Transcript of Roundtable Dialogue in Bangladesh

Microcredit Summit in Dhaka

Groundbreaking meeting between microcredit recipients, lenders and regulators, hosted in June 2010.

We are pleased to share the recently compiled transcript from the "Listening to the Experiences of Microcredit Recipients" roundtable discussion that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 21, 2010.  This groundbreaking summit was the first dialogue between microcredit recipients, lenders and regulators in Bangladesh and is leading to new, more recipient-focused policies at the National Level.  

The dialogue was facilitated by our partner Khushi Kabir, Coordinator of Nijera Kori, who opened the dialogue by stating "Sometimes both sides become defensive while discussing the positive and negative impacts of micro-credit. To avoid this situation, we are calling upon all of you for an open and civil discussion."

Important quotes from the unedited transcript include:

[quote]We talked to the micro-credit recipients and came to know about their plight. I have seen their silent tears. The crude cycle of paying installment (kisti) begins from within one week of taking the credit. The poor cannot even have three meals a day, cannot properly feed their children but they must return back the installment. Otherwise, NGO employees come to snatch away cattle, do verbal abuse and sexually harass the female credit-recipients and so many other things. The pain of paying installments within just one week of taking loans detracts the members from pursuing other pleasures of life, like buying even a fruit for the children."[/quote]

- Hosne Ara, Community Researcher

[quote]Generally, credit is given in the name of the woman. The credit agencies do not grant credit if there is not a woman residing in the household. This is why male members of our homes or husbands sometimes force us to take credit. But, if we take credit, we have to hand it over to our husband or father-in-law who uses it in any way he wishes. But, the NGO employees come to recover the money from us (women) and we have to face many insults and indignities ... It is the men who spend the money. But, payment of installment is sought from the women. We talk of women before all and talk of empowerment, but women are used within the traps and labyrinths of micro-credit."[/quote]

- Kohinoor Begum, Community Researcher

[quote]Women are deprived of their rights. Since women have begun taking micro-credit, oppression on her has multiplied. The evil practice of dowry became manifold. Because of micro-credit, social solidarity in villages is at stake."[/quote]

- Kohinoor Begum, Community Researcher

[quote]One has to take a loan from a NGO to repay the installment of another NGO. Thus we are getting entrapped in debt cycles."[/quote]

- Nurul Islam, Community Researcher

[quote]This is the first time that the community researchers have conducted research on their own. And, we could hear the content of their research directly from them."[/quote]

- Lopita Haque, BRAC Development Institute

[quote]Thanks for giving me the opportunity to directly talk with those for whom I am working ... This is the first time I heard their direct experiences. If the slightest portion of the facts revealed in this workshop are true, then it is surely alarming. We have a policy problem at the state level from top to bottom."[/quote]

- Lila Rashid, Director, Micro-credit Regulatory Authority of Bangladesh

[quote]... [microcredit] is for 'public benefit.' Public benefit cannot be measured only through the 'recovery rate.' Rather it should really benefit the target people for whom the micro-credit scheme is designed."[/quote]

- Iftikharuzzman, Executive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh

[quote]Generally, we evaluate micro-credit from the viewpoint of outcomes and numbers and look for empirical ends, but we ignore the social process. But the social process is a huge pressure in itself."[/quote]

- Dr. Dina Siddique, Senior Associate. Womens Studies Centre, University of Pennsylvania

[quote]Problems that existed during that time still exist and will continue to exist ... But, we want it to be limited within an acceptable number and to be addressed through discussion and limitation. We do often hear the problems, which have been discussed in today's round-table. We hear such complaints every time."[/quote]

- Azim Hossain, ASA

How can the hard-core poor pay the interest within one week of taking micro-credit? He cannot pay it without selling his assets. And, when a poor man or woman sells his or her asset, it is not a proper sale. But it becomes a 'forced sale' or 'distress sale.' S/he does not get the proper price for it. Does micro-credit accelerate the process of 'distress sale' for the poor? In my opinion, yes, it does."

- Professor Abul Barkat


Click to download the entire transcript.