A pioneer NGO in urban micro finance in Bangladesh, Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women was
founded in 1992 by Humaira Islam, Ph.D. and a group of men and women committed in poverty alleviation and
bring qualitative change in the life of women living far below the poverty line. Shakti Foundation provides access
to credit and savings facilities for women living in the slums of Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayangonj, Gazipur,
Comilla, Rajshahi. Khulna, Bogura, Munshiganj, Natore, Jessore, Barisal, Pabna, Nilfamari, Feni, Jamalpur. Cox's
Bazar and other major cities of Bangladesh.
Shakti Foundation also provides the cheapest interest rate among any other non-government organization. Shakti
acts as the helping hand for the poor women residing in the slum areas, therefore they cannot take loans if the
interest rate is high. Keeping in mind their condition, the rate of interest was decided.
A poor disadvantaged woman who aspires for a better quality of life for herself and her family.
• Economic empowerment of poor women through creation of their capital and resource base.
• Social empowerment of women through leadership and capability development.
• Overall development of women as entrepreneurs, decision makers, leaders and change agents in
their families and communities.
• Integration of women in the decision making process of Shakti Foundation.
Main programs of Shakti Foundation:
• Urban Credit Program
• Business Development Services
• Small Enterprise Development
• Health Program
• Women in Development
• Major Bankers:
BASIC Bank Limited
• International Linkage:
B.W.T.P. (Banking With The Poor Network)
WWB (Women's World Banking)
INAFI (International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions)
• National Linkage:
BLAST (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust)
CUP (Coalition for the Urban Poor)
STD (Step Towards Development)
Ain O Salish Kendra
CDF (Credit Development Forum)
Humaira Islam, Ph.D. - Founder Member
Executive Director, Shakti Foundation
Mahbooba Akter Mahmood - Founder Member
Executive Director, UTSHO Bangladesh
Founder Member. Nari Pokho
Md.Khalid Shams - Founder Member
Managing Director, Grameen Telecom
Former Deputy Managing Director, Grameen Bank
Mr. Abdul Mannan Choudhury - Founder Member
Former Managing Director, Franklin Book Programs Inc.
Former Director of Administration, Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council
Dr.Q.K.Ahmad - Founder Member
Chairman, Bangladesh Unnayan Parisad (BUP)
President, Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA).
Prof.Nazrul Islam - Founder Member
Professor, Geography & Environment Department, Dhaka University
Honorary Chairman, Center for Urban Studies
Dina Ali - Founder Member
Director, Finance & Administration, Air Link Bangladesh Ltd.
Khondaker Muzammel Huq - Founder Member
Former Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University, United Kingdom
Former General Manager, Grameen Bank
Mahera Khatun - Founder Member
Chief, UNICEF field Office, Kaduna, Nigeria
Taheerah Haq - Founder Member
CEO, Publik House
Former Country Representative, ASHOKA Innovators for the Public
Professor A.K Azad Khan - Founder Member
Secretary General, Diabetic Association, Bangladesh
Md.Tafazzul Islam - Founder Member
Barrister at law, Bangladesh Supreme Court
Shireen Sckeik Mainuddin - Founder Member
Managing Director, ASAAN
Former Vice President, American Express Bank
Ms.Zakia Hasan - Founder Member
Advisor, Development Affairs, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, Dhaka
Alauddin A.Majid - Member
Former Managing Director, BASIC Bank Ltd.
Ajmeri Begum - Member
Former Asst. Director, National Saving Dept., Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh
Executive Committee Members (2005)
Taheerah Haq President
Md. Khalid Shams Vice-President
Alauddin A. Majid Treasurer
Dina Ali Member
Zakia Hasan Member
Mahbooba Akter Mahmood Member
Abdul Mannan Choudhury Member
Humaira Islam, PhD Member Secretary
Syeda Obaida Haque Deputy Director
Nazma Akter Senior Coordinator
Nazmul Ahsan Coordinator
Asma Begum Coordinator
Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation
Goutom Kumar Sarker Coordinator
Md.Shariful Islam Coordinator
Moiz Ahmed Chowdhury Coordinator
Taufiq Zahidur Rahman Coordinator
Commerce & Technology
Sabya Sachi Roy Coordinator
Information & Communication Technology
UPDATE DATA as on June 30, 2006
01 Number of Members 172,741
02 Number of Borrowers 172,741
03 Number of Groups 36,291
04 Number of Branches 143
05 Number of Districts Covered 30
06 Members' Savings Balance Tk. 638,425,800
07 Loan Disbursed Till Date Tk. 6,388,960,630
08 Loan Portfolio Tk. 971,658,090
09 Rate of Recovery 99.03%
In Women We Believe ……
The year since Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women has begun can be
characterized by one word: transition. It seems that the period of time from
September 1992 till today has been one of monumental change, both within
and outside Dhaka city. Although the altering of a predetermined pattern or a
conventional course of action can cause much friction and imbalance, the
challenge the disequilibrium creates often plants the seeds for growth and
As a whole, on Shakti Foundation's front, many transitions have occurred
during these past few years. The poor women residing in the slums wanted to
Humaira their conventional ways of lifestyle and do something
break through from Islam, Ph.D.
