Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


Ashrai is getting results with a savings-led model among minority peoples in northwest Bangladesh. These people are mostly landless and illiterate, and earn about $50 a year per person. They are a vital population segment that microfinance institutions in Bangladesh and elsewhere are unable to serve successfully. Ashrai began its field work ten years ago by replicating Grameen Bank, but rapidly learned from its clients that they needed savings at least at much as loans, flexible loan repayment schedules structured around seasonal cash flow, and an easing of the requirement that loans be for productive purposes. Ashrai takes an innovative approach based on intensive capacity building to help clients build small, informal financial intermediaries. Savings mobilization, institution-building, and education/literacy interventions work together to support the efforts of some of the world's poorest people to build a base of economic power and self-respect.


Brett Matthews is a Canadian banker who has worked with MFIs since 1999.; Dr. Ahsan Alia is a social anthropologist working in the Department of Anthropology at Dhaka University and is the founding director of ASHRAI.



Journal Title

Journal of Microfinance

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