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.
Bangladesh has largely succeeded in providing access to basic sanitation. Using latrines in rural communities is now no longer seen as a luxury reserved for upper-income households, but a necessity at all levels of society.
Shahana Akhter spends her days on her little red scooter looking for small businesses. She works in BRAC’s microfinance programme, and has spent seven years distributing loans and collecting repayments to enable all types of entrepreneurship to expand.
The capability to borrow money when needed, whether for short-term or long-term purposes, is a convenience valued by everyone. Access to credit is not only helpful for investing in enterprises, or managing crises, but it also provides the opportunity to access better standards of living.
Khaled considers his work as the ultimate adventure, with a simple philosophy – always work for the greater good of the people around you. BRAC was his first job, and three decades have flown by since.
Husnaara ran to her house smiling from ear to ear as if she could not get any happier. At that point nothing seemed impossible; she could become a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer, go to a good university. She could not wait to give her father the news about her Secondary School Certificate results and assure him that his daughter would one day be able to provide for them.
As a non-profit dedicated to poverty reduction, client welfare has been central to BRAC’s mission since its inception in 1972. In Bangladesh in general, almost all microfinance institutions are non-profits, and so microfinance has always been seen as a tool for alleviating poverty in the country.
The integration of mobile money into microfinance operations is one of the most exciting yet challenging prospects facing microfinance providers today. Mobile money presents a fast, cost-efficient and flexible alternative delivery channel through which money can be transferred, loans can be repaid and savings can be deposited.
You’d be forgiven for thinking microfinance has gone wildly out of fashion. The “development caravan”—defined as the wagon train of poverty interventions that excite donors—has pulled away from micro-lending, drawn to more powerful things like BRAC-style graduation programmes (which aim to “graduate” people from extreme poverty into a sustainable livelihood) and bKash-like mobile money, according to recent coverage in The Economist.