Disburses interest-free loan to ultra-poor

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Banchharampur, Brahmanbaria: A new tranche of interest-free loan was disbursed Thursday among 397 ultra-poor families in Banchharampur Upazila under a new recipe of micro-credit launched by Bashundhara Foundation, a public-welfare wing of Bashundhara Group, country’s largest business conglomerate.

Some 5,000 down-and-out families are standing straight on their own foot as self-reliant ones receiving interest-free loan from the Bashundhara Foundation in 63 out of 118 villages under 13 unions of the upazila.

Under the lending programme, Bashundhara Foundation disbursed Thursday interest-free microcredits amounting to Tk 1.5 million among the 397 families, including 191 new members, at a function at Durgarampur in Banchharampur Upazilla.

Moinal Hossain Chowdhury, adviser and treasurer of Bashundhara Group and also secretary of Bashundhara Foundation, handed over the loan to the members of the poor families as chief guest.

The new members received Tk 5,000 each and the old ones Tk 7,500 each.

With the latest disbursement, the foundation has given over Tk 30.17 million in a revolving process.

The disbursement of microcredit takes place once every three months. Yesterday’s was the 26th occasion of distributing interest-free loan held at the office of the Bashundhara Foundation at Durgarampur village of Banchharampur Upazilla.

Speaking as chief guest Moinal Hossain Chowdhury said, “Bashundhara Group’s chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan wants to eliminate poverty from Banchharampur through this interest-free lending.”

As part of this plan, the project is being expanded gradually.

He said BG has made a record in realizing 100 percent amount of disbursed loan money from the recipients while the latter have made an instance of paying off total amount of their debts.

“If anybody is associated with drugs, they will not be eligible for this loan”, he said, urging loan recipients to stand united and raise voice against vices like drug abuse and acid violence.

Moinal Hossain said, “We are set to expand our programme in the whole area of Banchharampur Upazilla.”

Julekha Begum and Ayesha Begum, two recipients from Dariachar village of the Upazila, expressed their happiness for getting the interest-and collateral-free credits.

Both said, “We had taken loan earlier also. Bashundhara’s loan has saved us from the claws of dragon-like loan providers.”

Julekha Begum said, “As we are ultra-poor, we don’t get loan from banks. It is not possible for us to fulfill the conditions of loan provided by NGOs, too. Therefore, we were bound to go to lending dragons.”

They claimed those loan providers were no solution to their problems rather many people had to sell their homesteads and leave the village to pay off the loans.

Ayesha Begum said, “If we take loan from any NGO, we have to start repaying it from the next week. But we have an opportunity to pay loan taken from Bashundhara Foundation after three months. That means we can make the payment from the profits we make from doing any business within the timeframe. Besides, we are getting rid of interest.”

Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan established Bashundhara Foundation in 2005. Since then, the foundation has disbursed interest-free loan to the ultra-poor for 33 sectors of their engagement, including poultry and small trades.

The most striking features of Bashundhara Foundation loan are that the recipients do not need to bother about paying the loan in first three months. Thereafter, they are to pay the amount in 50 equal installments. They are eligible for next loan after completion of payment of previous one. Besides, this loan is collateral free.

The programme was also addressed, among others, by Maimun Kabir, AGM, Bashundhara Group, Ali Neyamat, Ambassador IPB ( International Peace Bureau) network, Geneva, Mosharaf Hossen, in-charge of Bashundhara Foundation, and Golam Alamgir, Deputy Manager (Press and Media wing), Bashundhara Group.

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