Walking into Yan Rong Ma’s shop in Yuanbaoshan, Chifeng Prefecture, Inner Mongolia, is like stumbling on a hidden treasure shop. The walls are lined with what look like gold bars and sheets of paper money, traditional symbols used in Buddhist ceremonies. However, while her family's shop now prospers, this wasn't always the case.
When her husband first left his sales position a few years ago to open the shop, inventory was slim and profits were inconsistent. Needing more capital, Yan Rong and her husband decided against borrowing from friends, and, instead, they secured a 12-month loan for U.S. $6,200 from Accion Microcredit China. Today, helping to preserve not only their business but important local customs, the couple supplies an even wider variety of religious tokens such as incense, Buddha statues and educational books. So whether you believe in the good luck of symbolic money or not, it is no question that access to real capital has brought good fortune upon the Ma family.