent trade partner to nurture. The second focus is consulting, particularly in importing products. Li has contacts through out China and can facilitate communication for US companies with Chinese counterparts.
Thank you to Cyril for introducing Li Zhao to us.