Microfinance (8)

Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Agricultural Microfinance


Over half of the Bangladeshi population is engaged either directly or indirectly in agriculture. In recognition of the vital role of farming to the country's development, BRAC has three special projects in microfinance designed to empower farmers and strengthen sector-wide farming practice. 

Each project provides access to finance, training, productive inputs and business support, enabling farmers to set up sustainable agricultural enterprises. In doing so, they help to ensure stable livelihoods, improved health and nutrition, and lessened dependency on exported food products. The projects also promote gender equity by strongly encouraging participation from women farmers. 

Over the past 12 years, BRAC's microfinance projects in agriculture have reached approximately 660,000 farmers, and have disbursed over USD 280 million. Each project achieves a loan repayment rate of 98%. 

Borgachashi Unayyon Project (BCUP)

A large proportion of farmers are borgachashis - poor and landless tenant farmers who share crops with landowners in return for the right to cultivate on their land. BCUP works with borgachashis to give poor farmers the support they need to build and sustain productive enterprises. 

The project takes a 'credit plus' approach that combines access to customised loans of USD 200 - 1500, savings products, and technical training. It supports ventures ranging from vegetable cultivation, livestock, duck and poultry farming, aquaculture, as well as investments in land, and agricultural machinery. 


North-west Crop Diversification Project (NCDP) and Second Crop Diversification Project (SCDP)

NCDP and SCDP promote the use of high value crops, such as fruits and vegetables, to help farmers reap greater financial returns and promote better access to nutritional food products. 

The two projects offer access to credit services and savings products, including loans of USD 100 - 4,000, as well as training on improved technologies, and marketing support such as linking of small farmers to markets. 

NCDP is based in 10 districts in the north-west region of Bangladesh. SCDP marks the expansion of the project into another 27 districts where BRAC identified potential growth for high value crops. 

 ncdp                 scdp

BCUP, NCDP and SCDP are part of BRAC's broader strategy to develop the agriculture sector. For more information about BRAC's work in agriculture please visit Agriculture and Food Security Programme

Useful links: 
Research - Tenant Farmers Access to Credit and Extension Services: BRAC Tenant Farmer Development Project



Sunday, 17 January 2016 00:00

Research and Development


In 2010, we established a research and development unit. Its main functions include:

  • To identify strategies to improve existing operations and products
  • To assess feasibility for new products through market research and consumer insight
  • To design and pilot new products and processes
  • To explore and manage “finance-plus” initiatives and partnerships

The research and development unit is a small group that works closely with larger operation teams and BRAC’s social innovation lab. They spend much of their time observing field operations and gaining insights from other staff. In some cases, opportunities come from external groups, who are interested in partnering with BRAC for research, new products or to work for the inclusion of special population groups.

Our activities are constantly changing. See this presentation for examples of a selection of our current projects.

Learn more about our work:
“Innovating for the poor” in Ashoka Fellow Connect (October 2013)


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Financial Education and Client Protection


CSA jpg

A customer service assistant speaks to a BRAC microfinance client


Due to an increasing supply of microfinance products, there is an urgent need for increased attention to financial education and client protection. We piloted the financial education and client protection project in 2012, with an objective to enable our borrowers to make better decisions, such as evaluating financial institutions and properly using financial services.

Our financial education curriculum covers a range of important topics including: terms and conditions of products, rights and responsibilities of clients, dangers of over-indebtedness, the value of regular record keeping, benefits of saving and how to access BRAC’s grievance redress mechanism.


The lack of financial education is not just an individual issue. It affects entire households and communities. Our aim, therefore, is to raise awareness and build knowledge at many levels. BRAC’s approach to promoting financial education and client protection is not to stress an increase in knowledge, but also to help unaware people adopt financial behaviours that facilitate their wellbeing.

