Light unto the dark | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 27, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 27, 2010

Light unto the dark

Nabila Obayed is impressed by a work on micro-finance

Beacon of Hope
A Look Into The World of Microfinance
Sabiha Mahmud Sumi

"Starting from 2003, I have been part of ASA and have taken loans of small amount like Tk.5,000, Tk.9,000, etc. This has helped us in buying coal and metal for our business.” It was the answer by Mrs. Kunja Lata to the question, “What have you gained by becoming a client of ASA?” Again, another clien,t Mrs. Chandana Sarkar, answered the same question thus, “Before ASA, we were so poverty-stricken that I was working on the streets for a single meal. With the help of ASA my family was able to recover from these situations and once again regain life.”
From these expressions we as readers can learn how the NGO called ASA is helping the needy people of Bangladesh by providing micro credit. However, you must be thinking how I have come across these exclusive interviews. Well, I have definitely collected them from a source and my source book is called Beacon of Hope. The young author of Kaleidoscope: A Compilation, Sabiha Mahmud Sumi, has come forth with her second publication, Beacon of Hope. This genius of a twelfth-grader has brilliantly compiled a work full of information that can be handy for any sort of work and study.
Microfinance “refers to a movement that envisions 'a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers.'” This is one of the explanations of microfinance that the author brings up in her book. To illustrate this concept clearly like glass, she not only provides different definitions of microfinance but from time to time she tries to define the “meaning of microcredit”. At the beginning of the book the author thoroughly sheds light on these two concepts as they are basic to an understanding of the concept of the entire book. After that, Sabiha Mahmud explores the history behind ASA's growth as an NGO, its authority chain, offered products and services, future plans vis-a-vis organization, et cetera, systematically through the various chapters.
The young author provides each and every bit of information in detail. For example, in chapter seven, she explains elaborately all the products and services that ASA provides. One of them is a small loan product both for male and female that ranges from Tk.1,000 to Tk.5,000. And, of course, the loan they get is based on their need. Besides, a reader can also find different charts that present important and comparative information. There is a chart where the year of establishment and the year of the inception of micro credit programs of different well known MFIs are given.
“BRAC works with people whose lives are dominated by extreme poverty, illiteracy, disease and other disadvantages.” This is stated by the founder of BRAC, Fazle Hasan Abed, in an exclusive interview with Sabiha Mahmud Sumi. Not only BRAC but some other MFIs as well, along with ASA's founder's experiences and opinions, have been compiled in this book, facts that are indeed as invaluable as those gifted people.
In a word, this book can be considered a point of reference on NGOs. A reader without wandering here and there can get a great deal of information from this single book. This book will be especially handy for students.

Nabila Obayed is a freelance writer.

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