When Wenzhou Minshang Bank opened its doors in March 2015, it became the first private bank in China under a new, government-approved pilot program. The move signals an effort to ease restrictions on the country's state-controlled banking industry--but for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Wenzhou, it means much more than that. Critics have long decried the fact that China's large, state-owned banks tend to grant loans to other large, state-run companies, making it difficult for SMEs to receive financing. In Wenzhou, where there are more than 300,000 SMEs, private lending has popped up as a financing solution--but that has led to its own problems, with a 2011 credit crunch forcing a number of local businesses into bankruptcy. Wenzhou Minshang Bank has stated that its goal is to offer financing services specifically to SMEs, self-employed individuals, and others in the local community--an ambition that has many hoping the area will become more economically stable. On its opening day, the bank issued its first loan in the amount of $48,289 to Jiangda Electronic Co., a small producer of electronics and aluminum foil. And on a larger scale, analysts say that the Wenzhou Minshang Bank, along with the four other private banks in the pilot program, could help inspire reform in the rest of Chinas banking industry.