Guang Xin Wu, The Baker

Xin Wu’s day starts at 4:30 a.m. She cycles to her small bakery and spends the morning cooking pancakes and buns, which she then delivers on her bike to various locations at lunchtime, including a local mall, construction sites, and a school. After lunch, she cooks again until 7:30 p.m., and then she closes up shop and cleans until 9 p.m. It’s a long workday, but she and her husband do whatever they have to do to support themselves as well as their brother-in-law and son, who is in college.

Before taking a loan from Accion Microcredit China, Xin Wu had to find time in her busy day to purchase ingredients for the next day. Now, she buys supplies every few days and has more time to work. As a result, her profits have soared. She even plans to expand her bakery in the future, telling us confidently that she’ll start that project next year. “I was determined to be my own boss because it gives me flexibility,” she says. “We can send the message globally that you can live off of your own hand.”