SEATTLE, Washington — The southwestern province of Guizhou, China has struggled with poverty for decades. Located in the foothills of a dense mountain range, it is one of the few areas in China without arable land, making agricultural pursuits difficult. Even so, Guizhou has now transformed itself into a place of hope and prosperity in only a few years. Thanks to the emergence of a new industry, Guizhou has been successful in crafting guitars to fight poverty.
The Arrival of the Guitar Industry in Zheng’an
In 2013, 26.8% of people in Guizhou lived in poverty. Just five years later, that percentage dropped to 4.3%.
This statistic corresponds with the arrival of the guitar-making industry in the province, which also began in 2013. Zheng’an, a county in the region, has found particular success, but not without the ambitious efforts of its locals.
In the 1990s, the industrial city of Guangzhou was home to a successful guitar-making business. With dismal local economic opportunities, a group of Zheng’an brothers moved to Guangzhou to work in the factory. After learning guitar-making skills and finding success, the brothers opened their own factory. They soon found themselves with hundreds of thousands of orders from foreign manufacturers like Tagima, the esteemed Brazilian enterprise.
In 2012, Zheng’an was still in poverty. Local government officials then approached the brothers about moving their factory production from Guangzhou back to their hometown. With a climate suitable for guitar production and financial support from the government, the brothers decided to move production back home to help Zheng’an natives find economic opportunities in their factories.
A Booming Movement Takes Hold in Zheng’an
The return of production to the county created more than 14,000 jobs and lifted over 6,000 Zheng’an residents out of poverty.
Now home to 64 different guitar manufacturers, Zheng’an is a county of economic growth. In 2018 alone, more than 6 million guitars were made, and over 6 billion yuan, or nearly $900 billion, were brought to the region. By crafting guitars to fight poverty, the region quickly found economic prosperity.
While the guitar industry has brought monetary value, it has also reunited families. Many women, previously forced to leave their families to seek employment, returned to work in the guitar-making industry in Zheng’an. Salaries at the factory are enough to bring an entire family out of poverty. With 60% of the workforce comprised of women, wives and mothers can both support and provide for their families.
Furthermore, a government-assisted relocation program has moved nearly 15,000 people from 3,000 households into safer homes in the region. Now, families can reunite in Zheng’an with newfound hope for a prosperous future.
Inspiring Hope for the Future
With thousands of people lifted out of poverty and thousands of jobs created, the county has crafted millions of guitars to fight poverty and shows no signs of slowing down. To celebrate their dedication and service to the music industry, the government of Zheng’an is planning to build the largest guitar museum in the world and offer guitar courses in local schools.
While guitars can provide a beautiful melody or a pleasurable hobby for many, it has also transformed poverty in the county of Zheng’an. The same place that was home to depressing poverty rates just seven years ago is now a musical production hub. By crafting guitars to fight poverty, thousands of residents have found a meaningful trade to support their families and lifestyles in their hometowns.
– Eliza Cochran