Message from the Chairman
For 25 years, PKSF has been involved in diverse programmes to reach the people at large to help raise their abilities and interests to play their parts properly in activities supported by the PKSF, now increasingly being designed taking into account their concerns and needs as expressed by themselves. Indeed, the PKSF’s overall purpose is to create conditions for the people to move ahead not only in economic terms but also in social terms and in terms of increased capacity to deal with environmental problems. All PKSF staff are mindful about their respective responsibilities as they are required to discharge those responsibilities efficiently and with dedication, supporting the POs and enabling the participants to make the possible best endeavours towards the uplift of the socio-economic conditions of the participants.
Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen has talked about Bangladesh’s notable progress, particularly in social sectors as being much superior to any other country of South Asia including India. The Economist has written a major article highlighting Bangladesh’s exceptional socio-economic achievements and so has the British daily The Guardian. The World Bank and the IMF have also recognized the remarkable successes in poverty reduction and social sector advancements in Bangladesh during the past several years. Indeed, Bangladesh has continued its forward march despite the global financial meltdown in 2008 and the following global recession. In addition to those difficulties, Bangladesh has also been fighting natural disasters of one type or another, which are becoming more frequent and devastating in the wake of intensifying climate change. A rough estimate shows, if the country was not afflicted by the consequences of natural disasters, the economic growth rate could have been higher by up to 2 percentage points.
Bangladesh’s achievements in relation to primary and secondary education in terms of, for example, expansion of education and achieving gender equality, poverty reduction, with MDG target have already bettered; child, infant, and maternal mortality rates; rejuvenation of the rural economy including both agriculture and various non-agricultural activities; major thrust Annual Report 2013 forward in the ICT sector, reaching most of the lowest administrative units, namely Union Parishads, ICT-based information
centres have been set up; fast expanding exports, particularly of RMGs; remittances reaching about US$14 billion a year; and foreign exchange reserve reaching a record US$18 billion are some of the highlights of Bangladesh’s notable and steady forward march. The wage rate in rural areas has in recent years reached, in terms of rice, a record level of 9 to 10 kgs per day. The PKSF is, in fact, a significant player, particularly in rural areas, both in relation to agriculture and multifarious nonagriculturalactivities.
The PKSF learns from its own experiences as well as from available new ideas and ground realities. Accordingly it adjusts, reorients, redesigns, and changes its programme portfolios and its contents and the methods of implementation. Its vision is now firmly grounded on creating conditions for achieving human dignity by all citizens of the country. Hence, it is not just income poverty but all aspects of human life and dignity are now kept sharply in focus in designing its programmes and activities.
The PKSF, therefore, no longer provides funds to MFIs to implement microcredit programmes only. Indeed, financing is important; but it is now being tailored more to meeting the requirements of people so that they can build on their achievements and move forward, breaking out of poverty trap and addressing various constraints faced as they move up beyond poverty. But, the PKSF is now increasingly focusing on promoting integrated approaches to human development. In this approach, financing is one of the key elements among various others such as education, training, health services, sanitation, proper utilization of available assets, expansion of ownership of assets, food security and nutrition, access to information relating to market and technology, institutions, infrastructure, mobilization of social capital, and so on.
Within the framework of this fundamental shift in vision, the PKSF has initiated the integrated programme ENRICH in 43 unions of the country. Starting with 14 Unions in 2010, it has so far reached 43 in three phases. The performance is monitored regularly and we are happy to report that significant achievements have already been made in the 1st phase-Unions. There exists a great deal of enthusiasm among the people with regard to ENRICH. In order to secure an unbiased assessment of the way the approach has been conceptualized, the manner and methods of its implementation and the results being achieved, an external evaluation has recently been commissioned. The report is expected in about six months.
The PKSF does not work directly with the people. It works through its Partner Organisations (POs). In the field, therefore, the POs work with the people, but PKSF officials keep a close watch on how things are shaping up and moving at the field level. In the case of ENRICH, the Union Parishads are also involved in advisory capacity. The overall partnership in ENRICH, therefore, includes the PKSF, the POs, the Union Parishads, and the programme participants, i.e. the people who join the programme with a view to improving their own lot and, in fact, thereby contribute to national development.
The PKSF has been diversifying its financial services in terms of both the size and the terms of repayment. It is no longer just weekly repayment-based microcredit, which is increasingly being deemphasized. Depending on the realities on the ground, repayment of the amount of money lent and the service charges can be monthly, six monthly, even yearly or after a longer period. Naturally, there are issues to be addressed as such changes are introduced and expanded.
Education and health services are available with all PKSF programmes. The POs are now mandated to spend 10% of their net annual surpluses on education and health services. Many POs have reached the target and others are working towards it. This is being done because the PKSF and the POs agree that it is the human capability that crucially determines how an individual may make the best use of the available opportunities and resources, in addition to human quality upgrading.
In fine, let me express my gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for the support we have been receiving. In particular, we are grateful to Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who kindly inaugurated the PKSF Development Fair 2013 and encouraged us by appreciating our work and giving guidelines relating to further strengthening of our programmes in the context of promoting human development, particularly focusing on the poor and the disadvantaged. I also want to thank Hon’ble Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith for his keen interest in the work of PKSF and his support to it. Let me put on record my thanks to our Development Partners for their support to it.
I am thankful to the members of the General and Governing Bodies of PKSF for their support and contribution. I am appreciative of the efforts of our POs in implementing the programmes efficient and quality services to the programme participants. Last but not the least, I commend all colleagues at PKSF for their hard, committed and honest work, so crucial to ensure the purposeful journey of PKSF towards realizing its vision and mission.
Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad