Chinese Earthquake Uncovers Entrepreneurs

Pretty interesting article by James T. Areddy few days ago in the WSJ (free sub) about the incredible business activity that has sprung up in the wake of the massive Chinese earthquake. From the piece:

The May 12 Sichuan earthquake left 19-year-old Yin Dan homeless. It also awakened the entrepreneur in her.

When workmen started building temporary housing nearby last month, one wandered up the hill looking for a shave and a haircut.

The chance encounter spurred Ms. Yin, who had been employed in a beauty shop, to go into business for herself. Now, she is the sole proprietor of “Earthquake Disaster Relief and Convenience Barber Shop,” located in a green tent.

“I have ideas. I want to open a bigger shop, a beauty shop in the city,” says the young woman, slumping into her swivel chair during a rare break from customers. “This is a chance.”

The response of many in the disaster zone is a reminder of how profoundly capitalist ideas have taken hold in China in recent years. For nearly a decade, the private sector has created most of China’s jobs and more recently accounted for more than half the economy. Now, in the rubble of towns of Sichuan province, businesses are sprouting from under tents, inside car trunks and behind makeshift stands. And despite the government’s massive outpouring of food, shelter and cash, few victims seem to believe they will be living off charity indefinitely.

While much of the activity outlined in the article appears to be ‘entrepreneurship’ by necessity, with China’s growing entrepreneurial institutions and culture, there is no doubt that these entrepreneurs have a chance to be high impact entrepreneurs (creating jobs and high rates of growth).

Many entrepreneurs on campus begin through necessity (needing money for tuition, room/board, or b/c they can’t find a job) and later achieve high impact status (read the history of Kinkos).

One wonders whether anything like this occurred after Katrina or whether this is occurring in Iowa right now?


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