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The winners including executive director Abdul Hamid Bhuiyan of SSS and its beneficiary Nazma Begum (the best micro entrepreneur in agriculture) of the 8th Citi Micro Entrepreneurship Awards-2013 pose with Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman, economist Wahiduddin Mahmud and Citi Asia Pacific chief executive officer Stephen Bird at the award giving ceremony.

Three micro entrepreneurs and two microfinance institutions on 31 August 2013 received the 8th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards-2013 for their work in poverty reduction and socio-economic development in the country.
Rabeya Begum from Kishoreganj as the `best micro entrepreneur’, Shahida Begum from Jhenaidah as the ‘best woman micro entrepreneur’, Nazma Begum (who is the successful beneficiary of SSS) from Tangail as the ‘best micro entrepreneur in agriculture’, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) as the ‘best microfinance institution’ and Society for Social Service (SSS) as the Most Innovative MFI got the awards in five categories for the year.

Citi Foundation, the philanthropic wing of Citigroup, sponsored and announced the awards at a ceremony held at Ruposhi Bangla hotel in Dhaka on 31 August 2013. So far 21 micro entrepreneurs and eight MFIs received the CMA awards in the last eight years, Citi officials said.

Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman, the 8th CMA advisory council chairperson Wahiduddin Mahmud and Citi Asia Pacific chief executive officer Stephen Bird handed over the awards to the winners. The 8th CMA screening committee chairperson and Credit and Development Forum executive director Abdul Awal and Citi country officer in Bangladesh and managing director Rashed Maqsood were present on the occasion.

The winner of the best micro entrepreneur award of the year received Tk 5 lakh while the most innovative MFI received Tk 6 lakh and remaining three winners received Tk 3.5 lakh each.

Wahiduddin Mahmud said, ‘At least 20 million out of 30 million microcredit borrowers are involved in income generation activities. About 60 per cent to 70 per cent of these borrowers are also investing money in many income sources. So the microcredit facility for this group of borrowers should be continued.’ Wahiduddin said it is the government’s duty to facilitate financial support to the people in their crisis or emergency. ‘But, in our country the MFIs are doing the job.’

Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman said a major financial source of the MFIs is the banking sector. Total investment of the commercial banks in 128 MFIs stood at Tk 3,266 crore till June 2012, he said. ‘I think, the MFIs should improve their services and products,’ he said adding that the main heroes of the MFIs were the borrowers. So, the MFIs should ensure their modernisation in order to develop services.’ Atiur said that the central bank and the government had taken many initiatives to improve the microcredit sector including introducing a credit information bureau for the MFIs, mobile banking service, financial literacy programme. Stephen Bird said Citigroup would continue its development supports in Bangladesh. Channel i and The Daily Star were the media partners of the programme in Bangladesh while Ruposhi Bangla Hotel was its venue partner.

Just after receiving the award of the ‘Most Innovative Micro Finance Institute’ for SSS, Executive Director Abdul Hamid Bhuiyan commented: The award has increased the prestige and image of the organization. Acceptability of the organization has further enhanced as well. It is pertinent to state that SSS activities are quite different to conventional NGO activities. So the award explicitly manifests the characteristic involvement of SSS in humanitarian, socio-cultural and innovative activities. It further recognizes the efficiency and performance of several hundred hardworking and committed workers of the organization. On the other hand, beneficiaries organized by SSS are gradually advancing ahead. Nazma Begum is the best example of many successful micro entrepreneurs. She has received this year the award of the ‘best micro entrepreneur in agriculture’. In 2006 SSS beneficiary Zakir Hossain was awarded as the ‘best micro entrepreneur’, in 2008 SSS received the award of the ‘best micro finance institution’, in 2012 Tajnaher won the ‘best micro entrepreneur’ award–Executive Director recalled in this regard. The award of the ‘Most Innovative Micro Finance Institute’ will undoubtedly imbue the spirit of enthusiasm and will act as source of inspiration for the workers of SSS in future.