Citigroup Foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aim to promote the issuance of small loans to China's numerous small enterprises and business individuals.
The two organizations yesterday announced the winners of the first-ever Global Microentrepreneurship Awards in China.
The awards are designed to commend entrepreneurial skills and recognize some of the country's most outstanding microentrepreneurs.
A total of 292 applicants participated in the awards assessment around China, and 25 people were selected as winners within the nine categories of rural agriculture, rural animal husbandry, rural non-agriculture, urban trade, urban processing, urban services, the best urban loan officer, the best rural loan officer and an overall special prize.
Renaud Meyer, UNDP's deputy representative to China, said poorer people have little financial capital, however there is no limit to their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial drive.
"They (the poor) require not charity but opportunity the same opportunities as everyone else. Microfinance is such a powerful mechanism for empowerment and poverty reduction because it unleashes the drive of the poor themselves to improve their lives and grow out of deprivation," Meyer said.
Richard Stanley, CEO of Citigroup China, noted that Citigroup wishes that such a program would serve to recognize and promote the role of microfinance in China's ongoing social and economic development.
The UNDP's work on the development of microcredit in China started in 1994. The program has so far disbursed microcredit to more than 300,000 clients throughout the country.
Based on over a decade of experience, UNDP has now been focusing at the policy level, and has found that legal and regulatory arrangements are one of the major factors hindering the program in the country.
The UNDP has collaborated with the People's Bank of China (PBC), and earlier this year published a comprehensive policy study surveying Chinese microcredit and the lessons learned.
(China Daily November 9, 2005)