COAST is contributing to strengthen the Income Generating Activities (IGA) of the beneficiaries by providing various support service along with micro finance to them. Economic justice includes providing micro finance, skill development training, follow up and technical support to the beneficiaries. COAST is also actively trying to improve its technologically sound management system in branch level.
To reduce the paper work and workload of Program Organizer (PgO), COAST has established computerized MIS at branch level. Improving the quality of reporting, excel software has been developed by our staff and that was piloting in 10 branches. COAST management has provided necessary training & orientation of all Branch Manager, Area Manager and Regional Program Coordinator. After training computer system was established in 10 branches and now all collection sheets, report and others activity are generated through software and as a result workload is reduced of PgO and management getting error free report from branch offices. There is a plan of the organization to expand this technological support to all branches by December 2010.
Recently mobile SMS system has been established in all branches for better monitoring of microfinance program. All Branch Managers send daily MIS information to MF section of COAST Principal Office by 6.00PM through mobile SMS. This is also a software mechanism that generates a motoring report and sends to respective operational Head and Regional Program Coordinators. This SMS based monitoring report including present bank and cash balance along with daily MF activities & information that made a very easier way to monitor all branches from the centre.
Towards enhancing beneficiaries’ interest, COAST has introduced Seasonal Loan Program (SLP) specially for beef fattening since 2009. This program is being financed by Palli Karma Shohahok Foundation (PKSF) objectively for increasing the supply of Protein in market and ensuring financial benefit of the beneficiaries.
Now these SLP targets the IGAs especially beef fattening, salt production in southern belt in our country, dry fish production & processing etc, and the year 2009, the program covered 270 and 1043 beneficiaries in 2010 through disbursing loan of taka 8.4 million along with necessary training support. Now they are earning BDT 4000/month in average and seen very successful performance recovery.
Human Face In Micro Finance
Bangladesh has already been well known as a country of micro finance miracle. Some of the major Micro Finance Institutions’ (MFI) models of Bangladesh have been replicated in different parts of the world. More than seven million households have already, been brought under MF across the country. In spite of such increasing trend in last one and half a decade, MFIs have earned a lot of criticism. Major critiques are: MFIs are imposing rigid discipline in collecting installments; beneficiaries have no legal ownership over the capital of the organization- the fund accumulated as service charge, lack of accountability and transparency etc,. In MFIs, beneficiaries’ participation has been frustrating; and local issues and variations are not considered.
COAST has been trying to overcome these genuine observations i.e. striving to give its MF program a human face. COAST has introduced a soft repayment schedule in some cases for the time being, such as, one may get relaxation in repaying his/her installment for several weeks for unavoidable circumstances if the group agrees to it. In bi-monthly Program Management Meeting (PMM), representatives of the People’s Organizations (PO) take part actively at different levels of organization in the discussion and sharing on the program as well as on management related issues. Attending such meetings enable them to participate in the organizational decision making process. A flexible saving withdrawal system has already been introduced in response to clients’ need so that they can withdraw savings any time in a year. COAST has a gender sensitive approach in micro-finance. Pregnant mothers get special relaxation on repayment for three months and they can withdraw their savings during pregnancy.
At present (Nov. 2001), under the three projects, total number of COAST’s group members are 24,910 in 1074 groups. Total amount of Members’ savings is Tk 3,12,51,167, and repayment rate is 93%. The amount of outstanding is Tk. 7,20,23,617 and cumulative disbursement is Tk. 33,75,72,900. In 2001, cases of member drop out have been reduced compared to the previous year. However, reasons behind the drop out were migration, inability to give installment, reluctance of husband, far distance, sickness, deaths, dishonour to shomiti rules, family problems and so on. COAST has been operating its micro finance program in the areas where due to different geographical location and natural vulnerability, livelihood is widely different. In Kutubdia, people are loosing their lands because of river erosion and land selling rate has been decreasing while lands are more stable and economic potentials are high in Moheskhali. There is an increasing rate of land selling and purchasing in the island. In Dhalchar of Bhola, lot of economic activities is taking place through out the year, but in absence of any commercial bank micro-finance activities are facing difficulty. In the southern part of Bhola, adjacent to the embankment, group members are locally called ‘ukhraite’, who do not have own land to live and they are mostly erosion driven migrant families. Operating micro-finance with them needs different types of intervention.
COAST is committed to develop ‘a set of values’ exclusively for micro-finance program aiming to direct the program to be more pro-poor, value oriented ‘ and socially responsible business. Separate program for hard core poor is under active consideration. COAST believes that such outlook will, minimize the harshness and will give more human face to micro finance in the days to come.
Coastal Integrated Technology Extension Program (CITEP)
For the poor farmers, COAST has a plan to introduce and diversify the local initiatives and technologies those are sustainable, eco-friendly and help to extend and promote of non-pesticide agriculture titled as “Coastal Integrated Technology Extension Program (CITEP)”. Into this program the organization has deployed 28 number of technical professional in its working areas. CITEP includes cow rearing, dairy farm, beef fattening, goat keeper (black bengal) , buck station, duck & poultry keeper, model breeder (for producing fertile eggs), mini hatchery (rice husk method), AI (artificial Insemination) poultry worker, fish cultivator, homestead gardening etc. COAST has also set up two technology extension centers called “Coastal Integrated Technology Extension Centre (CITEC)”. From these centers beneficiaries are getting training and introduction of local technologies for their agriculture. Apart from these technologies the organization has also introduced some other technologies like sex pheromone, maria model, vermi-culture, goat rearing in planking system, leaf colour chart etc.
Primary Health Care
COAST MF is always working with Right Based Approach. As a part of this approach COAST is working to ensure health and family planning services to the poor and disadvantage households in Moheshkhali, Chakaria, Pekua and Kutubdia upazila under Cox’s Bazar district and Tazuladdin, Monpura, Charfession under Bhola district and Dahmina and Golachipa under Patuakhali district. This program is run by the own resources of the organization. Up to June 2010 24 nos of Traditional Birth Attendance (TBA) has been developed. Under this program COAST provides Anti Natal Care (ANC) and Post Natal Care (PNC) service and counseling, primary treatment, awareness to lactating and pregnant mothers and medicines with actual cost. In these areas government services are limited and access for all is not possible so COAST’s endeavor is to ensure minimum health care. To ensure regular health care COAST has developed 15 paramedics from the local community by providing them health care training from Gono Shastho Kendro. With this effort it is possible to reduce mother and child death rate in the working area.