Sourakhata Tirera's office in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, stands right beside the well-known International Trade City, the world's biggest hub for small commodities.
Inside the office of the 43-year-old Senegalese, a traditional Chinese landscape painting hangs on the wall and a set of teaware sits on the side table. He enjoys drinking oolong tea.
Located in the center of Zhejiang, about 300 km from Shanghai, Yiwu calls itself a "sea of consumer goods, paradise for shoppers" according to its official website. Over 400,000 foreign buyers come to the city every year.
A total of 15,000 foreign business people from more than 100 countries and regions live near Yiwu's vibrant wholesale markets. Tirera is one of them.
He can still recall his excitement when he first arrived in Yiwu. "There were a great variety of beautiful things, and their prices were even more attractive," he said.
As one of the first foreigners to visit Yiwu, Tirera found it a gold mine. He said even his clients thought he set the prices too low when he brought gadgets back to sell in Senegal.
At that time, Tirera often traveled between Dakar and Yiwu. After visiting Yiwu for 10 to 20 days, he usually returned home with two to three containers of goods.
Yiwu has gradually become his "second hometown." In 2007, Tirera set up an office in the city and thought about settling down.
Over the years, the one-room office has grown into a company with over 40 staff that ships more than 3,000 containers of goods to countries around the globe every year.
"Yiwu's business environment has become more and more favorable due to even better products and more efficient service," he said in fluent Chinese, with a local accent.
Tirera's success in business has made him well-known in Senegal. He has a copy of a Senegalese newspaper featuring a story titled "Sourakhata Tirera, a Senegalese businessman made in China."
"Yiwu is a world-class city. He loves China and Yiwu. All the achievements he has made were here. He can't be separated from Yiwu," he translated the newspaper story into Chinese.
Tirera was an invited guest at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation this September, and addressed the first China-Africa Private Sector Cooperation Summit held in Hangzhou last week.
He said that he looks forward to a better future for China-African cooperation.
"Yiwu is also taking an active part in the construction of Belt and Road Initiative, making it a more influential service platform for international trade," Tirera said.
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