The story appears on

Page C9

October 26, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Finding funds for female farmers

AN international school student has set up a foundation to help arrange micro-loans to female farmers in Qinghai Province who then use the funds to start small businesses. Nie Xin reports.

It often takes brains and heart to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Kevin Sun has both.

The senior at Shanghai American School Puxi campus has helped found the Apollo Microfinance Foundation, and its mission is to help train female farmers to be more self-sufficient.

A team from the foundation recently visited Datong County in Qinghai Province and organized training for more than 130 female farmers.

The program included basic financial training from expert on topics such as money management, interest rates and opportunity costs. Agricultural experts provided crop and animal husbandry training.

The women responded well to the program.

"We never thought we could make extra money and change our lives before the training," says one of the farmers. "We were powerless and never thought about making money and being self-sufficient. The training changed all that. We really want to learn more."

The basic idea behind the program was to provide a fishing rod, not just a fish.

Founder Sun says giving money may be kind-hearted but it isn't necessarily very efficient.

"My crowning achievement is the provision of business consultation," he says.

"I just felt like giving money to the women wasn't enough because receiving money doesn't necessarily mean efficient allocation."

Sun's interest in microfinance began two years ago when he was at a model United Nations conference. A guest speaker discussed the issue of microfinance.

"Since I was interested in pursuing a financial career in college, I decided to research opportunities in China and eventually stumbled upon Credit Ease and its Yinongdai program this summer. That's how it all began," he says.

Small business

Sun formed the Apollo Microfinance Foundation in June and it now has 94 members who have loaned 19,800 yuan (US$3,112) to about 150 farmers in need.

He says it's simple.

"The platform lends 100 yuan to change a farmer's future," the student says. "With the training provided, the women will be able to better themselves. Hopefully as time progresses, we will be able to raise more funds and develop more members to help more women."

A farmer can receive a maximum loan of 3,000 yuan as anything above that may be beyond their ability to repay. Thus far all loans have been repaid with interest. Those interested in loaning money to a farmer can go to (Chinese only).

The farmers have used the money to start small businesses. One started a window-and-door business for home renovation. Another opened a convenience store.

One woman started a recycling business while one farmer invested in a noodle-making machine to sell noodles.

Such small businesses have helped the women increase their incomes by as much as 50 percent, which can make a big difference in their lives.

Before the training sessions were organized, foundation team members visited Datong in June to speak with a local credit organization and the farmers.

"Before that, we had also visited Credit Ease and Yinongdai's headquarters in Beijing," Sun adds. "We spoke to their deputy chief and discussed the program scope, risk management and future development."

Sun says he wants to expand the program to Shanghai through Yinongdai's "person-to-person" platform. He also wants to add more members and sees a lot of potential among students, expatriates and overseas Chinese. Regardless, anyone who is willing to help will be welcomed as a member.

They recently opened an online store to sell farmer's crafts, another way for them to earn a little extra money. The English website ( is under construction.

They have also submitted proposal to various organizations such as the British Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce to get funding for more training programs.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend