China’s richest woman made watches in a factory – now she makes the glass for the Apple Watch

1 Apr 2015

Zhou Qunfei, founder and chief executive of Lens Technology

Born poor, Zhou Qunfei worked in a factory that made the glass for watches. Today she is China’s richest woman with a fortune of US$7.4bn and her business makes the glass for the Apple Watch.

The 44-year-old started her working life as a factory girl on the floor of a watch factory after leaving her home in China’s central Hunan Province to work in the industrial southern city of Shenzhen.

According to Xinhua and Tech in Asia, Qunfei has been named the richest woman in China with a fortune estimated to be worth more than US$7.4bn, ousting Chan Laiwa, founder of Beijing Red Sandalwood Cultural Foundation from the top sot.

Qunfei is the founder of Lens Technology, the company that makes the glass for the smartphones by Apple and Samsung and her company also makes the glass for the forthcoming Apple Watch.

Watch this space

The Apple Watch

Dubbed “the Queen of Mobile Phone Glass” Qunfei set up Lens Technology’s headquarters in Hunan and the company also makes the glass screens for tablet computers.

Lens Technology IPO’d on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in recent weeks, and Qunfei, who has an 88pc stake in Lens Technology, has seen her stake double in a matter of weeks from US$3bn to US$7.4bn.

Lens Technology has a market cap of US$8.5bn. The company has more than 60,000 employees and annual revenues are US$2.3bn.

Attributing her success to hard work and persistence, Qunfei maintains a low profile but stands to reap an even bigger fortune as the Apple Watch hits the shops.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years