Founder Executive Director more inventive. Do something for themselves and their family.
At the same time, this year has been one of transition at Shakti Foundation. In October 2005 Shakti
Foundation has planned for a Business Linkage Fair to connect their members with other members in order
to expand the business of the small entrepreneurs. Linkage is a part and parcel of a business and for that
reason Shakti Foundation always gives priority to expand business of the potential member by linking of our
existing members. The main objective behind the Business Linkage Fair 2005 was to link the products among
the clients so that both buyer and seller can expand their products and promote themselves and make a
business relationship. One off transition which has been designed to create an institution that is stronger,
more agile, and more effective in response to the needs of its developing country clients. Many members of
Shakti Foundation have cut their poverty rates by more than half and have expanded access to health,
education, and social services. Far more the disadvantaged women of our society now have access to
economic opportunity than in the recent past.
In too many places the poor, most particularly women, are shut out of the opportunities that would allow
them to improve the conditions of their lives. Growth and prosperity cannot be taken for granted. In many of
the slum areas, change has not brought significant improvements to people's lives. The role of Shakti
Foundation under these conditions is to help its clients seize the opportunities, avoid the pitfalls, and for
those just beginning to make the transition to soundly managed market economies build the capacity to stay
This means we must stay close to our clients and develop our own ability to adapt to their changing needs. It
means we must be able to respond quickly to conditions on the ground, and particularly to the challenge of
post-conflict situations; create innovative new mechanisms for assisting the poorest; help build sound
market systems; and ensure that development is environmentally sustainable. If we are to be truly effective,
we must expand and deepen our partnerships with regional development banks, bilateral assistance
agencies, non-governmental organizations, foundations, the private sector, and others; and we must develop
the professional capabilities of our own staff to the highest possible level.
This Web Site shows what we have already done and where we are headed in these areas, in addition to
covering the NGO's ongoing development activities around the country. It provides the essential facts about
NGO operations in all developing districts of the country.
It is about people-the people who live in the slums of our country we serve. It is about the immeasurable
improvements that Shakti Foundation is trying to bring to people's lives only to make a difference. In the
end, this will be the gauge by which we judge our success.
The Urban Credit Program is a model through which Shakti Foundation provides services to its members. The
major activity under this model is financial interventions to poor women through credit delivery and savings
mobilization. And over the years in response to the needs of the members, some non financial services have
also been added as supplementary to the main program. Thus, what started primarily as financial
intervention has gradually become an integrated program responding to the primary needs of disadvantage
The Urban credit Program was first started in the slums of Dhaka city in April, 1992.Five years later the
success of the program encouraged its replication first in Chittagong in April 1997 and currently in many
major cities of Bangladesh such as Narayangonj, Gazipur, Comilla, Rajshahi. Khulna , Bogura, Munshiganj,
Natore, Jessore, Barisal , Pabna, Nilfamari, Feni, Jamalpur.
The urban credit program offers two broad categories of financial products to its members, namely: credit
A. Different Types of Loans and Other Financial Products
i) Different Types of Loans
General Loan: The main thrust of the urban credit program of Shakti Foundation is focused on the general
loan scheme. Micro credit ranging from Taka 5,000 to Taka 16,000 is called General Loan. General loan is
given for financing of income generating activities (IGA) by project members. A member is entitled to repeat
loan after the repayment of all installments. The loan term is 50 weeks and the interest payable is 12
percent per annum (flat rate).
Business Loan: Business loan was introduced in Shakti Foundation in December 1995 with the objective to
facilitate members to scale up their businesses. A member after completing 2 loan cycles is able to access a
business loan amounting from Taka 1601 up to Taka 50,000 under group guarantee. The loan term is 50
weeks and the interest payable is 15 percent per annum (flat rate).The repayment is made in monthly
installment, it could be 12 month or 24 month set be the requirement of the clients.
