For more micro-credit programmes


Md. Mustafa Kamal


There is no dearth of zeal and efforts in the poverty alleviation sector and rural development in Bangladesh. In recent times, many government and non-government organisations are found giving renewed emphasis on poverty alleviation activities. Practically poverty alleviation efforts are a very hard and troublesome job. Among those involved in this process, the NGOs especially the micro-credit programme implementing organisations, are playing an effective role in this respect. Their efforts are internationally acknowledged through holding the world micro-credit summits.Among other countries of the world, Bangladesh deserves the best credit for its contribution to the field of poverty alleviation. The country has already earned a wide reputation as the nursing land of micro-credit. About a half of the total population of the country are poverty-affected. As the numbers of poor people in this land are uncountable, so the numbers of poverty reducing organisations are also many. According to a CDF (Credit and Development Forum) statistics, the number of micro-finance NGOs in the country is 495 (enlisted with CDF). Up to December 98 these NGOs have extended credit to about 7.86 million poor people. The amount they disbursed is about Tk 66,565.50 million. But this volume of the disbursed loan and the numbers of loanees are not sufficient with respect to the vast poor population of the country. To make the poverty alleviation initiative effective and fruitful more micro-credit organisations are needed which can include more people in the credit programmes and disburse more amounts to them.Among the micro-credit NGOs, there are only 20 big organisations enlisted with the Credit and Development Forum. ASA is one of these big organisations. Presence of more big NGOs as mentioned above is needed for expansion of poverty alleviation activities throughout the country so that majority of the poor can avail the facilities of credit to reduce their poverty. In this respect, the micro-finance NGO ASA can be an instance to other similar organisations. As a successful organisation ASA possesses some special features of its own. In consequence of this ASA has become a big development organisation within a short span of time. It has been playing an important role and thus contributing much to the poverty alleviation sector.ASA was established in 1978, but started credit programme from 1991. Basically the organisation has been expanding very rapidly since 1992. In June 1993 the number of ASA unit offices was only 163, in June 1999 the number increased to a great extent and rose to 800. At present ASA has extended its activities to 61 districts throughout the country. Within a few years the organisation took a large shape. At present, that is, in June 1999 the number of poor people who have received loan from ASA has become 15,53,419, while their number was only 1,62,214 in June 1993. Such huge expansion became possible due to some special features unique to ASA.One of the important features of ASA is simplicity. The activities of this institution, from the central to the unit offices at the field level are very easy and simple. With respect to record keeping and accounts keeping, ASA avoided the conventional system through innovation of a new but very simple system of its own. ASA has established itself as a self-reliant sustainable organisation with some unique features of its own among the micro-finance institutions working in the field of poverty alleviation. The working methodology of the organisation may be an example for the new and growing organisations of this country.


Source: The Daily Independent, Dhaka, November 10, 1999

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