The big money is in real estate, tech, and investment finance. However, now and then, megastar billionaires are created from totally unique sectors.
Qin Yinglin is one such billionaire, a Chinese agriculture tycoon, and the world’s richest farmer.
Yinling is the chairman and president of the pig farming company Muyuan Foodstuff and is one of the richest people in China. According to Forbes, his net worth is US$30.8 billion as of March 15, 2021, which he earned as “the country’s largest pig breeder in the world’s biggest pork market”.
Qin Yinling saw his net worth jump 341% in 2019, making him the fastest-growing fortune on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Here’s his story:
Childhood and Early Life
Qin Yingling was born in 1965 in Henan, a landlocked province of China. He did not come from the affluent family background.
In 1982, when Qin was in high school, his father saved up money and bought 20 pigs. All but one died. This motivated him to better learn about pig farming. Yingling figured he could help people in his village earn money raising pigs. In 1985 he enrolled in Henan Agricultural University. He graduated at age 24 with a degree in Animal Husbandry.
When working at a food company after graduation, Qin Yingling met his to-be wife Qian Ying, who studied veterinary science at Henan University of Animal Husbandry and Economy. Together, they left their jobs and started out with a business in the pork industry with just 22 pigs. Talk about finding a partner who complements you (literally). Talk about starting out from virtually nothing.
Within two years, they had over 2,000 pigs. Within five years, they had over 10,000. By 2013, Muyuan Foodstuff Ltd. had two wholly-owned subsidiaries and a participating company and was raising more than one million pigs per year. On 28 January 2014, Muyuan stock started trading on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Damn. Damnnn. Read that again from the first paragraph.
Yinglin’s Chinese pork empire rocketed in the past two years due to shortages and higher prices during the 2019 African swine flu outbreak and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic. Pork is China’s most popular protein, and higher prices or a shortage can leave Chinese consumers upset with the government.
When China went into lockdown in early February last year, the supply of pork was restricted, further boosting Muyuan stock by 80% between February 3 and April 28. This added a quick $6bn to Yinglin’s fortune.
Muyuan (the company) has humble beginnings, and Mr. Qin and his wife Qian Ying carry the credentials of self-made multimillionaires. Just like any self-made success story, Qin Yinglin’s story also has notable learnings:
1) Identify a problem in any sector and make yourself competent to solve it. The way to creating a fortune is by creating value.
2) Be more apt to solve the problem by enrolling at a university, taking online classes, reading books, and talking to like-minded people.
3) Choose your partner wisely. In life. In business.
4) Good things take time. Keep hustling.