METLIFE FOUNDATION FUNDED GLOBAL INITIATIVE IMPROVES ACCESS TO PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN BANGLADESH
SAJIDA Foundation Partners with bKash to increase access to financial services for women using digital technology
DHAKA, BANGLADESH, June 23, 2016
SAJIDA Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO) providing microfinance services to poor and low income people in Bangladesh, and bKash Limited, a leading Mobile Financial Service (MFS) provider in the world, launched a new MFS-based microfinance initiative.
This initiative will allow SAJIDA to disburse loans directly into the bKash accounts of SAJIDA clients. In addition, members of the NGO, from across 16 districts, can also make loan repayments and deposit savings with SAJIDA Foundation through their bKash accounts. The combination of mature, dynamic microfinance institutions and availability of affordable and accessible digital financial services makes Bangladesh a fitting testing ground for digitized microfinance.
Launched in July 2011, bKash is one the largest mobile financial service providers in the world with over 22 million accounts. Awareness of bKash is ubiquitous among the clients of SAJIDA Foundation’s pilot branches, and more than half of clients surveyed have used bKash services.
“Convenience for our members was a big factor in our decision to look into servicing loans through bKash,” said Zahida Fizza Kabir, Executive Director of SAJIDA Foundation. “Some of them were actually already making ad hoc repayments using bKash. We at SAJIDA, an innovative MFI sensitive to the preferences of our members and responsive to new opportunities on the ground, believe that it only made sense to explore this option at scale.”
The first phase of the project will see digital loan and savings services rolled out to five branches as part of the Optimizing Performance Through Improved Cross(X)-Sell(OPTIX) initiative funded by MetLife Foundation, administered by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) and managed by Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA). The objective of OPTIX is to build and provide a full suite of financial services for low income clients of partner institutions. In the second phase, these services will be made available to the rest of SAJIDA’s 200,000+ members starting in the fourth quarter of 2016.
“When we helped develop OPTIX our goal was to bring together partners with a diverse set of expertise and have them work together on finding solutions for affordable and scalable financial services for low income families and individuals. This announcement today speaks to the success of the program,” said Evelyn Stark, Assistant Vice President, MetLife Foundation.
The beneficiaries will be able to easily cash out their loan amounts from any of bKash’s 120,000 agent points across the country. SAJIDA expects a tangible reduction in the amount of time loan officers spend originating and servicing loans, and will be passing on these cost savings to members by covering the cash-out fees that would normally be borne by the borrower as an added incentive to promote uptake of these “digital loans.”
Kamal Quadir, Chief Executive Officer of bKash said, “bKash has emerged as a very efficient payment infrastructure and a very good channel for other organizations to deliver inclusive financial products to common people. SAJIDA Foundation’s microfinance scheme is an example of such an initiative, as it is going to use bKash effectively to reach the target segment at low cost and with higher efficiency. The initiatives will also help to build a digital money ecosystem in Bangladesh.”
Through this initiative, SAJIDA joins a small but growing group of financial service providers across the world that are successfully leveraging mobile money platforms to provide loan and savings services to low income clients.
About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2015, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $700 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.