Grameen Trust will implement a US$ 1.3 million program to support microfinance in China. The grant received by Grameen Trust from Citigroup Foundation through Grameen Foundation USA, will enable Grameen Trust to identify new partners for support in China as well as to provide scaling up support to existing partners, to increase their outreach to the poor. Citigroup Foundation has previously supported GT's international replication efforts in five countries in Asia affected by the financial crisis.
Although China has had an impressive record in reducing human poverty over the last four and half decades, poverty on a vast scale continues to exist in rural areas.The number of people below the poverty line is reported to be 65 million.There are still significant inequities between rural and urban populations, between rich coastal areas and poor interior areas, between men and women, the ethnic minorities and the majority.Given the current poverty situation in China, there is scope for the expansion of microcredit as a way to bring resources to the poor to overcome poverty.
Grameen Trust recently fielded a visit to China to meet with its existing network partners, supported by funds that GT has received from GTZ Germany, UNCDF and AUSAID, as well as to meet with potential organizations that could be considered for support under the new partnership with Citigroup. Grameen Trust visited the field sites of Funding the Poor Cooperative (FPC) in Hebei, which it has supported since 1993 as well as the field sites of Mountain-River-Lake Project (MRL), Jiangxi province. The team from GT also met with CICETE and Rural Women Knowing All, two organizations interested in receiving support from Grameen Trust to expand their credit programs in Hebei and Inner Mongolia respectively.
The experience of FPC, under the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences, the oldest partner of Grameen Trust and the pioneer of microcredit in China, has demonstrated that the Grameen approach to microcredit for the poor is an effective way of reducing poverty in mainland China. Since 1993, FPC has received US$ 655,781 in soft loans from Grameen Trust, which has enabled it to expand its operations to Hebei and Henan provinces of China working in counties designated by the government as poor.Over the past 6 years, FPC has set up 9 sub-branches affiliated to the 3 county level branches, with a total outreach of 13,700 active clientele.
MRL which is working with poor farmers in the Lushan Mountain region in Jiangxi province has also implemented the Grameen model successfully. Although MRL has the capacity to scale up its activities, its outreach to date has been limited by insufficient loan funds. Grameen Trust has also supported microcredit programs in Yunan province. The programs, based in Malipo and Jinping counties, have a combined outreach of 13,500 poor families. Grameen Trust has also provided training and technical assistance to its partners in China over the years, which it will continue to do under the program with Citigroup.
GT believes that the new support from Citigroup will enable FPC, MRL and other microcredit programs to expand outreach and continue assisting families living in abject poverty to improve their socioeconomic condition in China.