It’s sad to write about a startup’s closing down, especially when the startup is founded by friends. I got the email from Casey Wilson, Cofounder and CEO of Wokai, an online micro-finance platform helping micro-entrepreneurs living under the poverty line in China. P2P lending model is still hard to survive in China as this country is still lacking of a mature credit system. (I am surprised that Wokai’s able to have 98% repayment rate, though).

The email from Casey is followed. Can you help?

Dear Wokai Contributors,

We regret to tell you that we are starting the process of winding down Wokai and concluding operations.

Wokai has been actively searching for a new CEO to take the organization to the next level in China. However, as of our application deadline, no clear candidate came to the fore. In addition, we have met unexpected funding road blocks, which have left us without the reserves necessary to extend the search further.

Considering Wokai’s current situation, our Board of Directors has unanimously decided to take the resources that we currently have and wind down Wokai’s operations. This approach will ensure that all of the resources that we have built up are used to continue our mission of growing microfinance in China.

Over the last 5 years since starting Wokai and 3.5 years since the launch of our website, our team and global supporter community has raised over a half a million dollars in loan capital for micro-entrepreneurs living under the poverty line in China. We’ve worked together to fund over 1,500 micro-loans to 961 borrowers, all at an over 98% on-time repayment rate. When you take into account the families of our micro-entrepreneurs, these funds have supported over 4,000 people to start the process of moving out of poverty. Not only have we directly impacted the lives of these individuals, but our over 30 major media features in the likes of CNN, Bloomberg, MSNBC, Phoenix TV, and China Newsweek and our global volunteer community of over 300 volunteers in 20 cities around the world has brought our cause of growing microfinance in China onto the global radar.

Moving forward, our Field Partners have committed to use the loan capital contributed to date to provide a continuous cycle of new loans to micro-entreprenuers in China’s rural Sichuan and Inner Mongolia Provinces. With this commitment, over the next ten years, over 9,000 micro-entrepreneurs should have the opportunity to lift themselves, their families, and communities out of poverty.

I cannot thank you enough for all of your support. Even as Wokai winds down, the legacy that we’ve built together will continue on, empowering a generation of micro-entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams and laying the groundwork for the future growth of microfinance in China.

Sincerely,

Casey Wilson
Co-founder & CEO, Wokai