Bangladesh Kosovo India
  IDF–Grameen Microfinance Model in the Hilly Region  

Integrated Development Foundation (IDF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, which started its journey in 1993, as an experiment of the Grameen microfinance model in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It started with a small seed capital of $7,500 from Grameen Trust. Chittagong Hill Tracts, because of its geographical setting and hilly terrain, is a remote and economically backward area of Bangladesh, inhabited by 13 different indigenous tribes, with different cultures and languages of their own. The tribal people responded enthusiastically to the microcredit program and due to the growing demand of microloans, donor agencies such as Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), ILO, PKSF etc. extended financial assistance to IDF for expansion of its program.

IDF member engaged in kahtha embroidery.

IDF target clients are very poor women and the organization follows the Grameen system for group formation, training, savings and loan repayment. Apart from its microcredit program, IDF also incorporates various training programs for its members where issues such as health, sanitation, skill development, disaster management etc. are covered. The organization also offers its members health and life insurance, insurance for their micro-enterprises as well as loans for rehabilitation, housing, sanitation and water.

Based on a SIDA study of May 2003, IDF had a commendable impact on the lives of its members:

  • Capital per member household increased 3.7 times after 3 years in the program.
  • Loan activities generated 12.4 hours of additional employment per day for its members, spouses and other people cumulatively.
  • Income per member household doubled over a period of four years.
  • Prior to IDF’s intervention, 75% of its member households were living below the poverty line. In 2003, this figure was reduced to 26%.
  • Less than one-third of IDF’s members had tin-roofed houses before joining the program. In 2003, more than two-third of its members owned tin roofed houses.

There were many obstacles that the organization had to overcome. The most striking one is catering to the needs of different tribes having different cultures and languages. IDF tackled this issue from the very beginning by encouraging the participation of tribal leaders and members during the area selection and projection meetings. It also recruited field staff from local tribes to serve their respective groups. This aided development of a strong communication system between the tribal groups and IDF and fostered a good working relationship with the tribes.

As of December 2003, IDF has been able to reach 39,098 poor families in 1,080 villages, through its 39 branches. It has provided its members with various economic and social services for the betterment of their livelihood. During that period, IDF disbursed $14.4 million in loans, of which $2.54 million remains outstanding with a repayment rate of 99.95%. As of December 2003, IDF has accumulated $1.2 million in members’ group savings.

Compiled by Zain Bari
IDF has been a Grameen Trust Partner since 1993.

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