BRAC Liberia Honored “Microfinance Organization of the Year 2020”

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BRAC’s Foya staff, Lofa County

BRAC Liberia has been honored as the outstanding Microfinance Organization of the Year 2020. Its selection is based on the collection of data information and poll sampling from individuals or groups of individuals from various walks of life, including journalists and senior economist who reasoned that BRAC Liberia work and contributions to society have made transformative impact, especially helping under-privileged and venerable population groups in addressing food security during the COVID-19.

   Justifying why BRAC should be given this award, majority argued that the largest and important component of BRAC’s intervention in Liberia has been through microfinance, which has considerably improved the livelihood of thousands of Liberians.

   During the period under review, BRAC Liberia distributed 1,726 hand-washing buckets, with chlorine and detergent powder to all microfinance groups and also provided food packages to visually impaired people in Montserrado County. All microfinance staff and branches received Covid-19 protective wear and equipment, such as thermal guns, reusable masks, hand sanitizers, hand gloves, face shields, etc. 

   Also, at the height of COVID-19 outbreak in Liberia, the organization introduced a two-month moratorium which was free of interest payment, while at the same time paying 100% of staff salaries. During that period, the organization sent out SMS messages to clients informing them that there was no need to pay.

   From what has also been gathered, the organization extended its microfinance activities to Clara Town, Montserrado, and Pleebo, Maryland, with the aim of   empowering especially rural women with microloans to help them become self-supportive.

   Commercial banks give money to big clients that can afford to pay back interest in a timely manner, while BRAC is patient with its rural poor clients to pay interests on their loans. BRAC also provides training to their clients, which include pre-disbursement orientation through financial literacy, and has succeeded where others have failed.

   The company played an important role to keep up economic activity in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and was one of the participating financial institutions for the Post Ebola Reconstruction Project, coordinated jointly by the Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and funded by the World Bank.

   One such client is Pallah Masaquoi. Pallah, 50, lives in Doe Hill Community, Voinjama. She took her first loan of L$15,000 (USD 167) from BRAC in 2011. She invested her money into dry goods business. As her business grew, she took more loans and expanded further. In 2018, she established a Guest House and named it ‘Lone Star Guest House’. She was also able to save over the years which enabled her to buy two houses in Voinjama. She lives in one and have rented the other. She is a single mother with five children. Her three boys are driving cars, one daughter is engaged in cosmetic business and another daughter is studying in high school.

BRAC’s Pleebo Manager in talks with her clients

   BRAC Liberia Microfinance Company Limited is  (BLMCL) headed by its CEO, Khaled Morshed, and his team of dedicated staff, majority of whom are Liberians who have built a solid reputation in the area of microfinance, with extensive leadership experience in microfinance programs.  He has worked in several countries, including Sierra Leone, Sudan, Nigeria and Afghanistan and former Head of Operations, Humanitarian Crises Management Program at BRAC in Bangladesh.

   BLMCL started operations in Liberia in 2008 with the mission to provide financial services responsibly to people living in poverty, especially women, living in rural and hard-to-reach areas, to create self-employment opportunities, build financial resilience, and harness women’s entrepreneurial spirit. BLMCL is now the largest microfinance provider in Liberia. As of December 2020 it has almost 40,000 active borrowers, 97% of whom are women, and has disbursed over US$75 million in loans since its inception.

   According to a survey by BLMCL in 2019 (conducted by 60 Decibels using Lean Data surveys with the support of Global Partnerships), clients of BRAC noted improvements in their financial resilience in emergencies, and almost all of them stated that their quality of life has improved since engaging with BRAC. 92% of clients accessed a loan for the first time with BRAC, and 99% reported that they could not easily access a good alternative, proving the positive impact of BRAC’s services on the lives of its clients.

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