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BRAC all set to set foot on Indian soil

Founder and chairman of the largest NGO in the world, BRAC says the organisation plans to step into India soon.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 23:22 IST

The founder and chairman of the largest NGO in the world, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, Dr Fazle Hasan Abed on Tuesday said, "We can provide some inputs to India regarding micro financing because even though India has a potential of 100 million borrowers, today no more than 10 million are being used."

Talking to Hindustan Times he said "BRAC has started its operations in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda,Tanzania and southern Sudan."

"BRAC has not yet come to India but we would like to do that soon after we get into Pakistan. I had a talk with Prime Minister of Pakistan a couple of days ago and they would like us to register our NGO there and concentrate our work in the area of girls education and micro financing particularly in the North west frontior provinces."
     
Dr Abed was in New Delhi to deliver the inaugural lecture "Sharing Perspectives on Rural Development" organised by the Agha Khan Rural Support Programme, India, an agency of the Agha Khan Development Network. 

BRAC, which works in the field of micro finance, education, health, social development among others is the largest NGO in the world with a total staff strength of 97,000 and a budget of  over US $ 300 million, he said.

Speaking of the micro finance scheme of BRAC he said it worked on the simple principle of giving loan to poor people mostly women without asking for any collateral. The small amounts of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 were paid to a group of 30-40 women. "There was group solidarity so in case one women was unable to pay others chipped in," he said.

"We trained them in several areas so that they could utilize the loan and get sufficient economic returns to pay back the loan for which we charged 15 per cent interest rate," he said.

"We also took their savings and gave them 6 per cent interest rate on it," he said
     
"Interestingly we get 99 per cent our loans back showing that the business in which they were putting their money was a success."  

One of the reasons for the success of the scheme was that they were not involving any banks and going directly to the villagers instead of making the villagers come to them, he said.

"The 5.2 million people we are serving, our staff meets them every week to collect savings. We have a staff of 18,000 for this who get bonus and benefits for no default from loanees."

As far as education is concerned due to poverty and gender bias a large number of girls do not go to schools in Bangladesh. Today, 10 per cent of Bangladeshi children, around 1.5 million children go to BARC schools which are one teacher schools with 33 children, where it is ensured that 70 per cent of children were girls, he said. There are 49,000 such schools in Bangladesh, he added. BARC also has a network of  70,000 health volunteers all over Bangladesh, he said.