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How A Former Factory Girl Became A Billionaire: Zhou Qunfei, The Richest Woman In China?

Zhou Qunfei, who launched Lens Technology, is the richest women in China

Once a lowly factory worker, Zhou Qunfei, chairwoman and CEO of Hunan-based touch-screen maker Lens Technology, became the richest woman in China on March 30 with a personal fortune estimated to be worth more than US$7.6 billion – and counting.

Originally a ‘factory girl’ in Shenzhen, Zhou Qunfei was once earning less than $150 a month, now she’s a billionaire, 12 days after her company went public.

A 45-year-old woman from a rural village in central China’s Hunan Province, Zhou Qunfei, has dethroned the uber-rich real estate investor, Chan Laiwa, founder and chairwoman of Beijing property developer Fuwah International Group.

Chan Laiwa is worth US$7.1 billion.

“I’m not qualified to be a high-profile person,” Hunan Daily quoted her as saying. “I think it’s important not to get carried away when you are successful – and not to let yourself feel gloomy when times are bad.”

Zhou Qunfei was born into a poor family in Xiangxiang. Her father was blinded in an accident in the 1960s, and her mother died when she was five. She quit school at 15 and went to work in Shenzhen.

The determined businesswoman-turned-billionaire, Zhou started her working life on the floor of a glass manufacturing factory “Bai En” in the industrial southern city of Shenzhen after leaving her home in China’s central Hunan Province.

Zhou Qunfei, now 45, married the owner of her previous workplace in 1994 but the couple are understood to have divorced around 2000. In 2008, she married her current husband Zheng Junlong, with whom she started the Lens Technology and who is a year younger than her.

Zhou founded Lens Technology in 2003. Her company is renowned for producing scratch-resistant touch screen glass. The company quickly blossomed and expanded in size, supplying glass covers for electronic gadgets such as smartphones, computers and cameras, Zhou’s wealth skyrocketed.

Her company shipped 476 billion pieces of protective glass in 2013, including 451 million for mobile phones and 25.5 million for table PCs, with a market share of 23.37 per cent.

Lens has more than 60,000 employees.

Her company supplies some of the world’s foremost smartphone manufacturers (including Samsung and Apple), and its glass is estimated to be in use in up to 21% of the world’s smartphones.

–Follow me on Twitter @ceoworld.

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Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhiraj
Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhiraj is the CEO and editorial director at CEOWORLD magazine, the leading global business magazine written strictly for CEOs, CFOs, top managers, company directors, investors, senior executives, business leaders, and high net worth individuals.
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