On October 26th, 2007, the Third “China Banking Association (Citigroup) Micro-Entrepreneurship” Award Ceremony took place at the Beijing Media Center. Xu QiLian, a microfinance customer of ARDY’s ZhouHe Branch, received second-place for the agricultural category of “2007 China Banking Association (Citigroup) Micro-Entrepreneurship” Award.
Striving for Development to Walk Towards a Wealthier Future
(an entry about Xu QiLian, a microfinance customer at ZhouHe Branch of ARDY)
Xu QiLian lives in Liangshan Village of ZhouHe Town in Yilong County. He is a 57-years-old Han descendent with a high school degree. His family of four includes him, his wife, his son, and his daughter.
His son named Xu ShuangHu was admitted to Hunan Institute of Animal Farming in Xiangtan City in 2003. His daughter, Xu ShuangHua, entered the LeShan University of Tourism in Sichuan County in 2004. The family relied on their 1.7 acres of land for their livelihood. Yet, their land was largely barren. With the high taxes and natural disasters effects, no matter how hard they tilled the land, they could only make enough to feed themselves. Their financial problems were difficult to solve.
In 1998, at a point when Xu QiLian was anxiously looking for a solution, the ZhouHe Branch from Association for Rural Development in Yilong (ARDY) came to their village for an outreach activity. Xu QiLian heard the staff members from ZhouHe Branch announced, “Cultivating the land with only grain is not enough. You must think of ways to utilize the land in multiple ways, such as towards cash crops and aquaculture.”
Xu QiLian began to think and immediately discussed with his wife, Deng ShuLan. “Everyday we grow grain that does not sell for enough money. Why don’t we take this land and grow animal feed? We can raise some pigs instead?”
His wife replied, “Where are going to get the money to buy pigs? One pig costs at least 350 RMB! We can barely afford salt and oil. You are counting chickens before they hatch.” His wife not only did not support him but also laughed at him.
Xu QiLian got angry and did not listen to his wife. He went to the staff members of ZhouHe Branch and asked for a loan of 1000 RMB to buy female pigs. At that time borrowers were required to have small group insurance so Xu QiLian participated in many group conferences. Unfortunately, nothing worked out because his family was too poor. He did not have the money to return payments every 10 days. No wonder he did not have anyone who wanted to join him. Xu QiLian grew sad but also became motivated to change himself and challenge fate. “What is wrong with being poor? I believe that I can create my own business for all of you to see!”
He inquired everywhere and managed to find a farmers’ organization in Xinhua Village. The director of that center happened to be his old classmate, Xu Qiyou. Xu QiLian held hope when he went to the center and spoke to his classmate and the staff members about his ideas and dreams. They accepted his proposal and supported him. The ZhouHe branch also agreed to let him participate in this center.
March 1998, Xu QiLian borrowed 1000 RMB from ARDY and bought two pigs. Meanwhile, he relied on living frugally and doing miscellaneous work for others to make his repayments. In addition, he often asked others about pig farming and attended trainings provided by the association. His hard work did not go to waste. By the second year, he had a business running and owned 20 fat pigs by the year’s end. His income was 10,000 RMB. Because of him, 18 households also began pig farms. This year he built a 0.5 acre area for 20 small centers for aquaculture. He also sold 50 pigs, earning him 20,000 RMB.
Unfortunately, in the year of 2000, his pigs became unmarketable because of the swine flu. His pig farm business ended.
Xu QiLian soon found another business idea. He knew that the location of the village created a lack of water supply for the farmers and that the small water pumps did not provide enough water. In April 2001, he borrowed another 3000 RMB to buy back a water pumping system to solve the water scarcity and irrigation problems. The next year he borrowed another 5000 RMB to buy a 24-horsepower diesel engine. In one year of pumping diesel oil, he earned 2300 RMB. He also provided free water pumping to five households, receiving recognition from the town, the government, and the association.
July 2004, Xu QiLian saw how home-building was very popular (in addition, the old home of Zhu De was also under construction) and required a lot of sand and stones. He discussed with his wife about buying a big sand boat to solve the demand for sand. His wife rejected his idea on the spot, saying a boat was not cheap and the village river did not belong to them. Once again, Xu QiLian did not listen to his wife and went to the home of Xu HongJin, the village party branch secretary. Xu QiLian explained his plan, which Secretary Xu agreed on immediately with a one-year contract to gather sand. Secretary Xu was happy that the problem with the lack of sand could be solved. With a 9000 RMB loan from ARDY and his own 20,000 RMB, Xu QiLian bought back a ship weighing 10 tons from Chengdu. In the beginning of September, he began his business. He hired four workers and earned 150 RMB per day. In one year, he earned 26,000 RMB after subtracting out the workers’ wages and business costs.
Last year (2008), he opened a stone quarry where he gave out 21 jobs.