Small Enterprise Development: During recent times, Shakti realized that some of the members have the
potential to be successful entrepreneurs and if they get proper guideline and extra money, they will be able
to run and expand their businesses more successfully. To meet the need of these clients, Shakti recently
introduced small enterprise development loan (without any guaranty from the group or the center). The
member herself is responsible for her loan amount. Members with the above mentioned characteristics and
who are at least 2nd cycle borrowers, have good reputation in the group and center and who have good
repayment history on all their previous loans are eligible for the loan. All the other methodologies are the
same as Business Loan, but repayments are being made in monthly installments. Unlike other loans, the
disbursement and recovery of individual loan are made through formal banking system. The amount starts
from Taka 50,000 and above.
Housing Loan: Recently Shakti Foundation has introduced housing loan to their members. Housing loan will
be provided only to individual members of Shakti Foundation who has land in her own name or to some
extent it may be jointly owned with her husband or other family member. The amount of Housing Loan
ranges from Taka 70,000 to Taka 500,000 subject. Loan amount will be variable according to area and size
of land. Interest rate is 14% per year.
Seasonal Loan: This product was introduced 1996 in order to meet seasonal financial requirements of the
project members. It has a loan term of 25 weeks and the interest rate is 15% per annum. Seasonal loan
helps women to inject additional working capital in the business when demand for the commodity or product
is high. This loan is given during festivals particularly during EID and Puja. There are two categories of
(i) Seasonal Loan1: The amount is Taka 1,000. (ii) Seasonal Loan 2: The amount is Taka 5,000.
Health Loan: This is an interest free loan given to all project members and their children since 1994, so that
she can meet expenses related to the treatment of serious illness. The amount of loan and terms of payment
of the health loan is flexible and is decided upon by the member herself in consultation with other members
of her center.
Emergency Loan/ Durjogkalin Loan: Emergency loan was launched in 1998.This is also an interest free
loan given to all project members affected by disaster both natural and man made. A maximum of Taka
1,000 is given to the members as Emergency loan in order to mitigate the immediate suffering of members
caused by fire in slums, eviction and flood. The loan is used for buying food, clothing and household assets.
The term and repayment method of the emergency loan is decided upon by the member herself in
consultation with other members of her center.
Consumption Loan: Consumption loan is given to purchase household items and any other things that is
needed to establish social status of Shakti's member .Members who have been in the organization for three
years can get access to this loan. Consumption Loan will be given not in cash but in kind.15% interest will be
charged on this loan. The term of this loan is maximum for 3 years. Loan amount ranges from Taka 5000 to
Taka 25,000.Repayment schedule is monthly basis.
Ramzan Special Loan: Members may borrow up to Taka one thousand to earn quick money by selling
snacks during the time of Ramzan. This is a short term loan with a very low interest rate.
ii) Other Financial Products
Leasing Loan: This innovative product was introduced in 1999 to give equipment support to expanding
enterprises. It enables entrepreneurs to acquire necessary working equipment through leasing and use their
loans as working capital. The lease period ranges from 50 weeks to 150 weeks. The interest payable is 15
percent per annum.
Life Insurance: This financial product was introduced in January 1999. Upon the death of any project
member, her nominee receives up to Taka 5000 as life insurance.
B. Savings Schemes:
Shakti Foundation offers a number of savings schemes to its members. The small weekly savings deposits
accrue over time and create a resource base which poor members can use as social security or old age
insurance. As one member had once said in a workshop on savings “my savings is my life insurance…I will
never give it to anybody no matter what the pressure to withdraw it…”
Personal Savings (Nijer Tohobil): Members save Taka 20 every week at the center meetings. Members can
withdraw their entire savings with interest when they decide to leave the organization.
Business Savings: All members save at the rate of 5 % of their total loan amount at the time of receiving
General and Business Loan. The fund promotes financial security among the peer groups. Members can take
back their savings with interest in the group fund when they decide to leave the organization.
ii) Funds for Members:
A number of funds have been created to respond to the various needs of the members:
Health Loan Fund: One fourth of the centre savings and donor's grant comprise to make the health loan
fund. This fund acts as a revolving loan fund for the health loan.
Client Welfare Fund: In 1998 the client welfare fund was created with surplus interest income from
member savings deposits. Member savings are invested in long-term deposit schemes usually at 8% interest
rate. Members are paid the Sonali Bank savings rate of 5.75%. The spread is transferred at the end of each
financial year to the client welfare fund which varies with the STD rate of Sonali Bank. This fund acts as a
revolving loan fund for the emergency loans and also is a source of fund for Shakti's relief activities. It may
be mentioned here that this is a dedicated fund for the welfare of the beneficiaries of the organization only
and under no circumstances will be used for the organization and its employees.
