Zhi Yun Fu, China
Zhi’s duty to help her family becomes her chance to realize her own dream.
Zhi Yun Fu was first introduced to the idea of microfinance five years ago by an Association for Rural Development of Poor Areas in Sichuan (ARDPAS) loan officer who stopped by her family’s home. Her family earned 3,000rmb (US$439) a year growing fruit trees, chili peppers, and peanuts. Zhi’s father Chao wanted to expand their farm, so he took out a 1,000rmb (US$146) loan to buy to piglets for breeding. Because pork prices were on the rise, the family was able to double their income in three years. They were able to pay back their initial loan as well as a second one.
Chao wanted to take out a third loan to invest in three additional pigs, but at 61, he’d surpassed ARDPAS’ client age limit. Still determined, Chao suggested Zhi apply for the loan on the family’s behalf. Zhi was happy to oblige her father, but she had entrepreneurial dreams of her own. She had been an apprentice with a furniture maker in another village and saw opportunity to make money selling the pieces she made. Zhi ended up taking out the loan, but asked for additional money to start the furniture business with her husband.
In 2008, over half the family’s income came from Zhi’s sales. The handmade wooden pieces, which include chairs, tables, and farming tools, are sold throughout the neighboring villages. She aspires to take the furniture to the largest township about one hour away for wholesale sale. Zhi is grateful for her success and is happy that she and her family now have money to travel outside Sichuan, something they hadn’t done before. Her greatest hope now however, with improving economic conditions, is for her one-year old daughter. “I hope that with the money our family saves, we can send her outside of Sichuan. Go to a good college, learn a good skill besides farming and see the world.”
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