CHINA The extraordinary life of a one-armed entrepreneur


The extraordinary life of a one-armed entrepreneur

People's Daily app

18:32, August 16, 2021

Zhang Chaofan was born to an ordinary worker's family in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin Province in 1992. She was born without a left arm.

However, this physical disability did not hinder pursuing her dreams.

She became a national arts test champion, and then a self-improvement guru for Chinese college students. "As long as I persist, I can have the most powerful left arm in the world," Zhang said.

In her freshman year, Zhang joined the Communist Party of China (CPC), and applied to go to the Dashiwo mountainous area to help teach children.

In the mountainous area, the eyes of the children she met yearned for knowledge. This gave Zhang the idea to start a business in the education sector. She wanted to help poor families and the disabled.

In 2015, she gave up the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in Beijing, returned to her hometown to start a business, and opened her school.

So far, she has sent more than 1,000 outstanding students to well-known universities across the country.

When she saw that some parents could not afford their children's educational expenses, Zhang decided to use her own money to start the "Extraordinary Charity Dream Class,” and she created a 300,000 yuan ($46,000) per year “Extraordinary Charity Dream Scholarship."

Zhang has personally donated 1.35 million yuan and raised more than 5.2 million yuan to support disabled children, autistic children, and teachers suffering from cancer. By doing this, she fulfilled her own dream of supporting the education of poor children in mountainous areas.

Zhang Chaofan teaches handicapped students how to draw. Photos: Courtesy of Zhang Chaofan

For more than a decade, Zhang visited army classes, colleges, universities and poverty-stricken mountainous areas, giving more than 700 inspirational speeches. She inspired 230,000 women to value "self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-reliance." She has visited 28 provinces, and her cumulative volunteer service time exceeds 12,800 hours.

“Even if the wings are broken, the heart will fly. In my opinion, what public service brings me is a life of value and a positive mental state. In the most beautiful years of youth, it is a thing to be proud of. It is also an honor to contribute youthful vigor to bring society an uplifting force for goodness and beauty," Zhang told the People’s Daily in an interview.

Zhang Chaofan visits extremely poor families and families with severely disabled children.

Zhang's personal struggle has been accompanied by the country's economic and social development.

In her personal campaign to help with poverty alleviation, Zhang invested all the profits from her book into the construction of accessibility projects for disabled people. She spent 186 days and nights building a brand-new practice center with accessible toilets, elevators, classrooms, and ramps, as well as an entrepreneurship and employment incubation center for the disabled.

Working with authorities in Changchun she founded a business incubation center for disabled youths.

The center has provided entrepreneurial venues and incubation services for 46 disabled people from impoverished families and young people returning to their hometowns to start businesses.

"I am willing to accompany more disabled people to incubate their entrepreneurial dreams," Zhang said.

During the fight against COVID-19, Zhang donated more than 8.9 million yuan, medical masks, protective clothing, medical alcohol, gloves, shoe covers and daily necessities. All these materials were delivered to the front line of fighting the epidemic.

"The sudden epidemic has brought unprecedented challenges and impact. We have proven with practical actions that the people born in the 1990s are not a broken generation. The more difficult it is, the greater the will. Let the fire of youth burn for the people, and the heart of youth beat for the motherland," Zhang told the People's Daily Online.

On September 29, 2020, Zhang was given the “Global Youth Anti-Epidemic Model” award by the United Nations.

"Professional women in the new era should have a value in their minds, the courage to create value, as well as a sense of social responsibility. Self-discipline, self-love, and self-confidence are what I need to be an excellent professional woman," she said.

(Compiled by Dong Feng; original story from

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