Further international recognition for microfinance programme

Monday, June 30, 2008

MICROCREDIT is undoubtedly the number one image builder for Bangladesh. It has earned the most coveted Nobel (peace) prize for the initiator Dr Muhmmad Yunus and his Grameem Bank. It has earned many other international applauds for the operators, including the recent “Banking at the Bottom of the Pyramid” prize jointly awarded by the Financial Times of London and the International Investment Institute (IFC) to ASA. Mayor of London Boris Johnson formally announced the prize on June 3 selecting the Bangladesh institution from among 129 institutions of 54 countries.

Although a new conception in world economy and development programme, micro credit is gradually gaining a greater importance there. It is considered as a better way to reduce economic discrimination for world peace and security. This new Bangladesh brand is being included in development programmes of various countries in alleviating poverty across the world.

The jury deciding the “Banking at the Bottom of the Pyramid” prize opined that ASA’s microcredit model being the most cost effective could be successfully followed in many countries within the shortest possible time. Organisers of the prize maintain that it has been introduced to extend recognition to the institutions working with a motive to alleviate poverty and observed that in their estimation ASA topped the institutions trying with finance facilities to help people at the lowest rung of the society to overcome their problems.

At present about 100 crore people are living below poverty line with income less than 2 dollars a day. ASA is believed to be one of the institutions successfully reaching qualitative and flexible financial service to these people. It is serving about 70 lakh people in the country with its sustainable multi-mode microcredit model which includes different credits for men and women, education credit, agri business credit, small trader credit, small entrepreneur credit, interest free disaster rehabilitation credit and life insurance. Besides, the credit receiving members can obtain a one time financial aid for treatment of any acute disease.

The organisation’s microcredit programme has already crossed the national boundaries. By now ASA has directly initiated microcredit programme in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Nigeria and Ghana, and with a view to expanding the service has established ASA International Holding Company in joint collaboration with some reputed investing institutions of the world. Registered in Mauritius of Africa this company is planning to cover 50-60 lakh people of 10-12 countries, besides Bangladesh, under micro credit service investing 8-9crore taka.

Through this huge programme this Bangladesh NGO is going to emerge in the international development arena with a bang. Its International Holding will create employment abroad for quite a considerable number of Bangladeshi skilled workers. The company is being treated as second generation institution for micro credit. Experts in the field think this company would initiate new chapter of potentials for the non-government sector of Bangladesh in the international arena.

The Financial Times-IFC prize is the newest addition to its continuity of success and a special recognition for Bangladesh’s micro credit programme. ASA was adjudged as top micro credit institution in world in the Forbes Magazine survey in 2007. In 2005 Washington based Micro Finance Information Exchange (MIX) recognised it as world’s best micro finance institution.

It may be recalled in this connection that with a view to raising the image of the country in international arena, the erstwhile government engaged some foreign newspapers and journalists. A few positive news also came out in some foreign journals including the Time magazine. But more negative news about Bangladesh coincided in the foreign media. As such that initiative of the government was widely criticised. It’s true you cannot build image of the country by hiring media men. On the other hand, over the past years a Bangladeshi NGO’s activities could be able to attract attention of some world renowned journals. They have been recognising its activities on their own and publicising world over. It’s also true, virtues like integrity and dedication pay off in the long run.

Source: Daily Star (link opens in a new window)