Adventures to Yiwu and GE
Post by Kim Dvorak & Arjun Murthy
This week, the BRIC 2014 group went to two major locations: Yiwu and GE. Yiwu is a third tier city located south of Shanghai, and is home to many small commodity factories as well as one of the largest commodity markets in the world. Spending a night there we were able to visit many parts of Yiwu. On the first day, we visited a sock factory, MengNa. We toured the factory, which was made up of over 4,000 sock machines, and were able to see just how socks were made. We also toured their show room, which contained socks for companies like H&M, Puma, Old Navy, and more.
The next morning, before departing back to Shanghai, we visited the massive commodities market, which contained everything from socks and belts to computers and LED signs. It is so massive that if one were to spend just three minutes in each store, it would take them over a year. There were entire stores, or even aisles devoted to just one item, such as flashlights or showers. It was quite a sight! Unfortunately, however, because it was a commodities wholesale market, many of us were unable to purchase what we wanted due to the 100 minimum order quantity, as these stores were full of only samples, usually with the factory located just a few blocks away in Yiwu. Overall, the manufacturing city was a great addition to our China adventure.
The second highlight of our week was visiting the GE technology park in Pudong, Shanghai. The GE building was very modern and grand, and was the site of one of five global R&D sites maintained by GE. We received a guided tour of the campus, and learned about GE’s rich history in China. In fact, GE has operated in China for more than 100 years, which is older than the current People’s Republic of China itself! After our tour, we viewed a presentation about GE’s business and how the company was taking advantage of opportunities that arose in the China market. Many of GE’s biggest divisions, such as power, aviation, and water, were well placed to take advantage of China’s growing need for infrastructure and transportation. Overall, both of the week’s activities allowed the group to learn more about the business opportunities in China, both from a small-scale merchant’s perspective as well as from a big company’s perspective.