Financing Social Innovation: A Case Study of Micro Financing in Bangladesh

IERI Working Paper 2011-0108
Ismat Mahmuda, Angathevar Baskaran and Jatin Pancholi

Micro financing is perceived to contribute towards poverty reduction by developing small enterprises. We examined the Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction (CFPR) programme implemented by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) between 2002 and 2007. We selected this case because it used a different approach of micro financing where assets were transferred rather than cash to participants. We examined two aspects of the programme: (i) the impact of micro financing through asset transfer instead of cash on reducing poverty; (ii) the factors that contributed to positive impact or little or no impact on the economic conditions of the participant households and the trajectories of changes experienced in these economic conditions. These were analysed using data gathered from a survey of 21 beneficiaries and also from the in-depth interviews of 8 of these households, which included both successful and not so successful cases. The study found that the asset transferring programme resulted in significant improvement in the livelihood of the majority of members. However, in some cases the beneficiaries did not see any or significant improvement in their livelihood. The study revealed that households that demonstrated proper planning, hard work, and personal interest in the business they started have witnessed improved quality of life through micro financing, while idleness of members and absence of proper planning resulted in failures. To some extent, it was found that social barriers can also contribute to failures, even if the beneficiaries work hard and are highly motivated. Based on these findings, the study makes some policy recommendations.

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