ACCION Launches Microfinance Operations in Inner Mongolia

ACCION Microcredit China Among the First Foreign-funded Organizations
to Deliver Financial Services to China’s Working Poor

Boston, Mass., March 4, 2010– ACCION® International, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, announced today that it has inaugurated ACCION Microcredit China (AMC) in Chifeng Prefecture, Inner Mongolia, to deliver financial services to the region’s working poor.  AMC officially opened its doors in early December, and is already making microloans to local entrepreneurs.

ACCION Microcredit China is the first foreign-funded microcredit company in Inner Mongolia, and only the second foreign-funded microcredit company in China.  It is also the first microfinance institution in which ACCION has taken a majority share.

Microlending in the world’s most populous country remains nascent, at best, hindered by the withdrawal of the country’s largest banks from rural areas, and exacerbated by a challenging regulatory environment.  In Inner Mongolia, 40 percent of the population remains below the poverty line.  While the Chinese economy has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, income inequality between the country’s coastal regions and interior provinces is escalating, with an urban dweller’s income now three times greater than that of his rural counterpart.  Microcredit provided by nonprofits such as ACCION provides an important avenue of support for the country’s small entrepreneurs.

AMC has been established to test and adapt ACCION’s expertise in individual lending methodologies to the unique needs of Chinese microentrepreneurs.  Over the next five years, ACCION Microcredit China is expected to provide working-capital and fixed-asset loans for thousands of urban and rural, small and medium-sized enterprises in Chifeng.  Loan amounts start at 1,000 RMB (US$ 150).

“We are very excited to help launch the microfinance industry in China,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of ACCION.  “Our new operations in Chifeng demonstrate ACCION’s commitment to enter some of the world’s most challenging and underserved regions, to help bring financial access to people most in need.”

ACCION International is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need – microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services – to work their way out of poverty.  A world pioneer in microfinance, ACCION was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil.  ACCION International’s partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $50 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the United States.  In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 28.5 million loans totaling $23.4 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.

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ACCION is a registered trademark of ACCION International.

Bruce J. MacDonald
SVP, Communications
ACCION International
Tel. +1 617-616-1546