The success of microfinance in Bangladesh is now well-appreciated in home and abroad. Bangladesh is considered to be an "Ideal Model" of microfinance. Microcredit has changed the lives of target people.
Now poor people have no complication in receiving credits. An active participation of women in credit activities has increased their economic solvency. Financial self-reliance of women has largely contributed to man-woman equality and woman-empowerment.
SSS started to implement microcredit and savings activities since 1991. Then the organization gradually imparted security fund and remittance transfer activities to its microfinance program. In course of time, it has brought variety to the program according to the demand of clients and reality.
The first step of credit program is group formation. Generally a group is formed with 10 to 40 members. Every client needs to be a member of any group within the working area according to organization rule. Within two weeks of membership, the client can get credit under a definite activity of the credit program depending on his/her desire and capability. Clients need to pay installments after 14 days from the day of receiving credits. They have to repay loans on weekly/monthly basis at a yearly interest rate of zero to 25 % (declining method) maximum.
Group members have to attend the weekly meetings on a fixed date. In the meetings, various ways to improve financial condition, woman rights and empowerment, food and nutrition, health consciousness, education and culture etc. are discussed. At the same time, member enlistment, savings and installment recovery, loan proposal, proposal for meeting security fund claim, policies of microfinance of the organization, modified or new policies and so on are also discussed in these meetings.
As on 30 June 2016, the cumulated loan disbursement is 10,040.97 crore, number of members is 5,46,126 and groups 23,890. In 2015-2016, SSS disbursed Tk. 1,969.56 crore among 6,28,177 borrowers. Overall average credit recovery rate is 99.70 per cent. Among the clients, 98.50 per cent is woman and 1.50 per cent man.
Clients of SSS, being included in microfinance program, get the opportunity of receiving different collateral free financial services along with training, technological knowledge, technology transfer and other desired services in the applied sectors. They are upgrading their income and savings by investing the credit in different income generating sectors. These people are now included within the range of health, nutrition and education services. They have defeated poverty and are heading towards development.
Divisions of credit program are presented below:
Jagaran (Rural and Urban) Microcredit Program:
Jagaran credit program is one of the main credit activities of SSS. SSS has been implementing the activity with a view to bringing about a change in the socio-economic condition of the poor and working class people in rural and urban economy. As on 30 June 2016, SSS has expanded Jagaran activities in 9,816 villages of 1,122 unions of 169 Upazilas under 27 Districts. There are 4,20,551 group members under the activity at present and 98 per cent are women among them. The loan size fixes at Tk12,000 to Tk 49,000 maximum. The duration is 1 year with weekly repayment system. The service charge is 25 per cent (on declining method).
Borrowers of Jagaran credit activity develop their financial condition by investing their credits in different income generating activities. Jagaran Microcredit is the largest sector of SSS credit activities. This program is expanded and mobilized across entire working area. Expansion of the activities proves its demand, acceptability and success. Almost all members under the activities are women.
Involvement of women in financial activities has made their rural socio-cultural background strong. This program has played a significant role in establishing the rights of women and their empowerment. Presence of women in different socio-cultural activities can highly be noticed after their success in financial activities.
Agrasar (Micro Entrepreneur) Credit Program:
To alleviate poverty permanently, employment creation has no alternative. Beneficiaries of the organization possess adequate merit and innovation; they also have spirits to do something new. Many of them have enough skill and experience in income generating activities that they inherited over times and also traditionally. With a view to providing financial and technical support to beneficiaries of this class, SSS has been implementing Agrasar credit program since 2002.
The organization has been implementing the activities with financial support from PKSF along with its own fund. Presently, the credit activities are expanded over the entire working area. It is the second largest sector of loan disbursement. In exchange for service charge of 25 per cent annually, loan amount of Tk 50,000 minimum to Tk 10,00,000 maximum is provided under the program.
In the working area, the number of beneficiaries and loan disbursement are always ascending. The program has put the sign of widely success and advancement in every sector.
Sufalon (Seasonal and Agricultural) Microcredit Program:
Lack of capital and technology transfer is main obstruction on the way of our agriculture based economy. Marginal and poor farmers of rural and sub-town regions cannot run their production activity owing to capital deficiency. With a view to providing financial and technical support to this kind of members, SSS started implementing Sufalan microcredit program towards the end of 2006. PKSF and Commercial Prime Bank are financially supporting the activities. Presently the project has been expanded over entire working area of the organization.
Two types of credits are being provided under Sufalan microcredit: Beef Fattening Credit and Agricultural Sector Credit. The loan amount can be repaid at a time after selling the cow at a service charge of 25 percent. On the other hand, seasonal agriculture credit is being provided on various seasonal crops. The borrowers can repay the loan at a time after selling the crops at a service charge of 25 per cent.
