Ant Credit, a company affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced today that it will set up a financing program for female entrepreneurs in China with a 500 million RMB ($80 million) loan from International Finance Corp (IFC).
The loan program can potentially boost the amount of borrowers who use Ant Financial’s services. Ant Credit provides small online loans and says many of its current clients are women who sell products on Alibaba marketplaces Taobao and Tmall. It claims that half of businesses owned by women on those sites are already available for loans.
Ant Credit’s new program, which it calls the “first Internet-based gender-finance program in China” is a partnership between Ant Financial Services Group, which runs Ant Credit; IFC; and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative, an entrepreneurship program for women in emerging markets.
Last year, IFC loaned one billion RMB ($160 million) to Ant Credit to finance Chinese businesses.
Unlike traditional banks, Ant Credit evaluates potential borrowers using data based on transactions they have already performed online. This makes it easier for small businesses to borrow funds even if they don’t have collateral.
Ant Financial was formerly called Alipay before changing its name last October. Its services include Alipay, China’s largest mobile payments service, online investment platform Yu’e Bao, and a new private bank that received regulatory approval last year that will compete with an online bank run by Alibaba-rival Tencent.
The company now known as Ant Financial was spun out from Alibaba Group in 2011. Ant Financial was not included as part of the company listed during Alibaba’s record-breaking initial public offering, but its executives include Alibaba founder Jack Ma and it maintains a close relationship with its parent company.