Chinese Agriculture Technology Demonstration Centres (ATDC) in Africa are designed to be aid programmes managed by business-driven entities to operate into the future without requiring subsidies from the Chinese government. Such an arrangement requires Chinese staff to perform dual roles as aid workers and businesspeople. This leads to blurred identities and roles among Chinese actors, and misunderstandings among local Zimbabwean partners. The blurred line between aid and business has created misperceptions and tensions among the different actors. Nonetheless, the ATDCs offer an alternative model of aid that deserves further empirical examination.