Bangladesh’s Entry Into Impact Investment
Monday, February 23, 2015
Growing up as a daughter of a high ranking civil servant in Bangladesh, I have distinct memories of my father’s trip to Paris every year in the 1980s. To me it was exciting — Papa was seeing Paris — the most romantic city in the world. To him it was a dreaded trip because it was Donor Consortium that brought him to France to beg for donor money for Bangladesh.
I remember my father sadly referring to himself as the ’official beggar of the country’. His begging would put in place the much needed public sector goods and services such as food, health care, medicine and education for millions. No matter how good the ultimate goal of the ’begging’ was, the process was demeaning and unsustainable. It went on the same way year after year.
Fast forward 30 years later, some of the good that did come out of the donor money is the creation of multiple infrastructures by the government and non-government bodies in Bangladesh that gave rise to parallel economies along with the traditional private/export sector such as microcredit, village health programme, education and healthcare for the poor.
Bangladesh’s enabling regulatory environment has resulted in a vibrant development landscape with development giants like BRAC, Grameen Bank, ASA as well as over 26,000 smaller NGOs and 600 microfinance institutions. The unprecedented efforts of these institutions to galvanise the country’s development agenda have put Bangladesh on track to achieve five of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
According to the 2013 report by the Social Progress Imperative (SPI), Bangladesh produced another ’development surprise’ in the Saarc region, ranking 99 among 132 countries — a relatively strong performance when compared with Nepal (101), India (102) and Pakistan (124).
The efforts, launched by the NGOs and microfinance institutions, may have had their birth with the assistance of donor funding but there is an increasing awareness that there is, without doubt, more to be achieved in terms of responsible, equitable growth and sustainable impact for Bangladesh by Bangladeshis.