Struggling [Beggars] Members programme Print
To reach out to the beggars, Grameen Bank has taken up a special programme, called Struggling Members Programme which started from July 2002. Begging is the last resort for survival for a poor person, unless he/she turns towards crime or other forms of illegal activities. Among the beggars, there are disabled, blind, and retarded people, as well as old people with ill health.

The objective of the programme is to provide financial services to the beggars to help them find a dignified livelihood, send their children to school and to make them graduate into becoming regular Grameen Bank members. We wish to make sure that no one in the Grameen Bank villages has to beg for survival.
Ms Dhanabia the first struggling member to become a Village Phone lady proudly shows her mobile phone. It was handed over to her by Dipal Chandra Barua, Deputy Managing Director of Grameen Bank at the Pathan Nagar Chagalnaiya Branch of the Noakhali Zone in September, 2004. If we can direct this neglected echelon of society towards dignified and responsible work, then it will turn out to be one of our unique endeavours. If we can encourage the beggars to initiate self-employment activities through participation in the Struggling Member Programme then they will not have to look back.
Basic features of the programme are :
  • Existing rules of Grameen Bank do not apply to beggar members; they make up their own rules.
  • All loans will be interest-free. Loans can be of a very long term, in order to make repayment instalments very small. For example, for a loan to buy a quilt or a mosquito-net, many borrowers are paying Tk 2.00 (3.4 cents US) per week.
  • Beggar members are covered under life insurance and loan insurance programmes without incurring any cost.
  • Groups and Centres are being encouraged to become patrons of this type of members.
  • Each member receives an identity badge with her picture and name, and Grameen Bank logo. She can display this as she goes about her daily life, to let everybody know that she is a Grameen Bank member and this national institution stands behind her.
  • Members are not required to give up begging, but are encouraged to take up an additional incomegenerating activity like selling popular consumer items door to door, or at the place of begging.
As of 31st December, 2004 cumulative members under this programme reaches at 34,077, out of them 31,958 are women. All the zones have already come under this programme. By this time 1,283 branches of 128 areas have implemented the programme. So far Tk. 17.91 million has been disbursed and Tk. 5.73 million has already been repaid.
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