Although risk in agriculture owing to natural disaster is very high, Sufalan microcredit activities have been expanded as expected in the working area. The demand of Sufalan credit to beneficiaries is always ascending owing to technical and educational support along with the one-time repayment facility. At present, it has become one of the most promising credit sectors.
Buniad (Ultra Poor and PRIME) Credit Activities:
The destitute and vulnerable families of the society cannot participate in credit activities owing to financial insufficiency. These families have no land or fixed assets. In order to develop this class of people, SSS has been implementing Buniad activity since 2004. On the other hand, it has also been implementing Programmed Initiatives for Monga Eradication (PRIME) or Songjog project since later part of 2007 to develop the poor from Monga-affected areas.
PKSF is funding both the projects. SSS involves the ultra poor and Monga affected people in the activities by giving training on changing their outlook and increasing the skill of income earning. Since 2012 both these projects are being implemented in integrated approach.
The determined areas for the integrated activities are Tangail, Gazipur, Dhaka, Sherpur, Jamalpur, Kurigram, Rangpur, Sirajganj, Bogra, Joypurhat, Gaybandha, Pabna, Natore, Rajshahi, Kishoreganj and Mymensingh districts. Presently, SSS operates the program in 2,127 villages within 387 unions or municipalities of 80 Upazilas under 16 districts. All of the target beneficiaries are women.
Beneficiary number and loan disbursement in this sector have gradually decreased. This means that many people under this class in the working area have removed the chains of chronic poverty and included themselves in the main credit program of the organization. Thus the poverty rate is gradually being reduced.
Sahas (Disaster Management) Loan:
Natural disaster is a continuous factor in our country. Almost every year, natural disasters strike any region in our country. SSS began implementing Sahas credit activities in order to bring the affected people back to normal life, providing them with financial support and taking preparation to cope with the disaster. SSS has been implementing the activity since the flood in 1998.
Since 2007, SSS has been implementing the project under the name of “Livelihood Restoration Project” funded by World Bank and supported by PKSF. Later on, Sahas Loan activities were launched in the disaster affected working areas of SSS with a view to defending the damages of disaster. The affected people from disaster-prone areas are the target people of the project.
Borrower number and loan disbursement under the activity get increased in a particular year, but they decrease in another. The main reason behind it is that the demand and disbursement of Sahas credit increase in years more devastatingly affected by natural disasters. Beneficiaries of the organization have been benefitted specially by getting the credit facility during emergency. Under the financial assistance of Sahas, they have been able to protect their financial activities and assets from the unexpected devouring of disasters.
ENRICH is an innovative program. The program is an integrated device of lives, livelihood and other matters related to the poor people along with nutrition and education in eliminating their poverty. SSS has been implementing the program putting importance on making optimum use of assets and skills of poor families, increasing their assets and capacities in future as well, and taking necessary strategies.
With planning of PKSF and funding of SSS, SSS started “Enhancing Resources and Increasing Capacities of Poor Households towards Elimination of their Poverty–ENRICH program in the beginning of 2010 in Dainna Union of Tangail District through Charabari Branch. In the beginning of 2012, the organization launched Dainna branch at Dainna union in order to increase the amplitude of the activities of ENRICH program and to deliver better services at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries. On the other hand, the program was started in Bahadurshadi union under Kaliganj branch of Gazipur on October 2014. At present, 14,491 families in 45 villages getting the benefits of ENRICH program. The number of beneficiaries is 59,313.
55 education centres have been established according to the reality and demand at the field level, apart from the activities going on in five education centres along with students willing to go to primary school and the dropped-outs in the unions under ENRICH. A total of 1,454 students of pre-primary level, class one and two are taught in these education centres.
In order to increase access into health services, primary healthcare activities have been applied among target families in the working area. Health providers of ENRICH program feed the children with deworming syrup moving from house to house, check blood pressure of pregnant mothers and general people, and measure weight of pregnant mothers and their children. They also examine blood sugar of the diabetic patients, their blood pressure and blood hemoglobin and do pregnancy identification tests. They provide contraceptive injection to the potent couples. At present, an MBBS doctor provides treatment to the patients four times a month in the satellite clinics under every branch.
During 2015-2016 fiscal year, a total of 10 free medical camps were arranged. 1,851 people got medical services and among them, 21 received eye operation service.
Supports are being provided to cultivate vegetables and different crops in homestead compound. As on 30 June 2016, a total of 2,074 Pheromone traps were distributed among vegetable farmers. 62 farmers were made to produce vermi-compost. LCC cards were distributed among 34 farmers.
Under the joint supervision of Union Parishad, beneficiaries and partner organizations, value chain project (Basak cultivation) along both sides of different roads has been accepted with a view to increasing income and creating employment for the poor people. At the first step, a total of 20 entrepreneurs under the project planted 25 thousand Basak plants along both sides of 16 kilometers of road.
In order to improve the standard of living of the community, 102 Solar Home Systems have been provided till June 2016 to facilitate the education of the children of the villages in Dainna union where there is no electricity. Friendly stoves have been installed in 21 families. One public toilet and nine ENRICH centres have also been set up in the working area. SSS, with financial support from PKSF, has installed and repaired 73 tube-wells and 59 sanitary latrines till June 2016 in different community-based religious institutions and schools. Besides, financial support has been provided to build and repair 37 permanent structures of bamboo culvert and ring culvert.
Income raising credits are being disbursed from May 2012. According to the policies of ENRICH under income raising credit, all members aging above 18 from every family comes under microcredit facilities. In this matter, there is opportunity to take maximum amount of 10 lac taka as credit per family. Income raising borrower will be considered for credit facilities only to develop his/her living standard and create assets.
Till June 2016, trainings have been provided to 42 on cow fattening, 579 on cow rearing. Overall activity of ENRICH program has put positive impact on the minds of local people. Now, it has become popular as a special program in poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
Housing Loan Project:
Habitable and safe accommodations are the prerequisite of building a healthy and ideal nation. SSS has been implementing the housing loan program since 1999 with a view to solving housing problem for the people of low income. Bangladesh Bank is providing financial support in this project. Homeless members are beneficiaries of the project. The credit is provided on a service charge of 6 per cent only. The amount can be repaid within 4.5 year with weekly installment system. The activity is confined within Tangail district only.
Pure Water Distribution and Sanitation Loan Project
In order to keep our health normal and spontaneous, drinking pure water and having sanitary sewerage system have no alternative. SSS started implementing this project from 1993 considering the objectives to protect the poor people from being infected by germs and diseases and lessen their expenditure in family health sector.
SSS itself and NGO Forum for Public Health are funding the activities. The activities are being implemented in its entire working area. The duration of loan repayment is one year with weekly installment system. As a result of the implementation of the project, beneficiary families have been able to install tube-wells and sanitary latrines easily. They all are now drinking safe drinking water and using sanitary latrines.
Special Loan Program:
Many of organized group members of SSS live in towns and industrial areas. Members living in these areas cannot take agriculture loan or other second additional credits apart from main loan facility in spite of their willingness. As a result, they cannot make their income diversified for want of capital in spite of having capabilities and willingness.
SSS adopted special loan program for this kind of members to increase their business income, facilitate any income generating activity, purchase household components, buy or lease lands, take advanced treatment, meet education expenses of children, build or repair houses, arrange social ceremonies and so on. SSS has been implementing the program since February 2016. Clients who are the second time borrowers and do not have the opportunity to take agriculture credit, and who have taken loan of one lac taka or less can get the special loan facility. The loan amount fixes at Tk. 10,000 to Tk. 25,000 maximum. But in special circumstances, borrowers can get credit up to Tk. 50,000 under the approval of monitoring officer in charge of the related zone. Security fund and other policies of the program are similar to main credit program. [Necessary information on the program is shown in Table-2.4]
Credit Program for Service Holders:
According to present policy of the organization, there is no opportunity to provide credits in other components without any visible income generating activities. But there are some professionals or service holders in our society with constant income and firm financial base. If these families got additional way of financing, they would have been able to accelerate the development of their families through income generation, asset raising and social or financial satisfaction amplifying.
SSS has started implementing credit program for service holders with a view to providing financial assistance to permanent officers and staffs of government, semi-government, autonomous and private institutions. A job holder within working area of the organization will be able to take credit facilities to meet the expenses of income generating activities, building or repairing houses, decorating houses and purchasing furniture, education of family members, advanced medical treatment, arranging social or religious ceremonies, recreation and traveling abroad, employment abroad, buying transports for personal and family necessity and so on. In this component, beneficiaries must have a minimum monthly salary of Tk. 10,000.
The loan is provided maximum up to five times of monthly net salary based on the salary statement. But in case of more amount than that, the borrower have to provide statement of total income along with alternative income sources and get the special approval of related zonal manager. In this case, the loan amount will not exceed seven to eight times of monthly salary. The duration of loan repayment is one and half year. Savings, insurance, security and other policies of the program will be conducted by the policies of credit program for service holders.