Linortek President’s Inspiring Journey: From Poverty to Exporter of the Year

SBA Honored Liyu Nalven the 2024 Small Business Exporter of the Year Award at the Small Business Day & SBTDC / SBCN 40th Anniversary Celebration Event

In an inspiring speech at the Small Business Day & SBTDC / SBCN 40th Anniversary event yesterday, Liyu Nalven, President of Linortek, shared her remarkable journey from desperate poverty in rural China to being honored as the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Exporter of the Year for North Carolina.

“I am proud to receive this award today!” Liyu declared. “I was born in a small village in southern China. At that time, we were so poor, all my childhood memories were of hunger – we didn’t have enough food to eat.”

Liyu vividly recalled how her family’s situation became even more dire after disobeying China’s one-child policy. “In order to pay the 500 yuan (US$70) fine, my family was forced to sell our only home, leaving no other option than living in a windowless, mud-walled pigsty for over 3 years.”

Despite the harsh conditions, Liyu’s parents instilled in her the value of perseverance. “In my early life, my parents taught us: if you want to change your life, you have to work hard. So I did.”

Liyu went on to earn degrees in accounting and international trade in college. In 2010, she immigrated to the U.S. to pursue the American Dream with her husband. However, just that same year, he lost his job, forcing them into entrepreneurship.

“That’s how Linortek was born,” said Liyu. ” For the first two years, we worked more than ten hours a day, seven days a week to bring the business to life. We now proudly provide good pay and benefits to our many amazing employees”.

With gratitude, Liyu said, “First, I want to thank the SBTDC for their support. Without your help, we couldn’t have gone this far.” She explained how in 2014, the SBTDC helped them develop a business plan and secure a bank line of credit that saved the fledgling business. By 2023, Linortek’s annual revenues had multiplied over thirty times compared to 2014 when they first met with the SBTDC.

The SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants were another game changer for Linortek. “These combined resources have been the keys that led to sales into Canada, Australia, Ecuador, New Zealand, the Middle East, and Mexico. Today, exports contribute 18% of total sales.”

Liyu concluded by praising North Carolina’s pro-business environment and the collaboration between state and federal business support agencies: “I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the people and organizations who have supported Linortek’s journey! Thank you!”