We use a variety of strategies to increase financial education:
• Pre-disbursement orientation of clients on basic financial awareness, rights and responsibilities of clients
• Reinforcement of key messages by frontline staff at regular group meetings
• Sharing information at other key gatherings, such as community action meetings and parents’ meetings at BRAC schools

To increase client protection, we have taken a number of steps. The clients’ rights and responsibilities are explicitly mentioned in the staff code of conduct. Managers are expected to be accessible to clients as issues arise, and we are strengthening other resources for clients by establishing call centres and a grievance redress mechanism.


To significantly enhance client experience, we are rolling out frontline customer service assistants to all branches. These women will provide customised information and support to all clients who come for services. They will also conduct sessions on financial education in nearby communities.

In addition, BRAC is working on pictorial materials and entertainment-filled education that will combine local stories, visual humour and role playing to draw and sustain the attention of the target audience which will be used in the training sessions for clients. Customer service assistants and staff can incorporate many of these tools into their training sessions and interactions with clients.


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Jobholders’ Loan

X10B8378gProduct features
•    Starting from BDT 25,000
•    6, 12 and 18 month tenures
•    Annual 26% declining balance interest
•    No processing fees, service charges or savings
      deposits necessary
•    Repayable through monthly instalments payable at
      BRAC branch offices or through bKash

Applicant eligibility
•    Bangladeshi national/citizen
•    Minimum 18 years of age
•    Working for present organisation (in Bangladesh) for at
      least 1 year
•    Minimum monthly gross salary: BDT 10,000
•    Must have a bank account

Required documents*
•    1 colour photograph and a copy of National ID of the
      applicant and the guarantor**
•    Employment certificate
•    Bank statement (for loans over BDT 1 lakh)

For more information please call 16241 (from 11am to 7pm, Sunday to Thursday)

*Document checklist is subject to change
**One guarantor required

Branch locations and contact information


Sunday, 17 January 2016 00:00

Migration Loans



Migration loans:
In Bangladesh, limited employment opportunities for a growing working age population means that many young men and women move overseas to work. Although often a worthwhile investment, the initial costs of going abroad are considerable, costing the average household USD 3,000 for going to the Middle East.

BRAC provides workers seeking employment abroad with migration loans, designed to meet the financing needs of migrant workers in a way that is manageable and affordable. The microfinance programme also checks the validity of contracts and travel documents to ensure clients are not victims of fraud by informal agents. This is complemented by a range of services available from BRAC’s safe migration programme such as pre-migration orientation and post-migration re-integration.

As of June 2016, BRAC has helped fund 194,000 migrant workers find employment abroad.

Remittance loans:
BRAC provides additional support to migrant households in the form of remittance loans. These loans are designed to offer additional flexibility to households who rely on monthly remittances sent from a family member earning overseas.

These loans enable households to access lump sums of money in order to make large investments or expenditures, while they wait to receive and save remittances sent from abroad. These are safe bets for the household and for BRAC because clients have a secure flow of income with which to steadily pay off instalments each month.

Between June 2014 and June 2016 BRAC offered this service to over 40,000 households.


Sunday, 17 January 2016 00:00

Small Enterprise Finance



A significant segment of society is not reached with financial services by either the formal banking sector or microfinance programmes targeted for poor households. This ‘missing middle’ can be a critical engine for economic growth and employment if equipped with the right tools.

BRAC developed a separate service that provides loans to entrepreneurs, to help grow micro and small sized businesses that help drive local economies. These tend to be in agriculture and small trade e.g. dairy and poultry farms, fisheries, auto-rickshaw mechanics, beauty parlours, and clothes retailers. BRAC’s impact from this service extends well beyond the number of borrowers, by promoting local employment and market development.

In Bangladesh, the project is called progoti, which means ‘progress’. Progoti clients are additionally supported with access to a range of savings products, options for refinancing and rescheduling. BRAC is also currently testing loyalty schemes and microinsurance products tailored to small entrepreneurs. In addition, clients are able to benefit from market linkages through BRAC’s network of social enterprises.

Small enterprise loans are available to both men and women, from all 2,000 of its branches spread across Bangladesh.




Total savings

USD 85 million

Total outstanding

USD 687 million

Average loan amount

USD 2,500

BRAC also provides small enterprise loans in Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Pakistan.


