4 October 2023

Venue: Multi-Purpose Hall, IUB

The knowledge sharing and dissemination event, "Empowering Rural Poor through Financial Inclusion," organized by Strengthening Household Ability to Respond to Development Opportunities (SHOUHARDO) III Plus Activity of CARE Bangladesh and the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), took place on October 04, 2023. The event, held at IUB's Multi-purpose Hall, featured key figures such as Marc Nosbach, Chief of Party, SHOUHARDO III Plus, and Dr. Faisal Kabir, Manager-Research, Documentation and Reporting, who delivered a keynote presentation. Nosbach highlighted SHOUHARDO III's success and the transformative impact on rural livelihoods, especially through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Dr. Kabir's presentation focused on the loan experiences of rural poor individuals, emphasizing their preferences for microloans and the constraints faced in dealing with various financial institutions. He proposed a two-fold approach for financial inclusion, recognizing the role of self-organized savings groups and encouraging commercial banks to expand through agent banking.

The subsequent panel discussion, moderated by Abdul Mannan Mazumder, delved into the challenges faced by commercial banks in serving the impoverished population, particularly in Haor and Char regions. Panelists, including Dr. Marufa Akter, Dr. Meherun Ahmed, Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Quazi Mortuza Ali, and Prajna Paramita Saha, highlighted the significance of VSLAs, the impact of microfinance organizations, loan conditions, and the role of commercial banks in financial inclusion. The discussion underscored the potential of VSLAs in improving financial inclusion in Bangladesh, with a call for continued support from the government and stakeholders.

The event also featured an interactive Q&A session, addressing queries on data analysis methodologies, challenges in loan-taking processes, and collaborative efforts for reliable financial inclusion data. The closing remarks by Dr. Bokhtiar Ahmed emphasized the evolving economic landscape in Bangladesh, acknowledging the role of debt in poverty alleviation. Ramesh Singh, Country Director, CARE Bangladesh, concluded the event by recognizing the collaborative efforts of stakeholders and emphasizing the importance of people and institutions coming together for effective solutions in financial inclusion. The session highlighted the need for ongoing research, orientation, and collective efforts to bridge the gap and achieve comprehensive financial inclusion in Bangladesh.