50% of adults in Bangladesh do not have access to formal financial services.
We are one of the world’s largest providers of financial services, operating in seven countries across Asia and Africa.
Microfinance gives people who are excluded from the formal banking system, access to a suite of financial services, such as loans, savings, and microinsurance. It supports families to invest in income-generating activities, build assets, smooth consumption, and reduce vulnerability to health shocks and natural disasters. Microfinance also provides an alternative to high-interest loans from informal lenders as well as harmful coping mechanisms that people living in poverty use in the event of shocks, such as selling productive assets.
We recognise the heterogeneity among people living in poverty; and carefully develop customised financial products and services that best meet their varying needs. Our range of financial services caters to various demographics in Bangladesh, such as smallholder farmers, micro and small entrepreneurs, migrant worker households, and jobholders, with a special focus on women. Beyond tailored loans, we also provide short and long-term savings, insurance, and access to mobile money services.
Microfinance, as part of our holistic approach to development, complements our other social development interventions in offering a powerful combination of services for people to build stable, healthy, and empowered livelihoods.
THE BIG BUSINESS OF SMALL TOYS IN DHAKA
Sharmin is one of the biggest soft toy makers in Dhaka. Her two phones ring constantly, and her hands never stop. Eid is coming and every parent will want to buy toys for their children. Sharmin has no time to lose.
Twenty years ago Sharmin was struggling to make ends meet. Her only income was what she earned sewing soft toys at a local factory. Her husband had a restaurant, but he was forced to shut its doors after his brothers misappropriated a large sum of money. With a loss of USD 11,840 (BDT 1,000,000) her husband started pulling a rickshaw, but earned too little to repay the debt from the restaurant.
Sharmin took a small loan of USD 118 (BDT 10,000) from BRAC to buy a sewing machine and some cloth to manufacture her own soft toys in their one-room house in Kamrangirchar. Her work was high quality, so it sold quickly. She soon needed more sewing machines, so she took another loan of USD 3,550 (BDT 300,000) through Progoti, a BRAC microfinance product that caters to the needs of small entrepreneurs who face challenges such as not possessing enough capital to access loans through traditional banks.
Today, Sharmin sells USD 1,775 (BDT 150,000) of toys per day. She has eight machines and employs eight women. Two of them are breastfeeding mothers and cannot leave their babies alone. Herself a mother of three, Shamima sent two machines to their homes so they can work from home.
She has cleared her husband’s debts and bought land in her hometown of Barishal with the profits. Last year, she paid for her daughter to finish college. Her second daughter is in high school and her son studies in a madrasa. She has also taught her husband cutting, and he is now the ‘cutting master’ in their small factory.