ASA: Reflections on the Road from Politics to Finance

Date Published: 
Aug 2008
Morduch, J.

Learning from ASA'’s management strategies

This paper focuses on the success of ASA, Bangladesh.

ASA topped the list of the world’s top 50 MFIs published by Forbes Magazine in December 2007. By the end of 2007, ASA reported that they served nearly seven million women, whittled costs down to just four taka for each 10,000 taka disbursed in loans, and earned profit that were 60 percent above their costs.

ASA’s transformation into a micro-bank in the late 1980s was abrupt, but thorough. It had the following features:

  • Villagers who were once offered education and legal aid were now offered loans;
  • New model focused on giving credit, setting up bank branches, and guaranteeing on-time loan repayment rates from its poor clients;
  • Leadership never perceived a fundamental shift in their goals, but saw a deep transformation in their tactics;
  • Perception about what was possible and meaningful in the day-to-day experiences of Bangladeshi villagers brought about change.

Finally, ASA’s story throws fresh light on the role of NGOs, political mobilization and grassroots activism in creating lasting change.

South Asia