Once a fortnight in a small village near the city of Chifeng in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, local women get together to read the latest book donated by the staff of a micro-credit project.
"The idea is to give books to the women when we collect their loan repayments," Huo Guilin, director of the Zhaowuda Women's Sustainable Development Association, told China Daily yesterday.
Over the past 10 years, the NGO has handed out about 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) in loans to the women of Chifeng. More recently, it began giving out free books on agricultural technology, health and education.
"Greater knowledge means the women will make better use of their loans and pay them back more quickly," Huo said.
The books and credit idea is one of 115 innovative schemes on show today at the China Development Marketplace exhibition at the China International Trade Center in Beijing.
David Dollar, China country director for the World Bank, the event's organizer, said: "The show brings grassroots organizations with good ideas together with corporations, affluent individuals and foundations that can provide funding."
Tan Weiping, deputy director of the international cooperation department of the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation, said: "The ideas are good. The groups know their strengths, and their work is in accordance with the country's polices."
The number of creative projects, compared with the previous exhibition in 2006, reflects the huge development of China's NGOs over recent years, he said.
"The government continues to encourage the development of grassroots NGOs, which are cost-efficient and know the local conditions," he said.
"They can help us to target poor and vulnerable groups, and make more effective use of resources for poverty reduction in China."
More policies and regulations still need to be laid out for the development of NGOs in China, however, which are still in their infancy, Tan said.
Between 45 and 50 of the projects on show in Beijing will receive funding from the China Development Marketplace.
Source: China Daily