Zhen's Seventeen Rooms Village, located in Zhenhai District, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, was the birthplace of Ningbo merchants, notably Zheng Shichang (1664-1728), who founded the Siheng Money Shop in Beijing during the middle period of the reign of Emperor Kangxi during the Qing Dynasty (1645-1911).
Ningbo Group consisted of merchants from Ningbo City as well as a few counties under the jurisdiction of today's Shaoxing and Zhoushan cities in Zhejiang Province. The group formed relatively late compared with other cliques, but immediately proved itself to be a far-sighted , outstanding guild. Largely, it was the Ningbo merchants who had helped develop Shanghai into the economic hub of the Far East by the 1930s.
Also known as the "grassroots businessmen”, the Ningbo merchants often started from scratch, engaging themselves in newly-emerging industries or acting as compradors for foreign traders. After gaining their first big profit, they turned to national industries, commerce and finance, producing a great number of early industrialists in modern China, including Yan Xinhou, founder of the first mechanized private ginning plant in 1887; Zhu Baosan, one of the most prominent Chinese capitalists and entrepreneurs in Shanghai; and Liu Hongsheng, "King of Match and Wool“. The group was well-known for its operations in banking, medicine, garment, sea food and insurance industries. With an open mind to absorb new management and operation concepts, the group successfully transformed itself to meet social changes.