Association for Social Advancement

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Association for Social Advancement
Formation1978 (1978)
FounderMd. Shafiqual Haque Choudhury
TypeNon-profit,self-sufficient microfinance institution
PurposeASA programs focused at awareness-raising and group formation for the poor aiming at integrated development through asserting rights of the poor, education, mini-irrigation, primary health, credit for income generation etc.
HeadquartersDhaka, Bangladesh
Key people
Md. Shafiqual Haque Choudhury (President)
Staff (2013)

The non-governmental organisation based in Bangladesh which provides microcredit financing.


The association was established in 1978 by Md. Shafiqual Haque Choudhury and a team of people who were then working for other established NGOs,[2] but who themselves were arguing for a more radical way to alleviate the exploitation of rural villages caused by the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.[3] The founding framework of ASA was aimed at empowering rural landless villagers from the "bottom up" through "people's organizations".[3] These were run by volunteers who advocated that a consciousness for solidarity amongst the village poor would lead to collective social action.[4] ASA has currently over 5.3 million members forming different groups with special emphasis on saving practice and 21,477 employees engaged in disbursing and collecting loans and savings deposits.[5]

For many years, ASA sought to combine social development (in health, education, nutrition, and sanitation) with credit provision, but in 1991, these were abandoned, and ASA shifted its focus solely to microcredit lending.[6] This was because they wanted to stop “donor dependence” and become specialised and financially self-sufficient. Since then, it has become a fully self-sufficient microfinance institution – operating mainly in Bangladesh, but with presence in Africa and South America.[7] ASA offers financial services to including micro-credit, small business credit, regular weekly savings, voluntary savings and life insurance – and aims to follow a simple, standardised, low-cost system of organisation, management, savings and credit operations.[5]

It was initially funded by donors, then some small commercial bank loans, then low-cost loans from a subsidised wholesaler, and finally from client deposits and retained earnings. The core service has remained the low-value year-long weekly-repayment loan. ASA has not had to undergo large-scale internal reorganisation or training because the basic product and its delivery have remained largely unchanged.[8] Also, savings from clients are used to provide security against default by protecting the small loan portfolio, instead of being used in more risky ventures like raising capital.

Microfinancing model[edit]

ASA offers an alternative microfinancing model to that of the Grameen Bank. In December 2007, it placed Number 1 in Forbes Magazine's list of the world's top 50 microfinance institutions.[9] Grameen Bank placed Number 16, despite having won the Nobel Peace Prize 2006.[10]

Its flat interest rate was 15% (approximately 32% annual percentage rate) until July 1995, when it dropped to 12.5% at a time when micro-finance institution (MFIs) were coming under increasing criticism in the press for their prices.[11]

Internal organisation[edit]

ADB describes ASA as the "Ford motor model of microfinance" because of its standardisation of low-cost microfinance.[4] Its flat organisational structure consists of three tiers: a relatively small central office in Dhaka,[12] district offices, and branch offices. The branch offices are the main channel through which their core loan products are disbursed. These branches report to the district offices, who in turn report to the head office.[13]

Each of its 2,933[14] branches in Bangladesh is a self-sufficient unit, run by six people: a branch manager, an assistant branch manager, and four loan officers. The branch manager is allowed to approve all transactions within the branch, provided they meet the guidelines of an operating manual. Each branch is run as a profit centre, and is expected to fully recover costs between 9 and 12 months.[4]

Operating information[edit]

Up to June 2014, ASA's cumulative loan disbursement has been TK. 851.42 billion (US$10.95 billion) while loan outstanding (principal) was TK. 59.29 billion (US$760 million) among 4 million borrowers. As of June 2014, ASA's Operational Self Sufficiency (OSS) was 202.72%, Financial Self-sufficiency (FSS) 127.03% and rate of loan recovery 99.63%.[15] It has 20,259 staff serving more than 4.85 million clients.[14]

Impacts on Bangladesh[edit]

A 2008 study conducted by ASA's Research and Documentation Cell showed that ASA's Credit and Savings Program increased, among other outcomes, business capital, education, employment and sanitation.[16] In 2011, ASA, together with Grameen Bank and BRAC, accounted for 62 per cent of Bangladesh's 18.5 million micro-borrowers and 69 per cent of the sector's gross loan portfolio.[17]

At the industry level, overall average borrower numbers and portfolios have been rising steadily, ASA's active borrower accounts in 2008 and 2009 fell by 32 percent.[18][failed verification] This was data was analysed as a need for ASA to diversify their products and increase their quality of service.[17]

Women are the main demographic to which ASA provide their services. In 2007, 71% of services were to women.[19] Women who belong to ASA are reported to be among the least active within community and political life.[6]


  1. ^ "Welcome". ASA Bangladesh. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  2. ^ Stiles, K. (2002) International Support for NGOs in Bangladesh: Some Unintended Consequences. World Development. Vol. 30, No. 5, pp. 835–846.
  3. ^ a b Rutherford, S. (2009) The Pledge: ASA, Peasant Politics and Microfinance in the Development . New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ a b c Meyer, R.; Fernando, N. (June 2002). "ASA – The Ford Motor Model of Microfinance" (PDF). Asian Development Bank. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2004. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Barrès, Isabelle (July 2003). "Focus on Savings" (PDF). The Microbanking Bulletin (9). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b Kabeer, N., Mahmud, S. & Castro, J.G.I. (June 2010) NGO's Strategies and the Challenge of Development and Democracy in Bangladesh. (Working Paper 2010/343). Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
  7. ^ "ASA Foundation Country Focus". ASA Foundation. 2008. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  8. ^ Rutherford, Stuart (February 2008). "Managing Growth of MFIs: ASA Bangladesh – single-minded growth" (PDF). Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  9. ^ Forbes (2007) (20 December 2007). "The Top 50 Microfinance Institutions". Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  10. ^ The Nobel Prize Official Website (2011). "The Nobel Peace Prize 2006". Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  11. ^ Reinforcing provision of sustainable Energy services in Bangladesh and Indonesia for Poverty alleviation and sustainable Development (RENDEV) (30 April 2009). "Identification of Microfinance Institutions – - Bangladesh" (PDF). European Commission. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  12. ^ Wood, G.D. & Sharif I.A. (1997) Who Needs Credit? Poverty and Finance in Bangladesh. New York: St Martin's Press.
  13. ^ "Ornonogram". ASA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  14. ^ a b "ASA Overview". ASA. 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Welcome to ASA". ASA. June 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Impact Assessment". ASA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  17. ^ a b "MF Sector Operates Efficiently But Needs Product Diversity, States Bangladesh Microfinance Review August 2011". BRAC Blog. 26 August 2011. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  18. ^ Nahar, K. (26 August 2011). "Three microlenders control two-thirds of MF industry". The Financial Express, Bangladesh. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  19. ^ Shafiqual Haque Choudhury (2008). "Goodwill Message of ASA's president" (PDF). ASA – 30th Anniversary Newsletter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.

External links[edit]