Microentrepreneurship Award help financing dreams
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Giving a man fish will feed him today, yet teaching him how to fish will provide food for a lifetime. The old Chinese axiom characterizes the philosophy of the Microentrepreneurship Award in China sponsored by Citigroup Foundation and hosted by the China Banking Association.
Rural credit unions
The Microentrepreneurship Award promotes microfinance in China’s rural areas by training professionals in rural credit unions and teaching financing fundamentals to business people at the grassroots level in villages. It is part of an effort to help poor people who have dreams to start small businesses to climb out of poverty. It also offers rewards to outstanding rural credit union staff members and business individuals to encourage the spread of financial knowledge in China’s rural areas, raising the awareness of microfinance, as well as providing the real opportunities to small businesses.
Rural credit unions in cooperation with the Citigroup Foundation have now disbursed small loans to more than 300,000 clients throughout the country. The financial assistance, with support from the China Banking Association, is likely to inspire more rural credit unions to help more poor people with start-up business ideas.
“It proves that microfinance is a powerful mechanism for empowerment and reducing poverty because it frees the drive of the poor to improve their own lives,” says Wu Xiaoling, vice-governor of the People’s Bank of China, the central bank.
The Microentrepreneurship Award was begun in 2004. Citigroup invested US$200,000 in sponsoring this year’s program.
“Due to microcredit and some microfinance knowledge, my life has changed greatly,” says middle-aged countrywoman Wuyun Siqing, adding that she now realizes poor people also have the possibility to share in financial services. Wuyun lives in a desert region of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
A few years ago, life was very difficult, because hostile natural conditions led to poor farming and a tough livelihood. In 2004, she borrowed 1,000 yuan from a local rural credit union. With it, she started to breed sheep and plant trees to both generate income and improve the environment. With the seed fund and under the guidance from Citigroup, Wuyun’s sheep herd has robustly expanded and a large area of the desert has been turned green. She is now working together with 12 other farming wives to plant more trees.
This year, she won a special Microentrepreneurship Award – the Energy-Efficiency and Environmental-Protection Award.The central bank and the nation’s banking industry watchdog – China Banking Regulatory Commission – are working on a policy to give microfinance efforts a clear and proper legal environment to boost the development of microfinance in China.
Citigroup has donated US$1.5 million to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to provide better training and support services for microfinance by establishing the China Microfinance Training Center and the China Association of Microfinance. The center plans to train more than 1,000 management and staff from local microfinance institutions by 2009.
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