Security Deposit: A separate saving scheme called Security Deposit has been created so that the members
can save money. Every week all the members of Shakti Foundation contribute Taka 5 as a security deposit.
The Security Deposit program has been introduced so that upon the death of a member, her nominee will
receive up to Taka 5,000 from the security deposit. This scheme is also applicable if the member's husband
dies, then the member will receive the above amount.
In the last one decade many members have taken repeat loans from Shakti Foundation and have scaled up
their business from survival/ informal enterprise levels to micro and small enterprise levels. In response to
the need of this new class of entrepreneurs, a special unit was created to provide services that would
promote business skills of poor women enable women entrepreneurs to manage and control their businesses.
One of the main activities of this unit is training on business management. The curriculum of the training is
very simple and user friendly which teaches women members about business planning, marketing and simple
accounting and book keeping.
An innovative step to ensure practical application of lessons given in the training has been the development
of a class of trainers from among project members.
This body was set up to develop a group of expert trainers (BDS trainers) from among successful business
women who are members of the organization. The committee consists of 51 members. The committee has
the following functions: (1) Provide business management training to members willing to take business
loans, and (2) Acts as mentors to other women wanting to scale up their businesses (3) make annual
training plan, (4) monitor whether participants are keeping books of accounts.
BDS Management Training:
3 different levels of training are provided to member for the different kinds of loan, General Loan, Business
Loan and Small Enterprise Development (SED) Loan.
Provide basic idea about profit and loss
Make projections and planning for business expansion
Enable women to retain their business and keep control of it
Knowledge about the business
Capital of business
Market for the product
Whether business will be profitable
Capability to take risk
Training is important so that the women are self-employed and does the business herself. She must have
market information and should be able to calculate business risk and keep regular accounts information. In
the inception of the program more than 10,000 women have taken this training. The need of this service is
evident from the fact that women who have received this training have expressed satisfaction with lessons
learnt, and the fact that there is demand from their peers for business management training.
The training is a very important tool which women may use to manage their business, keep control of the
enterprise as it grows in volume and in the process become financially strong and economically empowered.
Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women envisaging to involve potential women in Small and Medium
Enterprises (SME). These potential women may have sole endeavor to do business or they may do business
with the collaboration of their husband. Shakti's prime objective is to patronize women to be entrepreneur so
that they can become significant contributor in their family vis-à-vis society which will ultimately bolster our
Keeping this on the forefront is its thinking process Shakti introduced a new scheme called ‘Small Enterprise
Development (SED) in 2004. The objective of SED is to provide opportunities to project members in order to
enable them to enter into small and medium markets.
Potential women entrepreneurs (small and medium) either individually or jointly
Excellent nature of business
Large volume of turnover
Number of employees working
Potentiality of business
Ability to cope with further investment
Marketing area along with the ability and experience of
Member and their family members or business partners
Counseling to expand business
Arrangement of backward and forward linkages
Exploring new marketing areas and so on
Other service related activities, etc.
The project members of Shakti Foundation are women who live in slums and squatters in extremely
unhealthy and unhygienic conditions. These densely populated slums give rise to a number of communicable
diseases like tuberculosis, skin infections, whooping cough, worm infestations, etc. But, many of these
diseases can be prevented with health education and through awareness building. Many women do not go to
male doctors and often the consequence is fatal. The high morbidity rate and birth related mortality rate in
the slums can be prevented with early detection and timely treatment. Moreover, most treatment is costly
and in poor households, women's illness and treatment get least priority.
With this perspective at the background and with the objective to provide quick services and quality
treatment at minimal cost, the organization started the health program in January 1997.
The main Objectives of this program are as follows:
i. To make project members health conscious by giving health education
ii. To provide quality treatment at minimal cost
iii. To provide easy access of health service to all project members.
The main activities of the health program are:
In the weekly Kendro meetings the members are taught about personal hygiene, prevention of
communicable diseases, diarrhea, skin diseases, female diseases, family planning, safe motherhood,
immunization, etc. The main objective of this education is to create health consciousness among the
members. The health workers and the health communities' members disseminate health education at field
level. the medical Officers (Doctors) at periodic intervals visit Kendro meetings in order to discuss with the
members about issues related to health and hygiene. They also train one representative of each Kendro
twice a year on health education. The representative then teaches the other members.
