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Sun shines on business contest students

THE demand for solar eclipse glasses proved a boon for one student team in an annual university contest.

Students taking part in the East China University of Science and Technology's contest were required to start their own businesses in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, with 300 yuan (US$43.9).

One team's initial business plan of providing training for local bosses was on the brink of the failure when they seized the opportunity afforded by the eclipse to make a 658 yuan profit, the second highest of the six teams. "We met with many difficulties to gain the profit," said Du Yi, leader of the team.

They spent almost all their money buying the glasses and had no cash left for accommodation.

Then they set up a stall in an outdoor square but barely sold any because of the rain.

Then they shifted their stall to a cultural center where many children went for classes. Sales took off as parents bought them for their children.

The students bought the glasses for 2 yuan a pair and sold them at 5 yuan. They sold 250 pairs. After some expenses, their profit was 658 yuan.

All the teams had to make some changes to their original plans in the face of reality and earned profits ranging from 2 yuan to 699.9 yuan by various methods, including distributing leaflets and selling drinks. In previous years, participants had to make at least 1,000 yuan to win.

"Students get less money but more experience in starting up their own business," said Qian Changping, an organizer of the event.

In previous competitions the object was to survive 10 days in an unfamiliar place with 100 yuan.

In the past, contestants survived by leading an austere life and competing for jobs with migrant workers.

They slept in train stations and walked long distances to save money, washing dishes at restaurants or selling fruit at the roadside to earn a living.

Qian said the contest had inspired the innovative spirit of the students and the business atmosphere in Wenzhou had concentrated their minds.

More than 500 students had applied for the contest, 20 of whom were sent to Wenzhou on July 11. Results will be announced in September.


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