Concern Worldwide, Trickle Up and MetLife Foundation to support ultra poor women in Kurigram, Bangladesh

Concern Worldwide Bangladesh in partnership with Trickle Up has initiated a three-year program named, ‘Empowering Women and Youth through Graduation and Financial Inclusion’ to continue its support to women living in extreme poverty.

This project, funded through a grant from MetLife Foundation, will work exclusively with women from ultra-poor families in the Kurigram district who will take their first transformative steps out of ultra-poverty. The program aims to support 600 families through an adapted graduation approach and increase access and usage of financial services for 12,400 women.

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MetLife Foundation has supported graduation approach since 2014. Trickle up and Concern Worldwide implemented pilots in India and Bangladesh respectively to work with and support the rural ultra-poor, especially women. The pilots in Bangladesh and India were successful as families achieved significant growth in income and livelihood opportunities.

The inception event of the project was held recently in Dhaka. Krishibid Md. Abdul Hannan, Director, Field Services Wing of the Department of Agriculture Extension, Government of Bangladesh graced the event as chief guest while government and non-government stakeholders were present during the introductory session. Helen Ware, Programme Director, Concern Worldwide, Sayeed Mahmud Riadh, Head of Programme from Concern Worldwide, Bangladesh, Md. Nurul Islam, Chairman of MetLife Bangladesh, Nepal & Myanmar and N. Ravindra, Director of Partnerships and New Initiatives at Trickle up and Virginia Ubik, Interim Asia Regional Rep from Trickle Up shared their vision and plans to improve the financial health outcomes for the ultra-poor. This was followed by a lively discussion with the larger group to exchange lessons as well as best practices.

In his speech the chief guest Krishibid Md. Abdul Hannan, Field Services Wing of the Department of Agriculture Extension, Government of Bangladesh said, “With my years of previous experience in Kurigram, I can tell you that, market linkage for the program participants is very much needed. Selection of right enterprises that are profitable; and soft skill training on these would help convert the ultra-poor people to productive human resources. I am glad that this project has the same design and shall work for their development with the intention to build their financial capacity as well. Connecting with Government’s different social safety net program for graduation is essential. At the same time, we would like to extend our technical support for farming if needed.  I hope the project will extend its support to different other parts of the country as well.”

A.K.M Musha, Country Director, Concern Worldwide said, “There are different approaches and strategies tried before in helping extremely poor people to move out of poverty. This project is unique that is built on the government social safety net programme. The success of this project would definitely contribute towards government’s initiative and make its social safety net programme more effective. We look forward to working with the government of Bangladesh and all stakeholders and make this project a success.”

Md. Nurul Islam, Chairman of MetLife Bangladesh, Nepal & Myanmar who works closely with MetLife Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MetLife, Inc. highlighted the Foundation’s commitment to enhancing financial inclusion in countries around the world including Bangladesh.

He said, “MetLife celebrated last month its 150th anniversary globally and it has a 66-year long history in Bangladesh as well. As MetLife’s oldest operation in Asia, Bangladesh features prominently in the MetLife Foundation’s support to financial inclusion here through a number of projects in association with about a dozen development partners. We believe the Foundation’s work in enhancing financial inclusion fits well in support of Bangladesh’s graduation from a Least Developed Country category to a Developing Country.  This project is a step in the right direction in our view and we are glad to be a partner in it.”

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