BRAC engaged local government officials in Bangladesh by inviting them to observe their microfinance operations and discussing how microfinance fits into broader development goals. Additionally, BRAC held an internal debate with staff on the value of microfinance.
The biggest gaps to achieving financial inclusion in the country/industry in focus:
- Barriers to female empowerment - specifically the lack of formal employment opportunities, persistent gender inequality within households and communities, visible through high rates of child marriage
- The lack of a supportive eco-system for responsible financial services, such as the lack of a credit bureau to help monitor over-indebtedness, or a system that enables microfinance institutions to verify national identification numbers
- Low financial literacy of clients, which includes limited numeracy skills and digital literacy
Key action steps to advance financial inclusion:
Increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of financial inclusion through direct local government and local media engagement.
Quote(s) from the discussion:
"If you are in a battlefield you will need right weapon at the right moment. Similarly, as an organization, when we work for eradicating extreme poverty and helping individuals to realise their potential, we need precise tools like microfinance to provide better services to our clients. As our world is changing, we need to gain insights, thoughts and experiences to adjust, re-adjust, sharpen and strengthen microfinance to impact wider groups of people."
- Dr. Muhammad Musa, Executive Director, BRAC
“Financial exclusion refers to the lack of access to financial services. It limits opportunities for employment and enterprise development,”
- Mejbah Uddin Chowdhury, Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi
“If we couldn't borrow from BRAC microfinance we would have to borrow from local money lenders at much higher interest rate and at the end of the day we would be undone. With the help of BRAC microfinance we are gradually improving our socioeconomic condition.”
– Unnamed, BRAC microfinance client