Program offers students chance to find funds for their dreams

10:08, June 23, 2010      

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Zeng Jing, a Shanghai resident who opened his own business in 2007 after graduating from college, recalls how difficult it was to get his start-up off the ground.

He found help in a foundation dedicated to helping college students with business ambitions.

"It is complicated to apply for the money, as usually there are a lot of steps to go through, and it takes half a year," he told the Global Times Tuesday.

Until this week, options had been limited in China for college graduates who needed financial help.

But a new dedicated foundation to helping those students, launched by the Beijing Geely University on Sunday, aims to make starting businesses easier.

Using 30 million yuan ($4.4 million), the foundation will offer applicants 10 million yuan each year over the next three years to finance their dreams.

"By helping students start their own business, we are trying to help more students get jobs," said Dai Shengzhong, assistant to the university president.

The university and the group it belongs to will finance the foundation, meaning no governmental funds will be used.

A dedicated panel, comprising experts from different fields, will decide who could get the grant money, according to Dai.

"Those applicants who have original, creative ideas, or whose programs present a promising future, will win," he said.

If they fail in their endeavors, students will still have to pay back the money, though without interest.

But on the flip side, for those businesses that succeed, the foundation will help expand the businesses by investing more money in them.

"It will take about two months for an applicant to find out whether he can get financing from our foundation," Dai said.

The university will also favor its own students, with 80 percent of the funding going to the students or graduates of Geely.

Tao Xiping, adviser to the ChineseNational Chief Inspector, hailed the program, saying, "In the past, our education focus was on cultivating the willingness to start a business, but there was insufficient actual help or assistance."

"A foundation like this could help the willingness become reality," Tao added.

The sum of the foundation grants aren't large (ranging from 20,000 to 500,000 yuan for each program), so the foundation is only suitable for applicants who want to start businesses in fields such as IT and logistics, which Tongji university student Wu Heyun said require less money in the initial stages.

"I hope that there would be more chances for graduates outside Geely like myself," said Hou Yong, a senior at Shanxi University who started a wedding service but has had a hard time getting financial support for it.

Source: Global Times


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