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Small Loans Help Laid-off Women Find New jobs
Over 6,000 laid-off women in the northern port city of Tianjin have found new jobs or started up their own businesses over the past four years with small loans extended to them under a United Nations program.

The program, begun in 1998 to encourage laid-off women to re-establish themselves, has been operated by the United Nations Development Program, Australian Agency for International Development and the Tianjin municipal government and will run till the end of this year.

Over the past four years, 2,204 laid-off women have received a 4,000 yuan (US$480) loan as a start-up fund for their own businesses, and 99 percent of the loans have been repaid, said an official with the Tianjin Municipal Women's Federation.

Meanwhile, these businesses have provided jobs for 4,000 other laid-off women in Tianjin, he said.

Most applicants for the loan are between 25 and 50 years old and find it difficult to be re-employed due to poor education and scant technical skills.

About 15 percent of these women are single parents, and 75 percent are from families where both the husband and wife have lost their jobs.

Most loan recipients have reported an income rise of between 300 yuan (US$36) and 800 yuan (US$96) per month.

Dinyar Laikaka, a UN official, has spoken highly of Tianjin's effective management of the small loan program, saying it is "of international standard".

Tianjin was selected for the small loan program as it is the largest industrial city in north China. The number of laid-off women accounts for 30 percent of the three million laid-off workers in the municipality, according to a local official in charge of labor and social security issues.

The Chinese government has made sustained efforts in recent years to aid laid-off people by opening training programs, seeking job opportunities, distributing unemployment benefits and ensuring a minimum allowance to cover their basic necessities.

Between 1998 and the first half of this year, China's state firms laid off more than 26 million workers to raise efficiency and profits, and so far over 17 million have found new jobs, according to figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2002)

Small Loans Aid Laid-off Workers
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