Faces of Foshan

Home > News & Publications > Faces of Foshan

Peter Helis

Managing Director of Helis & Associates

What has been your experience in Guangdong, and how did you come to base Helis & Associates in Foshan?

How would you describe Foshan's business environment to a German company? How would you advise them on the South China market?

How did you get involved with the Internet+ and Made in China 2025 exhibitions in Foshan?


What has been your experience in Guangdong, and how did you come to base Helis & Associates in Foshan?

Having lived in the Pearl River Delta for over 13 years, I am a fan of the area. Since I previously lived in Hong Kong and made regular visits to Guangdong since 2005, the transition was quite easy.

In those days, I was selling German textile machines so I visited many textile factories, traveling between cities in Guangdong. Back then, I have to admit, I did not have much of an impression of Foshan, because I mainly spent my time in factories. But not until 2013, when I moved to Shunde District of Foshan as the GM of the German Chamber of Commerce’s Service entity, did I start to learn about and like the city. During that time, I worked closely with the Sino-German Industrial Services Zone and witnessed the massive Sino-European Service Center (SESC} project take shape so fast with such high quality.

So when I left the Chamber to set up Helis & Associates, it was an easy decision to base my company in the SESC.

How would you describe Foshan's business environment to a German company? How would you advise them on the South China market?

Foshan, in the heart of the PRD, has for a long time been on the forefront of China’s rapid development. Some German companies realized this very early, such as the famous lighting maker OSRAM, who has been in Foshan since the 90’s. But especially in recent years German companies have invested more in Foshan. The reasons to come to Foshan are manyfold. Apart from an advanced infrastructure and a welcoming attitude, the cost of housing, living, and labor are still cheaper than its neighbors Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Also, because the high savings rate of around 26%, there is still huge potential for companies interested in reaching consumers in South China. I often compare Foshan and the PRD to Southern Germany. The region is characteristically dominated by privately owned companies who are often hidden champions in their field.

Last but not least, living here is also healthier than living in the northern parts of China. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States published in 2013, the life expectancy of people living in South China is 5 years longer than of those living in the north.

How did you get involved with the Internet+ and Made in China 2025 exhibitions in Foshan?

To give some context, we founded Helis & Associates with the aim to bring the best of Germany and China together. We strongly believe that there are many opportunities for both countries in their markets but the exchange has to be strengthened. We also felt once German companies learned more about South China, they would want to invest. So when we were approached by Foshan to participate in the Internet Plus and Made in China 2025 exhibitions, specifically the Conference on “Made in China 2025 meets German Industry 4.0“, we thought that would be a brilliant opportunity for Helis & Associates to make its mark and bring more attention to Foshan, a city still quite unknown to Europe. That is why we took the chance and invited one of Europe’s most revered politicians to the event, the former vice chancellor and foreign minister Mr. Joschka Fischer. With him, we invited more than 50 representatives of German and European businesses.