By AMAKA ABAYOMI, with agency report
ACCION International, parent company of Accion Nigeria and a pioneer in global microfinance, has signed an agreement with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group focused exclusively on the private sector, in which IFC will invest approximately $1 million in ACCION’s Chinese affiliate, ACCION Microfinance China (AMC).

The investment will enable ACCION to strengthen the operations of AMC, which it launched in December 2009 in Chifeng Prefecture, Inner Mongolia, to deliver financial services to the region’s working poor. IFC’s investment of Chinese RMB 7 million represents an 18.9 per cent equity interest in AMC.

In connection with its investment, IFC previously signed a cooperation agreement with ACCION to provide up to $1 million to finance a three-year technical assistance program for AMC.

“IFC has been a valuable ACCION partner in many of our projects around the world,” said Michael Schlein, president and CEO of ACCION.

“We’re pleased and honored to have its engagement and support as we continue to help create a microfinance industry in China, where ACCION is one of only a handful of foreign-owned organizations involved in the field.”

For Hyun-Chan Cho, IFC country manager for China and Mongolia, “we are committed to working with ACCION to help AMC expand access to finance for small businesses in Inner Mongolia and support the sustainable development of one of the least developed regions in China.

“With our financing and advice, AMC is well positioned to become a leading microfinance institution in Inner Mongolia, benefiting thousands of small entrepreneurs.”

ACCION established AMC to provide previously underserved communities of Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, with access to quality financial services.  It offers financial solutions to its clients in a timely and responsible manner, adapting as needed ACCION’s expertise in various lending methodologies.

In Inner Mongolia, 40 per cent 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.

AMC’s goal is 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 RMB 1,000 ($150).

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