She is smiling as she walks out of Yang’s chicken farm, holding a booklet and discussing microloans with a prospective applicant. She reminds him to complete the forms and explains that she’ll return in a few days to collect them.
Her manner is friendly and sincere, but it is her confidence that shines most brightly. Li Hong is a representative of the Yongji Fuping Microcredit Co. Ltd.(Yongji Fuping), and her job is to empower people in rural, low-income areas to become small-business owners.
After leaving her job as a private teacher ten years ago, she didn’t want to end up mired in housework or laboring in the fields. That’s when she joined Yongji Fuping as a microloan broker. In the six years since, she’s risen to the rank of Assistant Director, but her rise was not without setbacks. In fact, things became so problematic in the first few months that she once feared she’d be fired.
“When I started working here, I thought I’d just have to chat with people from the village, gather information, give out loans and collect loan payments,” Li Hong recalls. She believed that with the communications skills honed during her teaching years, the job would be effortless. She was in for a rude awakening.
A series of setbacks shook her confidence, and interactions with the villagers became excruciating. “I could barely speak. As soon as I opened my mouth, people rejected me. People from my own hometown. They assumed I was part of a pyramid scheme, and I became known as someone who went around trying to cajole people.”
Though she can now laugh at these setbacks, at that time she was really devastated. Her diminished confidence led her to question her self-worth. She retreated further and further into her shell, and was afraid to speak up in meetings.
The very thought of helping others improve their lives became a cruel irony.
One day Li Hong’s manager asked to see her. “I thought this was the end,” she admits. In fact, he only wanted to help her. He began by sharing his own stories of rejection, of the many challenges he faced when getting started. And then he helped Li Hong analyse the causes for her difficulties and the steps she could take to get beyond them.
Li Hong quickly realized that though setbacks are inevitable, you’re not a failure until you give up. The most important thing is to keep trying. Every difficulty brings with it an opportunity to learn, to grow, to become stronger. Embracing this wisdom, Li Hong felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
From that point on, Li Hong’s performance steadily improved. The only pathway towards progress is through undying pursuit of excellence. Though aware that not every attempt would end in success, she was no longer afraid of failure. This enabled her to regain the confidence. She also embarked on a journey of self-improvement, taking training courses, broadening her perspective, and sharing experiences with her co-workers.
Li Hong’s transformation also had a positive effect on her family. In addition to providing financially, she’d always valued her roles as wife and mother. Now, she was able to teach her son important life lessons based on her work experiences. She became a role model in his eyes. Having the support of her family further strengthened Li Hong’s resolve, so that during even the most challenging times, she remains optimistic and does her job exceptionally well.
Li Hong’s willingness to keey trying in the face of adversity allowed her to achieve far more than she thought possible. Though it was her hard work and tenacity that led to her success, she gives much of the credit to her employer. “Thanks to Fuping for trusting me and all the people working here,” she says. “And thanks to them for providing an opportunity for us farmers to become well-trained professionals.”
In one of her favorite books, There is Only One Most Important Matter, a passage states, “In our lives there are many important things, but there is only one most important matter. We must discover what that is. Then undertake what we should undertake. Persevere in what we have chosen.”
Li Hong has done just that.
Microfinance is hardly a new concept for the public. Many people regard it as a business service that provides customers with financial support in exchange for high commercial returns. However, for the rural farmers who have actually used microcredit, the loaned money is not only full with social mission, but a booster for a better life, helping the disadvantaged break the bottleneck of life, realize their dreams, and even escape the cruel cycle of poverty.
You can make money, but you can’t replace a life.
“Old” Yang is a farmer in Zhongxiao village of Heming Town. He is over 50-year old but with half of his hair white. Six year ago, his son got married and Yang soon became a grandfather. He couldn’t have been happier when he mentioned these things.
Yang had never been afraid to face the challenges in his life, but when it was discovered that his grandson had epilepsy, he was distressed. The boy was hospitalized, but even after the family almost spent all their savings, his epilepsy had not been brought under control. They needed more money for treatment. “You can make money, but you can’t replace a life.” Yang said to himself as he held his beloved grandson. “But how are we going to make money?” Perhaps pigs are the answer, he thought. He could raise some piglets in his free time to increase income.
