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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Microcredit alone may not transform many people’s lives. But it can be a part of the equation that does. Poverty is a multi-dimensional issue that requires a multi-dimensional approach. Why then do impact studies on microcredit search for transformative effects of what is essentially a limited intervention?
Last Thursday, the 2015 Gates letter identified mobile money as a transformative innovation for the next 15 years, driving faster improvement of the lives of people in poor countries than has ever been seen.
BRAC Microfinance has grown to become one of the largest providers of financial services for the poor. It currently serves 4.4 million clients spread across the country. And this includes one of the most hard-to-reach areas – the chars.
BRAC understands the significance of cultural context as well as the dangers of imposing any foreign solutions disregarding local reality. Community organisation and mobilisation and understanding the local context has been central to BRAC’s development work. This hasn’t been an exception for BRAC's latest international undertaking in Myanmar. We now have two entities there, namely BRAC Myanmar and BRAC Myanmar Microfinance Company Limited, a for profit organisation. With three branch offices and over 1,000 microfinance borrowers, we are proud to celebrate one year of operating in Myanmar this October.
Heart disease is often regarded as a problem that a person is born with, or something that eventually happens in older adults. Non-modifiable risk factors like advancing age and family history are not the only reasons for heart disease. In fact, 80 per cent of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease could be avoided if modifiable risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and raised lipids are addressed.