Wei-Sheng Huang: South Africa's Global Young Entrepreneur Stars Award Recipient Takes Major Strides in the Traditional Manufacturing Industry
Wei-Sheng Huang, recipient of the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) 2023 Global Young Entrepreneur Stars Award, is a third-generation Taiwanese. Born and raised in Newcastle, South Africa, his family's entrepreneurial journey began when his grandfather migrated from Taiwan to Durban, South Africa, to establish a factory, eventually relocating to Newcastle. Specializing in sweater production, the family supplied domestic apparel chains across South Africa. Witnessing the diligence of his grandfather and father during his formative years instilled within him a profound passion for entrepreneurship.
Wei-Sheng started to learn about manufacturing industries during his time at the University of Pretoria. Recognizing South Africa's status as a developing country with expansive territories and relatively underdeveloped infrastructure, he identified a significant need for carton packaging—a crucial element in the country's predominantly road-based transportation network. Seizing this business opportunity, he gradually accrued practical experience from the ground up. Upon graduating from university in 2016, Wei-Sheng embarked on his entrepreneurial journey. Collaborating with fellow overseas Taiwanese and close friend Ding-Yang Wei, he co-established West Origin Corporation (Pty) Ltd, a carton production company. With the unwavering dedication of the company team, the volume of orders experienced rapid growth. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company's revenue continued to soar. Wei-Sheng has formulated plans to invest in expanding the factory in the near future, thereby expanding the company's production capacity.
Operating within the South African business landscape presented several challenges for Wei-Sheng's team. The limited resources available from the South African government for small startup ventures compounded the difficulties, especially with the nation grappling with the significant load-shedding crisis, which had a profound impact on various industries. Additionally, Wei-Sheng's company encountered the hurdle of unstable carton supply from their initial third-party manufacturers. Upon conducting a comprehensive analysis of the market supply and demand, Wei-Sheng and his partner Ding-Yang recognized the crisis as a potential turning point. They daringly opted to defy the prevailing trends by investing in new machinery, relocating the factory to an area with a more reliable power supply, and procuring large generators. These bold actions ensured a consistent supply of cartons and packaging bags meeting stringent quality standards.
Reflecting on the period of capital increase and factory expansion, Wei-Sheng mentioned his anxiety at that time. As the technicians were unable to secure South African visas, Wei-Sheng and Ding-Yang shouldered the responsibility of researching and installing the machinery and devising the factory's production lines, often working over 14 hours a day. With the collective efforts of the team, they successfully installed the first production line, an accomplishment that brought an indescribable sense of elation.
In tandem with the global momentum of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ESG movements, Wei-Sheng remains committed to carbon reduction and environmental preservation while simultaneously augmenting production capacity. He has implemented strategies for recycling waste generated in the production line, such as packaging tape and paper scraps, and has established a wastewater treatment system. By reusing and recycling the waste and wastewater derived from the carton production process, Wei-Sheng is dedicated to the overarching objective of transforming waste into valuable resources.
Wei-Sheng also emphasized that the acquisition of new machinery and resource optimization represents merely the initial phase for the company. Leveraging their backgrounds in the sciences during their university studies, both he and Ding-Yang plan to produce proprietary dyes and inks for carton manufacturing, thereby reducing costs and diversifying their market reach. Furthermore, their medium and long-term objectives involve the establishment of a secondary factory capable of producing cardboard. Wei-Sheng acknowledges that the pursuit of his aspirations necessitates unwavering determination and the willingness to confront challenges head-on.
It is worth noting that Wei-Sheng holds a profound appreciation for the significance of overseas Mandarin language education and the promotion of Taiwan's diverse cultural heritage. Despite the demanding nature of establishing his business, he remained steadfast in his commitment to the 'Pretoria Mandarin Class' every Saturday for several years. Serving as the program's deputy director, he actively worked along the OCAC policies on overseas education. In 2022, he assumed the role of a cultural mentor for various overseas cultural teaching initiatives and contributed to the coordination of several events, including the Overseas Traditional Mandarin Character Culture Festival.
Expressing his gratitude for being honored with the 2023 Global Young Entrepreneur Stars Award, Wei-Sheng acknowledged the OCAC for providing exceptional young Taiwanese entrepreneurs worldwide with the opportunity to foster mutual learning through the award selection process and benefit from business consulting services.
Wei-heng Huang, OCAC 2023 Global Young Entrepreneur Star Awardee.
Ding-Yang Wei (left) and Wei-Sheng Huang (right), Founders of the West Origin Corporation (Pty) Ltd.
Wei-Sheng Huang explains the company's carton production process.