Over the last forty years BRAC have been dramatically changing people’s lives in Bangladesh and more recently across the world. It is through working hand-in-hand with our partners that has made it possible to ‘reach scale’ and create opportunities for more and more people to move out of poverty.
We face tremendous problems keeping girls in school as they transition through adolescence. In Sierra Leone, 30 per cent of reported rapes take place in the school environment, and a recent ruling banned ‘visibly pregnant’ girls from school. When the school itself becomes a hostile setting, it should come as no surprise that dropout rates shoot up.
Originally posted on the Center for Financial Inclusion Blog. “I am not sure if I can repay more loans, and I don’t want to be overburdened by debt.” That was how Noyon, a small grocery shop owner with a physical disability, replied when BRAC asked whether he would like to take a loan to expand his business. This is a common response we hear from clients with disabilities when they’re offered credit products. Many prefer to avoid taking loans unless absolutely necessary.
Over the past decade Bangladesh has been experiencing urbanisation at an unprecedented speed and scale. For Bangladesh, urbanisation has been identified as a leading engine of growth with the urban sector already contributing to more than 60 per cent of the GDP. On the downside, like in many other developing countries, this rapid urbanisation is also accompanied by increasing urban poverty and inequality.
Yet like any ambitious set of targets, not all the MDGs were fully met by many countries. Rather the goals worked as a framework upon which they could build their development policies and translate the policies into action. Let’s focus on one tiny target of a goal, yet one whose impact on the coming generations is most persisting: undernutrition. Undernutrition, a form of malnutrition, is a deficiency of calories of one or more essential nutrients. Two of the most used indicators to measure undernutrition are underweight and stunting.
For Shahina, a poor woman living in the remote rural district of Noakhali in southern Bangladesh, getting cash used to be a long ordeal. Since she didn’t have a mobile wallet, Shahina used to have to travel three kilometres to visit the local bKash agent to collect remittances sent by her husband and two sons, who were working in the city. Sometimes she was unable to make the trip without someone to watch her children. The roads are often impassable after rains and the market is far away. And often the agent charges informal ‘service fees’ before dispensing her cash.
The millennium development goals (MDG) aspired to improve the lives of people in the developing world. There is a decline in the percentage of world’s population living in extreme poverty, but still a lot of the poor are living in middle income countries. There are more poor people living in India and in some of the Middle Eastern countries than in the whole of Africa. This scenario is also likely to evolve over the coming decade. Subsequently, we may see an entirely different world by the end of 2030.
“I can’t thank BRAC enough for standing beside me when I needed help the most,” Rahela, 24, a microfinance borrower and recipient of BRAC’s credit shield insurance, tells us. She borrowed USD 385 in January 2015 to invest in a small clothing business. Recalling her experience, she reveals, “My husband was not interested initially in having a joint insurance policy, but when the customer service assistant explained it in detail, we decided that we should pay the small premium.”
It has been a few days since Dr Mahabub Hossain has left us. As more and more people are remembering him, it is clear what a profound impact he had on those he crossed paths with. As a leader, Dr Mahabub’s contribution was immense in BRAC as well.