January 7, 2016

Credit shield insurance – Piloting microinsurance products in Bangladesh

“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.”
November 12, 2015

FI2020 week in retrospect: Do we need microfinance and why?

Imagine a world where there is no access to financial services. You cannot save, which means you cannot set aside money for the future. You cannot access a loan, which means you are shut off from a limitless number of opportunities, including investing in an enterprise, purchasing a home or land, or maintaining household expenses when cash is tight. You don’t have insurance or any kind of buffer against shocks, such as medical emergencies in the family, a sudden loss of a job, or natural disasters. Would you be able to manage?
October 21, 2015

Banking the poor

Stuart Rutherford is an expert in financial services for the poor, and the author of ‘The Poor and Their Money’. He founded SafeSave in 1996, to provide basic banking services in the slums of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. Nearly two decades on SafeSave serves 19,000 clients, helping them afford everyday expenses and budget for bigger life events.
October 4, 2015

Global goals: A girl from Uganda has made it her mission to change lives

As world leaders shepherd in a new era of international development with the UN's Global Goals, Basemera, a young girl in rural Uganda dreams about her future and that of her friends and family.
September 30, 2015

Tea and argument in Yangon

By the time we reached Rangoon Tea House – a fabled place mentioned in many travel literature- it was raining hard. The country representative of BRAC in Myanmar was taking me out to a legendary destination. We met his friends at a table with a fan whirring above with the blades shaped like palm leaves. Ancient black and white movies were projected on the wall with no sound; the silent movies contrasted with the bantering voices in the large room as people chatted and laughed.
September 15, 2015

Five ways to get frontline staff excited about mobile money

Bangladesh is a fast-growing mobile money market. With bKash, the second-largest mobile money provider in the world, industry growth in the country has reached impressive heights. Between January 2013 and February of this year, the number of mobile money clients in Bangladesh increased five-fold to 25 million users, with the number of daily transactions increasing from 10 million to 77 million.
August 2, 2015

Financial inclusion of people with disabilities – Is access the biggest barrier?

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.
July 5, 2015

From paddy fields to tropical islands – Microfinance moves away from its traditional roots

Jannat is not your typical microfinance client. Like an increasing number of BRAC’s microfinance clients, she is not a member of a women-only savings and borrowing group, and did not take a loan to set up a micro-enterprise. Instead, her and her husband are part of new sphere of microfinance clients that is starting to catch on - migrant workers.
June 25, 2015

6 questions for microfinance’s biggest ‘haters’: Why it’s time for the sector to shake off its critics

This blog was originally posted on 59 minutes of development and  Next Billion. Since January, when six randomised control trials were published 'definitively' stating that microcredit is not a viable poverty alleviation tool, microfinance has been taking a lot of heat in the media. One recent article went so far as to compare it to "a zombie that refuses to die." What's kind of funny is that the researchers themselves weren't quite so negative, not that anyone will take the time to read a massive research document. Here's a line I liked.
June 4, 2015

Ultra poor graduation: The strongest case so far for why financial services must be a part of the solution to extreme poverty

This month, the results from six randomised control trials (RCTs), published in Science magazine highlighted a model of development that is an adaptable and exportable solution able to raise households from the worst forms of destitution and put them onto a pathway of self-reliance. The graduation approach – financial services integrated within a broader set of wrap-around services – is gaining steady recognition for its astonishing ability to transform the lives of the poorest.
April 29, 2015

Give the youth some credit – 3 takeaways from BRAC’s experience with youth microfinance

Violet is 21 years old, married and a mother of two. She is also the owner of a steelworks business where her husband is one of her employees. When she speaks of expanding her business, her voice is full of confidence and hope, undeterred when others make jokes about how she manages her husband.
March 1, 2015

Customer service at BRAC: Empowering women through empowered women

Even when introducing herself, Babita’s enthusiasm is contagious. “Maybe you think that you can’t change how you manage your money. It’s too hard. Well, I used to think that I could never get up in front of a group of people and give a presentation. But here I am. BRAC taught me how. So if I can do this, then you can do anything.”