She took care of all the housework and also worked the fields, planting potatoes, corn and other crops.
However, in the area where total annual rainfall was about 200 mm and evaporation was as high as 2,700 mm, her efforts to feed her family were destined to fall short.
In 2003, she planned to purchase several Tan lambs and sell them as sheep. But her family already owed about 30,000 yuan (US$4,764)
to relatives, and no one wanted to lend her more.
Fortunately, she was able to qualify for her first branch of micro loan of 1,000 yuan (US$158.2) from Huimin Micro-loan Co, a newly-established micro loan institution.
“Together with my 1,000 yuan deposit, I bought eight sheep and sold 15 of their lamb sfor 3,000 yuan (US$476.4) on year’s end,” Song said.
She was able to pay back the loan and borrow more to expand on her business.
Her flock grew year after year. Now, she has paid off her debts and she could provide for four family members’ daily spending needs.
In 2010, she opened an agricultural products shop to sell seeds, fertilizer and farming tools with all of her savings of 40,000 yuan (US$6348).
It was the first shop of this kind in Guantan village, which brought great convenience to nearby farmers.
She was eager to introduce more products, but she had reached her borrowing limit at the Huimin Micro-loan Co.
The sum was collected from 21 online lenders with 100 yuan (US$15.8) interest for ayear.
“You cannot imagine how excited I was,” Song said. “I could increase my stocks and prepare for next year’s spring farming.”
Song was not the only beneficiary.
The lending platform was launched by CreditEase in 2009 to serve China’s farmers, especially women. It worked closely with local micro loan institutions such as Huimin, sharing borrowers’ information. This information was displayed on the Yinongdai website to attract lenders to provide funds from 100 yuan (US$15.8) and up.
Started in July 2011, the Yinongdai platform has helped Huimin generate 2.99 million yuan (US$473,919) in loans to 644 rural clients, according to data provided by Huimin’s client manager Fan Wencheng.
“Money collected from the P2P website will be distributed to our clients,” Fan said. “It could help solve financing problems, which is a common trouble to China’s poverty-relief micro loan institutions like us, since we are not allowed to take deposits directly.”
Bai Chengyu, secretary general of the China Association of Micro-finance, said he believed this was an effective tool to develop micro-financing in China.
That is, local micro loan institutions provide creditable clients to P2P platforms, which guarantee authenticity of their information and help online lenders to distinguish and choose borrowers. The platforms are responsible for attracting online lenders with updated borrowers’ repayment status. What’s more, lenders could get a sense of satisfaction through helping specific clients with detailed information and tracking his or her efforts to shake off poverty.