Digitization of Microfinance in Bangladesh and its impact on financial inclusion

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Panel Discussion Event Organized by Southtech

Keeping up with the promise of contributing towards the betterment and prosperity of the society, Southtech organized a Panel Discussion titled “Financial Inclusion through Digitization of Microfinance” on the 29th of June at a hotel in Uttara.

The event was organized to share industry knowledge and have constructive discussion about the current situation of the MFIs in Bangladesh. It also offered valuable insights into the growing world of microfinance. It is an established fact that through the years the industry has seen tremendous growth. With time, however, the MFIs have had to deal with a lot of challenging situations. One of the most challenging part for the microfinance institutions is to find the right software vendor and go for digitization of the day to day operational processes.

The two and a half-hour-long discussion was graced by eminent members of the microfinance community and was moderated by Syed Mamnun Quader, MD & CEO of Southtech. The panel discussion was headed by Mr. Gouranga Chakraborty, MF-CIB Project Director of Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA), Mr. Md. Shafiul Alam, Senior General Manager of Sajida Foundation and Mr. Hafizul Islam, IT Coordinator of DISA (Development Initiative for Social Advancement).

MD and CEO Syed Mamnun Quader moderating the panel discussion

The event went underway with Nazmul Ahmed Najm, Chief Marketing Officer of Southtech delivering the welcome note. He briefed the guests about the agenda of the event and started off the proceedings after thanking everyone who took the time off to attend the event on a Saturday morning braving the nightmarish Dhaka traffic.

The speakers stressed the fact about how automation can empower their organizations to achieve more on a daily basis, enabling them to reach the most rural areas of Bangladesh with their microcredit services, which in turn facilitates financial inclusion in the country.

Chief panellist Mr. Gauranga Chakraborty, MF-CIB Project Director of MRA spoke about the importance of complying with the authority’s regulations and also highlighted how digitization can help in making life easier for the lenders. Mr. Chakraborty also listened to the issues currently faced by the MFIs in the country and promised of new developments.

“Sajida Foundation has been continuously innovating and trying to make processes more streamlined” – said Md. Shafiul Alam, Senior General Manager of Sajida Foundation. He also added – “Digital Financial Solutions have become the new rage in Bangladesh. But we should also keep in mind that we will also have to be open to changes”.

Mr. Shafiul also mentioned about the mobile app introduced by Sajida Foundation and explained their plan to slowly go countrywide with it. “Making the people aware of technological changes can be a challenge but it is very important that we educate everyone on how to use new technology and what benefits it brings about”.

Interactive session

Mr. Hafizul Islam, IT Coordinator of DISA added, “These days everyone has smartphones and the days of feature phones are over. The world has become smaller by the day and we as social organizations, have responsibilities towards the betterment of people’s lives who are lagging behind both financially and socially as well”.

Mr. Hafizul also enlighted everyone about ‘Aloghar Prakashana’ and ‘Matribhumi Sweets’ – DISA’s social ventures which is helping to create jobs for the poor, enabling them to become an active part in the social economy.

The attendees took part in an interactive exchange with the panellists where they asked questions and shared their valuable thoughts, which was then followed by a networking session.

Ms. Syeda Wedad Quader, Director of Southtech Group also shared her inputs on the importance of technology and hardware on the digitization of microfinance. You can watch her entire speech in the video below:

One of the highlights of the event was the launch of the whitepaper titled “SOS Signals from Six Areas that Financial Inclusion Could Rescue”. Shafia Khaled, author of the whitepaper and Marketing Coordinator at Southtech, launched the whitepaper after sharing her thoughts on the overall industry scenario. “Much of the ongoing and upcoming global crisis can be mitigated through effective implementation of microfinance. For example, what may help the refugee crisis will not help the smallholder farmers facing global climate change. Therefore, it is vital to have tailor-made solutions for each of the concerned areas if we are to ensure successful financial inclusion and understand that in doing so, it will empower an entire generation to lead a better life”.

Author of whitepaper: Shafia Khaled

Mr. Syed Mamnun Quader, MD and CEO of Southtech, expressed his views post the event, “We are happy to share this opportunity with our clients and the public. With this platform, we hoped to address and understand the scope of financial technology among MFI’s and how it is shaping the future of microfinance”. He wrapped up by thanking everyone in attendance and by stating the wish to organize such events more often.

Click here to watch videos from our panel discussion.

Click here to download the whitepaper.

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