On completion of 29th year of its operation, Grameen Bank now stands on the threshold of reaching another important milestone of three decades of dedicated service to the poor by the end of 2013.
Although the Bank has come of age, it has successfully averted the fatigue and inertia that tend to set in when an institution grows older and bigger. Our success to escape the onset of age related syndromes has been achieved by constantly refining the strategy and products mix coupled with renewal of our pledge to stand by the poor in their hours of needs. Infusion of new vigour and stimulus among our staff has also helped us to sustain the vibrancy and momentum of growth that have long been a hallmark of Grameen Bank.
As we enter the 30th year of operation, we draw immense satisfaction that starting with a modest objective of empowering the poor with micro-credits, GB has, over the years, designed various products and services to meet their material as well as aesthetic needs. These have empowered them to walk with their heads high as proud members of the society.
Although micro-credits continues to remain a dominant feature of GB’s operation, it has introduced other loan products like Microenterprise Loans to enable its more dynamic members to undertake bigger ventures without any restriction on the loan size. By the end of 2012, we had disbursed 4,549,270 micro-enterprise loans amounting to BDT 142,368.43 million (USD 1,987.90 million). It provided an opportunity for our more enterprising members to carve a niche in a bigger arena of the business world. Other loan products include credits for building modest shelters over their heads, soft term loans for higher education of the children of the members in addition to scholarships that are given to encourage the members to send their children to school. Creation of social awareness, leadership training and promotion of collective approach to solve theirproblems continues to remain one of the coreobjectives of GB for empowerment of the members.
With a network of 2,567 branches covering 81,386 villages, the Bank has come quite close to fulfilling its dream of taking its services to the doorsteps of every household of rural Bangladesh. What now remains as our unfinished agenda is to build on its successes and open new windows of opportunities to improve the quality of lives of the poor.
GB carried forward its momentum of expansion in 2012. By the end of the year the Bank’s aggregate membership increased to 8.37 million. That number, interestingly, is higher than at least half the number of countries’ population of the world.
In addition to its sustained drive for enrolment of new members, Grameen Bank also continued to enlarge its outreach by expanding its network. By the end of 2012 the number of branches reached 2,567. GB network now encompasses 81,386 villages covering nearly 97% of the country’s entire landscape. By the end of 2012, cumulative amount of loans disbursed by the Bank reached nearly BDT 822 billion equivalent to USD 13.04 billion.
During the year under review the Bank disbursed BDT 27 million (USD 0.34 million) as housing loans to about 2,170 new applicants. It brought the amount of cumulative disbursement of the Bank’s housing loans to a new high of BDT 9,052 million (USD 112.40 million). The scheme has so far enabled 693,492 Bank’s members to build modest houses which served as a protection against natural elements, elevated their status in the society and also provided a base from which they can ply their trade with relative comfort.
Another important program is the Bank’s higher education loans. By the end of the year 2012 under review loans totaling BDT 2,945.41 million (USD 41.73 million) were sanctioned to 51,698 meritorious students from poor households. No interest is applied on the loan during the study period while only 5% is charged on completion of their studies. It gives us no small pleasure to see the recipients of our scholarships settled as doctors, engineers, college professors and civil servants on completion of their study.
By the end of the year, an aggregate number of 189,962 students were offered scholarships totaling BDT 298.12 million (USD 3.70 million). Without the Bank’s support, many of them would have probably drifted into the world of crime and drugs.
Under another innovative program, known as ‘Struggling Members Program’, interest free loans amounting to BDT 165.37 million (USD 2.46 million) were provided to 81,498 beggars, the most vulnerable groups in the social structure. Their repayment records are nearly as good as their regular mainstream peers. By the end of 2012 they had repaid BDT 136.27 million (USD 1.99 million).
As it is well known, Grameen Bank has impacted the lives of millions, especially women, who chose to come under its protective umbrella not only to improve their lives in material terms but also to advance their position in the society by using GB as a stepping stone. The Bank, however, encountered many lean patches on its way to become what it is now. The Bank’s inner organizational strength helped it to overcome these patches to keep on track to serve as a beacon for the multitudes languishing under the heavy weight of poverty and deprivations.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Board of Directors for the support and guidance to run the affairs of the Bank. I also congratulate the staff of the Bank for their commitment to serve the poor and to the Bank’s millions of borrowers-shareholders for their unwavering support to realize our dream of a poverty free society.
Acting Managing Director