Sunday, 17 January 2016 00:00

Microfinance for women


MF for women

Across the world, women are disproportionately excluded from financial systems and resources needed to manage households, limiting their ability to be self-sufficient, or contribute to the family’s income and decision-making. Furthermore, money in the hands of women is more likely to be invested in the needs of the family, such as nutrition, and education.
BRAC provides women with access to collateral-free credit and savings services. In Bangladesh we call this project dabi, which means ‘demand’ or ‘right’.

Dabi loans are invested in a range of uses according to the need of individual borrowers and their households. Many loans are used to support income-generating activities and micro-enterprises such as cattle-rearing or craft-making. Because BRAC believes that it takes more than just finance to set up a successful enterprise, we also provide clients with access to productive assets, such as resilient farm animals, as well as access to markets to ensure fair prices. Alternatively, many loans are invested in children’s education, land or housing. Loans typically range from USD 160 to 5,000, and are repaid in weekly or monthly instalments over the course of one year.

Dabi products are delivered via ‘village organisations’ (VOs) which are community lending and savings groups of 15-25 women. VOs meet regularly with a BRAC field officer, in a place that is convenient for clients, not far from their doorsteps. Besides making savings deposits and paying loan instalments to BRAC, the meetings offer a valuable opportunity to increase financial literacy, raise awareness about women’s rights, and learn about other BRAC services in health, education, and legal aid services that they can access.

The VO network was and remains an important enabler of BRAC’s success in delivering grassroots development interventions to millions of poor women and households across the country. Today there are nearly 300,000 VOs administered by over 2,000 branches spread across all districts of Bangladesh.

BRAC runs similar projects in Myanmar, Pakistan, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Liberia.



9.7 million


3.4 million

Total savings

USD 419 million

Total outstanding

USD 845 million    

Average loan amount


Sunday, 17 January 2016 00:00


BRAC seeks to understand the heterogeneous needs of the poor and design microfinance services accordingly. BRAC’s microfinance programme offers diversified financial services to poor people unable to access mainstream banking services.

We use our wealth of expertise in other areas such as rural development, education and health to innovate financial services that meet the specific needs of different groups. These include products tailored for poor rural and urban women, landless and land-holding farmers, migrant workers, and small entrepreneurs. With BRAC, clients are able to access savings products and loans from between USD 100 – 10,000.

BRAC’s microfinance products are not suitable for everybody. BRAC operates a separate Targeting the Ultra Poor programme for the most vulnerable.     

BRAC's approach to financial inclusion          

overview infograph bigfont

*Diagram shows products available at different loan amounts and not proportions of clients reached
**Different loan product boundaries are approximate and can overlap

BRAC seeks to ensure that clients can get the most out of our products. To support borrowers, BRAC has invested in supply chains and marketing infrastructure so that supply of products from microenterprises can reach demand. In addition, each microfinance product integrates a set of financial education and client protection measures into its services to help safeguard against risks for clients.

BRAC is committed to a stringent monitoring and evaluation process. All of our microfinance projects are piloted, evaluated and adapted before being scaled up. Today, BRAC operates over 2,000 branches in all 64 districts in Bangladesh.


Bangladesh – At a glance (June 2016)

Total borrowers (Bangladesh)

5 million

Outstanding loan (USD)

$1.6 billion

Savings deposits (USD)

$0.5 billion


BRAC is a social impact-driven organisation. The success of our microfinance programme is measured according to the effectiveness of our projects in delivering social good. Financial sustainability of our microfinance products enables us to deliver more effective products and services, and offer more benefits to our clients.

BRAC believes that financial services are not enough to achieve sustainable poverty reduction. BRAC’s microfinance programme represents one component of BRAC’s holistic approach to development. It is designed to complement other interventions such as education, healthcare and legal aid, and all microfinance clients are encouraged to make use of these services.

Learn more

Microfinance Factsheet as of June 2016
Microfinance Briefing Document & Frequently Asked Questions - English
Microfinance Briefing Document & Frequently Asked Questions - Bangla