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Global Microentrepreneurship Winners Honored
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Citigroup Foundation and the UN Development Program (UNDP) announced the Chinese winners of their Global Microentrepreneurship Awards in Beijing yesterday, which aim to promote microcredit as a tool for poverty alleviation and social inclusion.

Renaud Meyer, UNDP's deputy representative in China, said poorer people have little financial capital, but there is no limit to their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial drive.

"They require not charity but the same opportunities as everyone else," he said. "Microfinance is such a powerful mechanism for empowerment and poverty reduction because it unleashes the drive of the poor to improve their lives themselves."

The awards, the first of which were given last year but which included China for the first time among 34 participating countries this year, are a key element of the UN's International Year of Microcredit. A global awards ceremony, to which winners from nine countries including China were invited, was held in New York on the same day.

Richard Stanley, CEO of Citigroup China, said his company wished such a program could serve to promote the recognition and role of microfinance in China's ongoing social and economic development.

A total of 292 applicants participated in the awards in China, and 25 were selected as winners of nine categories: rural agriculture, rural animal husbandry, rural non-agriculture, urban trade, urban processing, urban services, best urban loan officer, best rural loan officer and an overall special prize.

Citigroup Foundation and UNDP launched the awards' selection process to the press on August 3, seeking to highlight the importance of building inclusive financial sectors. In China, the awards process was facilitated by a team including UNICEF, the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards Student Alliance and Microfinance Promotion Network.

The UNDP's work on the development of microcredit in China began in 1994, and its program has so far disbursed microcredit to more than 300,000 clients throughout the country.

It is now focusing on the role of policy, and has found that legal and regulatory arrangements are one of the major factors hindering Chinese microcredit development.

The UNDP has collaborated with the People's Bank of China, and earlier this year published a comprehensive policy study surveying the state of Chinese microcredit.

(China Daily November 9, 2005)

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