Hong Kong & China  |  22 Oct - 2 Nov 2018

In October and November 2018, GIFT’s 60th Global Leaders Programme (GLP) brought together 24 global executives to undertake a project aimed at developing a sustainable supply chain for apple production in Xianyang, Shaanxi Province and Yongji, Shanxi Province in China.

The programme was conducted in partnership with Austria Juice, one of the largest producers of apple juice concentrate in Europe, and Puhan Cooperative, a multifunctional agricultural cooperative based in Yongji, Shanxi. The business model proposed by the participants suggests a 20-year cooperation between Austria Juice and Puhan Cooperative. It aims to help Austria Juice secure a stable supply of apples that are produced with a focus on environmental protection and social impact that responds to the challenges of smallholder farming in China. Through the cooperation and by scaling Puhan’s cooperative model it also helps to connect smallholder farmers to a modern value chain thus providing them with a stable income and healthy community living in Xianyang and Yongji.

You can read the full business plan in English and Chinese, as well as the executive summary below.


In Module One, participants took part in candid discussions about the trends shaping Asia and the world, learned from the insights of prominent guest speakers, and reconsidered their behaviours as leaders through self-awareness and feedback from GIFT facilitators. These mind-set shifts prepare participants for the work they will do for the experiential component: developing a business model for sustainable apple production in Xianyang and Yongji.


Joseph Phi, President, LF Logistics described what effective leadership means in a volatile world.


Keith Richburg, Director of Journalism and Media Studies Centre, the University of Hong Kong spoke vividly about his vast experience in journalism.

Albert Wong, CEO, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks talked about innovation in the context of Hong Kong and China.


After a week of classroom sessions, participants travelled to Shaanxi province in China to take part in the experiential component of the GLP. Participants met with project stakeholders, which in this case were Austria Juice and their factory staff, Yongshou county farmers who are their suppliers, and government officials and apple-related corporations in the area. After that, they visited Puhan Cooperative in Yongji in Shanxi province to meet their chairperson Madame Zheng Bing and to see how a cooperative organises farmers in a way that minimises costs, improves farming practices, and raises their standard of living.

Austria Juice factory - participants met with Austria Juice staff, learnt about the processes of apple juice concentrate production, and spoke with the Yongshou Fruit Bureau chief.

Apple collection point - participants spoke with farmers at an apple collection point, and a so-called “Apple King” who manages some 60 of these collection points for Austria Juice. They also met with the Shaanxi Apple Group (Shaanguo) and visited their large scale commercial apple farm.

Puhan Cooperative - Cooperative Chair Madame Zheng Bing spoke to participants candidly about how Puhan evolved - from a dancing class to what is now a cooperative that organises 3800 households in Yongji. Participants then met with apple farmers, cooperative staff, and visited their service centre as well as an odourless pig farm that is using a fermentation bed technique.

Yuanjia Village - This village showcases another model for cooperative organisation. Each household is given the necessary support by the village cooperative to start their business in the village. Villagers also act as shareholders in some businesses. Yuanjia Village has since garnered national attention as a new model for rural development. Mr. Guo Ben, Deputy Chief of the village talked about their concept of a “Huxiang University” - a place where “crazy ideas” (“huxiang”) are merited.


Each Global Leaders Programme designed by GIFT is tied to a real-world field project emphasising the need for participants to break-free from the comfort of their respective industries and to address the issues surrounding the country through a cross-fertilisation of ideas.

The site visits inform participants to come up with business models best suited to the nature of the country and that leverages existing expertise from our partners. Teams brainstorm ideas to come up with five different business models, and over the week consolidate these into one final business model and business plan and pitch this to our partners - Austria Juice and Puhan Cooperative.


The programme culminated with an Open Forum, where participants presented the key highlights of their business model to an audience of Austria Juice management, Puhan Cooperative staff and farmers, and Yuanjia Village representatives. The presentation was then followed by Q&A.

The proposed business plan suggests a 20-year cooperation between Austria Juice and Puhan Cooperative. It suggests a model where Austria Juice and Puhan would exchange expertise and Puhan would allocate farmland dedicated to supplying apples for industrial use. In the future there is potential for the creation of a Xianyang Cooperative that would emulate Puhan’s model to meet the remaining demand for Austria Juice. Ultimately the model would be fulfilling many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (such as reducing poverty and sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth) thereby raising the profile of both parties.

The refined business plan will be shared on this page shortly. Feel free to contact us at for more information about this and other programmes.