Grameen Byabosha Bikash[Grameen Business Promotion] began in March 2001, to promote small enterprise ventures and meet the demand of GB borrowers who wanted to scale up their businesses. It currently operates in every GB zone. Besides providing loan guarantees, for which it charges a 5% premium above the GB rates, it also provides valuable business services, skills training, and technical assistance, which is provided free of charge.By April 2005, GBB had issued 152,276 loan guarantees for US$ 89.55 million, of which US$ 39.97 million has already been repaid (US$1 = Tk60). GBB has so far organized 72 hands-on training programs: 28 on dairy farming, 28 on poultry and 16 on fisheries, and trained 1,440 members, 720 GB staff besides its ownfield staff.
This year GBBorganized two livestock camps in Bogra where 400 heads of cattle were vaccinated by the local district livestock officer. GBB also provides loan guarantees to Grameen Bank’s Struggling (beggar) members. Besides GB members, all GBB loan guarantees and services are also extended to the children of the members who have received GB’s student loans. GBB organized six mobile phone repair and maintenance training workshops for the members’ children. Already 39 of the 44 who received training have started their mobile phone servicing businesses.
Sarwar Rahman took advantage of the GBB policy to extend credit services to the Grameen children. His mother Sufia Begum has been a Grameen Bank member for over 11 years. Sarwar, a bright student, had scored “star-marks” (grade A in all exams) in both 10 th and 12 th grade national exams. When he enrolled to study Fisheries and Marine Resources Technology at the Khulna University, his poor parents could not afford his expenses. Sarwar took out a US$ 1,200 student loanfrom Grameen Bank. To supplement his income while at the university, he began tutoring other students at a “coaching center.” Coaching centers are lucrative businesses in Bangladesh. In 2003, Sarwar and a friend leased a franchised coaching center in Khulna city. That business went so well that in 2004, Sarwar, then studying in the fourth year at the university, decided to buy a coaching center franchise for himself. He had saved US$ 1,700 from his various tutoring jobs. GBB gave him another US$ 1,700 under small enterprise loan guarantee to get the loan from Grameen Bank to buy his own coaching center. Now he earns more than US$ 5,000 a year from his own coaching center.
Ms. Saleha Begum, Managing Director, GBB, is optimistic about the organization’s future plans. Noting GBB’s popularity among the GB members, she said that GBB has plans to expand its loan guarantees and services to half a million GB members by the end of 2005.