Zhou Qunfei: an example of a modern self-made entrepreneur
Zhou Qunfei is rightfully ranked as China’s richest woman and tops Forbes magazine’s list of businesswomen who have made a billion-dollar fortune in the high-tech segment. Zhou Qunfei founded Lens Technology, which is the world’s leading manufacturer of glass for cameras, laptops, videos and mobile devices.
Qunfei was born in 1970 in a small village in China. At the age of five, the girl lost her mother and her nearly blind father had to provide for three children on his own. Zhou was the only one in her family to go to school. At the same time as she studied hard, she continued to do her homework. At 16, the girl left school and went to Guangdong to earn money and help her family. Her dream was to become a fashion designer, but the only place where she found work was a small company that produced glass for watches. The working day there was 16 hours, and after 3 months Zhou decided to quit her job. She said the working conditions were difficult and she wrote her recommendations to improve the production process. The manager listened to her comments and appointed her head of the new department, and she stayed. In parallel with her work, Qunfei studied at university, where she learned accounting, basic computer skills and customs. She also got a license to drive trucks.
After working at the company for six years, 22-year-old Zhou decided to start her own business, and her family helped. Together they raised $3,000, and cousins and siblings came to work with the girl. Qunfei opened a business to produce glass for watches, but not everything was easy. Within a few years, the businesswoman opened 11 different projects that failed. In order to pay off debts and workers’ salaries, she mortgaged her house twice. However, in 2001, Zhou got a big contract for the production of glasses for mobile devices, and things went uphill. In 2003, Motorola Corporation offered Qunfei to produce glass for their new phone, which was a real breakthrough and brought fame and business to Zhou. In 2006 she opened Lens Technology, and her customers included Apple, Samsung, Nokia and others.
In 2015, Zhou’s business held an IPO, which made the woman a billionaire. Today she owns almost 89% of her own company, where she controls every step of the manufacturing process and can stand behind the machine herself and teach the worker.