Qualified female doctors have been recruited for check up and primary treatment of the members. It has
been observed that the program has achieved much greater success than it had been anticipated at the
beginning. It is mandatory for all Shakti members to register with the health program. Patients who require
specialized treatment or surgery are referred to government and private hospitals.
The members pay Taka 25 for health registration, which is compulsory. They can consult the doctors five
days a week at the health centers, which are located in their respective Branch Offices. For each visit they
pay Taka 5 as consultation fee. Community women also can visit Shakti's Doctor, in that case the visit fee
would be Taka 10.
This approach towards health program is to motivate members to seek medical advice at an early stage,
where as due to ignorance and lack of medical service nearby, they usually seek doctor's help at critical
stage of illness. To increase coverage and facilitate health services directly to project members in far away
slums Satellite Clinic has been set up in many areas.
Loan for Emergency Treatment
The emergency Loan of Shakti Foundation is designed to help members meet costs related to their
emergency treatment including surgery. The loan is interest free. The member is free to decide the
repayment scheme, that is, the member decides the amount she wishes to pay per installment and also the
number of installments required for the full repayment.
The Health Committee is in charge of verifying and following up the utilization of the Health Loan. There are
26 people working in the Health Committee and there are a total of 149 Health Committee members.
Branches that have Health Unit have one health committee and each Health Committee comprises of 6
project members. The Committee meets once a month to discuss various health issues. The doctors and
health workers are also present during these meetings. The health committee members are mainly
responsible for delivering health education messages at the field level.
One of the additional Services provided by the health program is to sell medicines to the members at lower
price. Also, the Health centers are open to non project members(Female patients of all ages and male
patients up to the age of 12) including family members pay Taka 10 per visit as consultation fee. Shakti
doctors also provide referral services to all patients.
The Vaccination Program has been setup only in our Lalbagh Branch. This program has been mainly targeted
for children who are under the Age of 5, and needs vaccination.
All the branches that has the Health Unit, distributes Oral pills, inject-able and condoms to its members at a
lower price than the market price. Family planning education is also conducted in order to raise awareness
among the members.
The underlying principle on which Shakti Foundation was founded is the belief that poor women have in them
the potential to change their status within the family and in the wider social sphere. In the context of the
organization's vision, poor women are perceived as active agents of change and given opportunities they will
override social norms, traditional beliefs, and cultural values that create prejudice against women's rights
The gender program addresses women's empowerment as a specific issue and interventions have been
designed to foster conditions in which women would be able to play their social roles. The weekly Kendro
meeting is the platform which is used to discuss the disadvantaged position of women in the family and
society and the ways peer can work together to strengthen their status.
Gender training is given in Kendro meeting by the members wherein women are made aware of the
importance of self employment and loan utilization by women themselves. With every loan that is passed on
to another person, the woman looses the opportunity to earn an income and exploit her own potentials for
changing her present life into one which she wants to live. Member trainers tell their peers the necessity of
book keeping and direct access to market if they want to retain control of the businesses particularly when
their businesses expand.
The gender program gives a very simple and clear message to the project members and staff of the
organization. The message is: the microfinance program is the instrument which women will use for
empowering themselves. Empowerment will take time and it is a process which needs commitment. It is
difficult to measure empowerment but its qualitative values will be reflected through women's ability to make
decisions, higher mobility, participation in processes and issues that are of interest to them, and finally and
most importantly members' involvement in projects that have been designed for their benefit. ‘The loan that
I withdraw is mine and I will not give it to anyone. I will use it to earn my living and for my empowerment.'
This innovative body has been set up to train project members as leaders and change makers. The
committee is comprised of 115 members in small groups of 10-15 women and forms the link between project
members and staff in the branch offices. The committee has two functions: (1) to provide gender awareness
training to their peers (2) meet with branch staff to discuss matters related to program implementation.
This higher body is composed of 10 members elected by the primary committee members from among
themselves. In addition to gender awareness, the committee members are trained on matters relating to
business expansion and small enterprises. Central Committee has four functions : (1)Work as mentors to
primary committee members, (2) provide training on business expansion, (3) meet with senior management
staff to discuss matters related to program implementation and other issues that has policy implications for
the organization. They only exchange opinions about how certain circumstances can be made better and
improved and (4) Member's of Shakti or their relatives who are being assaulted and violated are helped by
Shakti in order to provide them with fair justice. Shakti searches for these women and then takes them to
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Ain O Salish Kendra for a fair law and order.