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Access to finance – be that credit, or savings, is a universal need. People living in poverty are disproportionately excluded from the formal financial system. Access to finance is particularly difficult for women in Bangladesh with 64% of women left out of formal financial services.
Microfinance helps people excluded from the formal banking system to access a suite of financial services. It facilitates families like China’s to build assets, smooth consumption, and reduce vulnerability to shocks such as health emergencies or natural disasters. It also provides an alternative to high interest loans from informal lenders or harmful coping mechanisms such as selling productive assets.
China Akhter, 32 years
“My family and I have always relied on microfinance to grow our businesses in my hometown in Joypara.
I was nervous when I took out my first loan. I was only 27, and had never managed finances on my own. I bought two cows with that loan, and slowly built a small dairy farm. It took me five years. I was able to transform not only my financial standing but also that of people around me. I sent my husband abroad, first as a construction worker in Saudi Arabia, and then to Oman. I also helped my brother go abroad.
We just bought the land adjacent to where we live, and we are planning on going into full-scale vegetable farming, along with expanding the dairy farm. My son is in school. Shahriar will soon be sitting for his first national board exams, after which he wants to join a sports camp. His dream is to play for the national cricket team. He plays really well. People praise his skill as a fast bowler and they are confident that he could play for the national youth team.
I know my son will one day move out of our hometown. I try not to feel sad about it. For now, taking care of my aging father is a full-time job. He has written over a hundred folk songs in his younger days and now spends his time bringing them to tune. His new songs amuse us all.”