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Owner of crowd-funded kindergarten duped

2014-07-25 10:08 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

A man who turned to crowd-funding to fulfil his dream of opening a Chinese culture kindergarten has seen the project turn into a nightmare.

Qiu Zhixin has called in police after discovering that the school he bought for 1.2 million yuan (US$192,120) in Fengxian District is in fact unlicensed and due to be closed.

Now Qiu faces the prospect of losing the cash — most of which was put up by 80 people who responded to a crowd-funding appeal he made on social messaging platform WeChat.

Qiu said the former kindergarten owner mentioned nothing about Fengcheng Town government closing the school when they signed a transfer contract in May.

"The news has come like a bolt out of the blue," said the 40-year-old. "We paid a lot of money for something that's basically a mess.

"I didn't expect this failure, but I have to take responsibility for it," Qiu added.

A teacher of guo xue — Chinese cultural studies — Qiu had dreamed of opening a guo xue kindergarten.

In April, he learned that Boyan Kindergarten in Fengxian was looking for a new owner and got the idea of buying it and realizing his dream project.

Qiu put a message on his WeChat account offering stakes in his guo xue kindergarten for 2,000 yuan.

In just over a month, Qiu attracted investment of 1.38 million yuan from 80 people, many of who also have a passion for guo xue.

He also borrowed more than 100,000 yuan for the project.

Qiu used 1.2 million yuan to buy the kindergarten and the rest of the cash was to be an initial fund for management.

But when Qiu went to apply for a new license for the kindergarten, he was told that he had bought an unauthorized school.

Fengcheng Town officials said they had repeatedly asked the former owner to close the kindergarten.

A town official, surnamed Wu, told Shanghai Daily that the town wouldn't approve a private kindergarten in the near future as there were already enough in the area.

"If Qiu had come to ask us about the kindergarten beforehand, he wouldn't have been taken in," Wu said.

Crowd-funders told Shanghai Daily they were in the dark about what had been happening since May.

"I am very confused about what's going to happen with the kindergarten. I don't want to blame anyone, but no one's talking about it anymore," said one investor, surnamed Shi.

She said nothing had been posted on the WeChat group which had been set up for investors.

Qiu said business naivety had cost him dear.

"I shouldn't have been so reckless as I'm a green hand in business," he said.

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