Yuqing Rui, furniture seller

Client of Accion Microcredit China in Yuanbaoshan, Inner Mongolia, China

When we met Yuqing Rui, Accion Microfinance China was just out of start-up mode, with barely a score of clients. Not so Yuqing, who’d been in the retail furniture business for some 15 years and boasted an extensive showroom in Yuanbaoshan’s Xiangyang Market.

However, the concept of working-capital loans for expansion – at least those provided by creditors beyond the immediate family – was a new one for him. But as a sharp-eyed businessman, he didn’t hesitate long when approached by an AMC loan officer. Yuqing’s application for that first loan, of 70,000 RMB ($11,000) for 12 months, was approved quickly, which gave him more options for differentiating himself from the many other furniture retailers which share the strip mall that comprises Xiangyang.

Yuqing’s corner office, with its cozy coal-burning stove, faded, lumpy red couch, strung-bead doorway and Chinese pennants, still evokes a time and place untouched by cultural homogenization. But thanks to the power of microcredit, his adjoining 60,000-square foot showroom, with its new selection of glass-topped tables, stylish armoires, easy chairs and leather sectionals, would appeal to discriminating buyers from Yuanbaoshan to Beijing, New York and beyond.