A Mission from Grameen

A two-member Grameen Mission visited Turkey in March this year in order to assess the feasibility for initiating a Grameen type microcredit program in Turkey. Professor Dr. Aziz Akgul, a Member of the Turkish parliament visited Grameen Bank in February, 2003, and invited this mission.

The mission met a lot of people in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Siirt and Istanbul, including policy makers, senior officials, NGO representatives and poor people in their homes, work places and at centers supported by solidarity foundations. The team had the privilege of meeting the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, the Minister of State for Social Assistance, and the Governor of Diyarbakir, to exchange views with them on issues related to microcredit and poverty reduction. It also shared with them the global experience of microcredit based on the Grameen Bank Approach. The mission found a tremendous concern at all levels to help the poor to overcome poverty and discussed the different social assistance programs (health, education, food, cloth, heating etc.).

Turkey enjoys a unique geographical position having part of its territory in Europe and most of it in

Professor Latifee and Ms. Nurjahan Begum from Grameen Mission meet Professor Aziz Akgul and other Turkish hosts

Asia. It has a population of more than 68 million. Although its social assistance and protection system is quite extensive, but the number of extremely vulnerable population is widespread. Employment opportunities are very meager in relation to its growing workforce. In fact, employment to working age population rates have declined sharply since the 1970s, suggesting that a much smaller fraction of Turkish labor force is economically active and employed today compared to 20 years ago. The recent economic crisis and the 1999 Marmara earthquake have made the situation worse. Inflation rate is as high as 50%. The poor need to earn their livelihood. Charity is not a lasting solution. They need access to capital so that they can generate their own employment and income to lead a dignified life.

Diyarbakir province located in South East Anatolia, is one of the most economically depressed areas of Turkey. The mission therefore specially studied its socio-economic conditions and examined the possibility of initiating a microcredit program in both rural and urban areas of Diyarbakir, which suffers from higher death and infant mortality rates a well as an alarming rate of population growth (3.8% per annum). The Mission considered different approaches to project implementation and after detailed discussion with Professor Aziz and others, recommended that a microcredit program under the ''Build, Operate and Transfer''(BOT) model of Grameen Trust can be started immediately in and around Diyarbakir city to demonstrate that poverty alleviation is a doable proposition and can be tackled successfully with microcredit as the instrument on a sustainable basis. Preparations are underway to have the program on the ground soon with the financial support from Turkiye Ysrafy Onleme Vakfy -a Foundation committed to poverty alleviation.

By H. I. Latifee, Grameen Trust

 Editor : Muhammad
Executive Editor : Khalid Shams 
Editorial Assistance :
Nazneen Sultana
Lamiya Morshed 
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