A taste of Shangri-la

10:30, September 25, 2010      

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Organic honey produced by Shangrila Farms. Photo: Guo Yingguang

Graduating from prestigious universities and seemingly with the world at their feet, sisters Sahra and Alia Malik have chosen the Chinesecountryside to start their business, a social enter-prise promoting local honey, coffee and organic products.

While most young rural workers head to the cities to find their fortune, Sahra and Alia frequent small villages in Shangri-la, Yunnan Province to collect natural honey and coffee beans from local farmers.

Sold under the label Shangrila Farms, the Maliks pay fair trade prices for the produce that they then repackage and sell in the shops of Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities.

"What I wanted to do was a kind of a social enterprise which is sustainable. It's a mission, it is not just business, but also creating an environmental or social good," Alia explained. "It is also different from an NGO or charity, for it functions as an enterprise, using methods of business."

Both 30-year-old Sahra and 28-year-old Alia frequently visit the farms and the region, enchanted by all that Shangri-la has to offer.

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