Sunday, July 1, 2007

Introducing: Shahobadin

This is Shahobadin, another one of the interviewers working on the project. While he is one of the most enthusiastic of the group about the microcredit research, he is also one of the most enthusiastic singers; during the training, he could often be found leading group songs. As the oldest member of the group, he is clearly a leader and is highly respected by the others. When he’s not working with us on our microcredit project and doing work with Nijera Kori, Shahobadin is a professional rickshaw-van driver (this is the vehicle pictured below – it is used as the primary mode of transporting most kinds of cargo in Bangladesh – anything from fruits and vegetables to construction equipment to furniture on moving day).

In a practice interview Shahobadin conducted during the training, one man recounted a story in which villagers worked collectively to expel BRAC from their village after coming together to decide that they didn’t like the way the organization was operating in their village. BRAC, incidentally, is not only one of the biggest microcredit organizations in Bangladesh, but it is also the largest NGO in the entire world. The man explained to Shahobadin that BRAC had formed a lending group in his village, which twenty local men joined. The twenty of them started making weekly deposits to the organization, and after a few weeks took out microcredit loans. Fifteen of them were able to repay the loans, while five were unable. The man said that BRAC then froze up all their savings, and ceased paying them interest on their deposits. This angered the villagers, who decided to get together and expel BRAC from the village. This man said that the village’s collective opposition to BRAC continues to keep the organization out of the village.

We look forward to hearing many more stories about microcredit, both positive and negative, about people’s experiences with microcredit in the Bangladeshi village. By listening to the stories of people who receive loans, we hope to gain an understanding of how microcredit programs can be best equipped to meet people’s needs.

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