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Cablegate: Rural Finance Case Study: Changjiang County Hainan Province

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RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0937 2340855
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220855Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6384
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000937

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON ECIN PGOV CH
SUBJECT: Rural Finance Case Study: Changjiang County Hainan Province


1. (U) SUMMARY: In Changjiang County, Hainan Province, a local
branch of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA)
delivers small loans to assist poor farmers. The branch has
experienced non-repayment problems rooted in inadequately trained
staff and clients accustomed to government handouts. It has made
training its staff and better education for its clients a top
priority. END SUMMARY.

The Road to Prosperity Bypasses Some Villagers
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) During a recent visit to Bawangling, Changjiang County, in
Hainan Province; Conoff met Chen Jinli, the Director of the local
microfinance branch of CFPA. A government affiliated non-profit
organization, CFPA claims to be China's largest NGO. It began its
microfinance operations in 1996. The Changjiang branch opened in
September 2006 and currently supports a staff of four, including a
summer intern from Mercy Corps.

3. (SBU) The branch serves more than 300 clients, most of whom are
farmers. Chen told us that in towns like Qicha, which have cleared
land and are close to refineries, farmers plant and harvest sugar
cane several times a year, which gives them a somewhat regular
income. But in townships like Wangxia, where the road is too far
away to transport sugar cane to the refinery, villagers receive a
monthly payment of 60RMB per person from the government. They make
ends meet by growing the latex plant which can yield a harvest every
7 years, raising poultry and pigs, making wine, and increasingly,
migrating to cities to work.

Legacy of Handouts Problematic
------------------------------

4. (SBU) The CFPA branch in this rural Hainan area faces the
challenge of educating clients on the condition of repayment
following years of government handouts. In the past, the Rural
Credit Cooperatives here aided rural minority groups with subsidies
of rice and cash. These subsidies and the current government
payments have created a misconception of microfinance loans as yet
another government giveaway. Branch Director Chen has had to
dedicate substantial time and resources to educating local people on
the need to repay the loans.

Past Inadequate Staff Training Haunts the Present
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Not only was the handout mentality the mindset of some
clients, but it was also a problem for some former staff who did not
understand microfinance. Chen told us that his predecessor was not
adequately screened and trained, and didn't really understand the
need to prepare and educate clients before issuing loans. As a
result, there is one village in the branch's portfolio with 100
percent rate of non-repayment. Once non-payment reached critical
mass, no one in the village repaid. This experience has contributed
to Changjiang branch's overall non-repayment rate of twenty percent,
in contrast to the much lower global average for microfinance
institutions of four percent. To address this problem, Chen and
some staff members attend week-long training sessions and periodic
workshops in Beijing, where they network and learn best practices
from more experienced microfinance institutions in China and
international microfinance practitioners.


Local Loan Officers Face Special Challenges
-------------------------------------------
6. (SBU) In this area where the local language can be a
communication barrier, several loan officers have been hired
locally. One such loan officer described the difficult
circumstances he faces as a member of the local community. He must
impartially scrutinize his client's ability to repay. If he
approves a loan, he is praised; but if he denies the loan, the
client may blame him personally. He says that in order to maintain
professionalism he has had to distance himself from the people with
whom he once socialized.

JACOBSEN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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