Kinyu SCM CEO’s Speech at the 135th Canton Fair

The following is a transcript of a speech by Benjamin King, CEO of Kinyu SCM, at the GD Today Salon at the 135th Canton Fair on April 15, 2024.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, welcome to the Canton Fair. My name is Benjamin King. I am the founder and CEO of Kinyu SCM, a supply chain consultancy that creates people-focused solutions for your China operations.

It’s great to see so many people here on the first day of the Canton Fair. Since the pandemic, it has taken some time for people to return to China and the fair, but now it feels livelier than ever.
I will first give a bit of background about myself and my involvement with the Canton Fair, then I will share my thoughts on how the people in China make the magic happen.

I first came to China in 2012 when a Chinese friend from school invited me here. We traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha and Guangzhou.

I instantly fell in love with the country and wanted to return. While at university, I would save up money to return to China in the summers to visit friends and also start sourcing products for companies in the U.K.

Then in 2016, I had the opportunity to move to China and invest in a supply chain finance company in Changsha, Hunan. I was 24, and I jumped at the opportunity. I moved to Changsha to build a new life in China.

However, things did not go very smoothly for me. My Chinese was not very good, and I actually knew very little about developing business, and even less in China. My previous trips to China were fun, but now it was not a game. Over the years, I taught myself Chinese by reading insurance contracts, shipping documents and listening to my colleagues in the office.

I did manage to develop some business for this company, but I found more value in supporting the operations of foreign companies on the ground in China. When I moved to China, one of my key motivations was to be the bridge between Chinese and Western companies. I even wrote my master’s dissertation on the topic of guanxi when at university. But only when living and working in China did I truly come to understand how business in China is all about connecting with people and building relationships. The personal touch to business in China is what makes this country so special.
So I left the supply chain finance company and started working as a China country manager for a British company.

I would help the foreign company with supplier relationships, procurement, logistics, as well as sourcing. This brought me to the Canton Fair for the first time in 2018.

During COVID-19, I realized more and more companies needed supply chain support on the ground in China. Many companies wanted me to be their China country manager, even if I had no idea about their products!

Therefore, I decided to hire experts in different product categories, and then I would manage them on the ground for our clients.

This led me to set up Kinyu SCM and The China Desk, where we employ and manage supply chain personnel on the ground for foreign businesses. In 2020, my family and I moved to Guangzhou and decided to make this beautiful city our home and the base for our business. Our office is just a 10-minute drive from here (on a good day).

Our customers have purchased goods from China worth over $140 million USD over the last five years. The China Desk operation that Kinyu has set up plays an active role in managing this trade. The China Desk also creates jobs on the ground in Guangzhou, as well as in Tianjin, where we have a branch office.
We have the mission to develop new jobs on the ground in China, be a great employer and empower the supply chain operations of our clients.

So how does my story, and that of Kinyu, connect with the Canton Fair?

Well, I first visited the Canton Fair as a buyer, as someone on the ground. I helped my clients source products, and the Canton Fair was a great place to start.

I then also came to the Canton Fair as an exhibitor. We exhibited in the trade services section last year. This year, I am here as a visitor but mainly to see the Canton Fair and meet more people.

At the heart of China’s success story lies its people – the driving force behind the remarkable growth and prosperity that we witness today. The industrious spirit, untiring dedication and boundless creativity of the people have propelled China to the forefront of the global economy.

Many companies travel to China and to the Canton Fair to look for new products. But the most important aspect of the Canton Fair is the people.

Many of the products on show at the fair are developed by engineering talent in China. The components that make up these products are trucked across the country by people. These components are then assembled, for the most part, by people.

And today, the first day of the Canton Fair, buyers are here to meet the people who represent this supply chain.

In every corner of the country, from the bustling cities to the distant countryside, it is the people who breathe life into the supply chain — the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to ensure the seamless flow of goods and services across borders. Their ingenuity, skills and commitment to excellence form the bedrock of China’s manufacturing industry, making it the undisputed hub of global trade.

Just like the Canton Fair and supply chains across China, our company Kinyu is built on the foundations of people.

So, if you can take anything away from my speech today, it is that business in China is all about relationships and people. Find the right partner, and make sure you communicate well with them and build a strong personal relationship – and then the business will flow smoothly.

So today and for the next three weeks, I wish you all the best in meeting the right people and finding the right products for your business to succeed.

Thank you for your time, and I wish you a wonderful stay in Guangzhou.

Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

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Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

Need More On-The-Ground Tips & Resources?

Join our monthly digest for an overview of our blogs on Supply Chains, China HR policies, and managing Asia supply chain operations remotely.

By submitting my information, I agree to Kinyu's Privacy Policy.