Bao Lei, a graduate student at the University of Bridgeport, has won a Chunhui Cup and $830,000 in funding at the Chinese Oversea Students Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, which is sponsored by the Chinese government.
Lei, 22, was awarded $330,000 in initial capital and a $500,000 interest-free loan from the Chinese government, along with office space in China and other assistance, for One Leaf, her start-up that will package and sell specialty tea.
Lei, 22, is earning her MBA at the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business.
“In China, there’s a lot of tea but there aren’t brands, and it’s hard for people to choose because nothing stands out. I’m developing very high-quality tea, with different flavors, that will help people choose,” said Lei, adding that her initial market surveys showed that consumers wanted three kinds of tea: “black and green tea; fruity tea, like the European or American-type of tea; and the kind of tea to slim down your body fat.”
Entering the tea business was inevitable, she added.
“My hometown is in Anhui Province, which is the country’s largest tea market. It’s where Maofeng, Guapian, and black tea are grown, which are three of the top ten most famous kinds of tea in China,” said Lei. “My family and I have studied various teas for several years.”
The Chunhui Cup is sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education and Ministries of Science and Technology to promote entrepreneurial ideas from Chinese students who are overseas with the aim of bringing them back to China to start businesses and careers there.
Contestants are invited to submit business plans that are evaluated by a panel of experts. This year, the Chunhui Cup honored 188 individuals around the world. Lei was among 58 from the Tri-State area who met with potential investors and received her award at the Chinese Consulate in New York in September.
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, firstname.lastname@example.org