But Yang was worried that even if he sold the two pigs, the only “property” he had, the proceeds would not bring in enough to buy piglets. When a representative from Chengdu Dayi Fuping Microcredit Co., Ltd. introduced microcredit service to him, Yang discussed with his families several times and finally decided to borrow loans from Fuping in order to buy pigs.
In the beginning, he applied for 20,000RMB to buy 15 piglets. The loan was quickly approved. As planned, Yang bought the piglets and several months later sold them. Just like that, he had earned several thousand RMB. He repeated the cycle several times, and, as his credit improved, the amount he was able to borrow increased from 20,000 RMB to 35,000 RMB. Eventually, his grandson’s epilepsy was brought under control, and Yang and his family were once again happy.
The Magic Lamp
As far back as she can remember, Yao Mengyi wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. It was a big dream for someone from rural Shanxi Province, and though her parents and in-laws are not well educated, they liked the idea of having a teacher in the family. She left home to attend an early childhood education certification program. In 1998, she graduated from the junior college and began teaching in public and private preschools. Though she enjoyed her work and gained valuable experience, she couldn’t stop thinking about the children of her village. Determined to provide a better education for the children in her hometown, she embarked on a tough journey to open a preschool in her village.
In 2002, Mengyi returned home and opened Sunshine Preschool. Running her own school was even more challenging than she’d imagined. Though she has overcome many challenges and difficulties, a severe fire in 2005 forced her to close down the preschool. Even so, Mengyi refused to leave her dream in the ashes. The following year, she reopened her preschool in a nearby village, and for the past ten years has been providing local pre-school children with their first taste of formal education. Though rewarding, it hasn’t been easy, and financial pressures sometimes threaten the school’s survival. This is when Mengyi turns to the “magic lamp,” her nickname for Fuping Microcredit. “Each time I have a financial problem, I just rub the lamp and the Fuping genie pops out to solve it.” Since 2009, she has applied for four microloans from Fuping Microcredit, and the magic lamp has always delivered. She used the loans to equip her preschool with outdoor facilities and essential activity materials.
Later on, Mengyi kept moving forward on her way and began to take in charge of another local preschool. She is not only the mother of a girl and a boy, but also feels a maternal connection to all the children in her school. Her parents-in-laws also enjoy helping out at her schools, further enhancing the familial environment. And so, the dream comes true—with a little help from the magic lamp.
Born a Farmer, Destined to Change Lives
Cao Kang was born on a farm, raised on a farm, and had his identity shaped on a farm. But his destiny would take him beyond the fields in which his family toiled. After his discharge from the army in 2001, Kang returned home. But because jobs were extremely scarce, he once again found himself laboring in the fields. Soon, he began a logistics management job at a local professional training center. One day, he learned that a nearby school did not provide lunches for its students. Most of these children lived with their grandparents, for their parents were away, trying to make a living in the cities. Having no money to buy their own food, the students either skipped lunch or walked—sometimes miles—to their homes to eat, and then raced back to class. Kang was certain there was a better way. He spoke to the school and helped them devise a plan to open a cafeteria. It was an immediate success. Not only did it serve lunch, it also became a haven—a safe place for the children to study after school as they waited for their grandparents to come and take them home.
Nine years later, as the kids grew up and their grandparents became older, Kang rose to another challenge: he opened a home for the elderly. This time, however, he faced significantly greater challenges. There were complications in securing and maintaining a suitable site, financial difficulties, and, as more and more elderly took up residence, it became necessary to expand services. With no other recourse, Kang turned to Yongi Fuping Microcredit Co., Ltd. Though initially he was able to borrow only a small sum, the loan was granted quickly and it proved to be a great help in meeting the immediate challenges.
From ensuring that schoolchildren are able to eat a proper lunch, to providing the elderly with a safe and caring home, Cao Kang has worked to fulfil his destiny of helping others. Yongji Fuping Microcredit. takes a non-traditional way to help people like Cao Kang—people with a heartfelt desire to improve the lives of the rural poor. We are committed to lift people who can identify local people’s needs and carry out concrete steps to turn ideas into real practices.
With heart-felt capitals, non-profit microfinance can make dreams come true and inspire us all.