The Chinese Association of Microfinance (CAM) held a conference on 31 October – 1 November 2013. Learning Without Borders was invited to present the concept of Microfinance 3.0 to an audience of Microfinance companies, including Peer-to-Peer lending companies. The only other non-Chinese organisation that was present was Zopa, one of the UK’s largest Peer-to-Peer platforms.
We were excited and honoured to attend and speak at this inspiring event. The first day was filled with awards and recognition of the great work being done by entrepreneurs owning small businesses in China. Microfinance organisations that were making a difference were also presented with awards for their achievement and contribution. On the first day, we were particularly touched by the presentation from the Microfinance organiser of a rural farming area. She shared about how she got farmers to work together, pool their resources, and was able to make the most of the familiar relationships to mitigate risk and provide impeccable service. She shared how the payback rate was extremely high; in one instance, when a family’s breadwinner died in a car crash, the organisation forgave a 30,000RMB(~£3000) loan and provided the family with 2000RMB(~£200) per annum to help them get back on their feet. In contrast, they were particularly critical to defaulters that did not show good will. She passionately told us how her organisation was helping China keep ahold of its natural roots and provide an avenue for environmental conservation that will serve generations to come.
On the second day, Dr. Phyllis and Gabriel presented at the conference, supported by Wei Wu for translating. We shared how Microfinance 3.0 is the natural evolution of Microfinance – moving from “pushing” standard services to providing comprehensive and collaborative solutions to serve customers. We highlighted the “Banana Skins” of Microfinance – the key issues and challenges that organisations around the world are facing. We explained that the focus of Microfinance 3.0 is to provide resources that help the small & medium-sized business of China be built to last. To this end, the Microfinance organisations – and in particular Peer-to-Peer lending platforms – need to strive to engage their customers and solicit their feedback. The organisations that serve their customers best will thrive in the rapid growth and change that is ahead for this industry.
Learning Without Borders provides a Management in Action (MAP) programme to support Peer-to-Peer and other Microfinance organisations to become Microfinance 3.0. Our flagship client in China, Shanghai Yonsen Financial Group (Xinxindai.com) has been engaged in the programme and is making great progress toward becoming a Microfinance 3.0 organisation. We believe they have the leadership ability and are honoured to be their trusted advisors to help achieve this goal. We were approached after our talk from several organisations wanting to find out more about how we make this happen.
The balance of the day consisted of fantastic presentations by Peer-to-Peer companies about the risks, challenges and future of the industry. We were continually impressed by the level of insight and clear commitment to the industry’s success. The conference opened our mind to how fast-paced the Peer-to-Peer lending industry is moving in China – and the incredible steps that each company is taking to adapt in this dynamic environment. Each organisation is achieving great results – and our goal is do help as many as we can to ensure that those results are sustained for the future.