Introducing technology to poor families
Improve living standards of people below the poverty line through provision of diverse economic, educational and information services.
About Your Organization
Pakistan, P, Lahore
Country where this project is creating social impact
Pakistan, 10 Districts
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
Asasah has been certified that Asasah is meeting Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) Certification Standards of both Basic & Advance levels. The certification has been issued by Grameen Foundation US. Receiving this certification, Asasah has become First Microfinance Institution (MFI) in Pakistan, and 15th in the world that is using Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) maintaining its all standards;
Asasah has been bestowed with Gold 2010 from MIX/CGAP Social Performance Reporting Award. In 2009 Asasah received Silver Award for reporting on Social Performance to MIX. The award powered by MIX is designed to promote greater transparency in Microfinance Institutions;
Asasah’s member Nargis Bibi won 7th Citi-PPAF Micro-entrepreneurship Award 2010 in National Entrepreneur Category. Earlier in 2009, Kausar Parveen one of our member entrepreneurs has won 6th Citi-PPAF Award in Provincial category'
Italy based International rating organization Microfinanza studied Asasah Social Performance i.e. the effective translation of an institution's mission into practice in line with accepted social values. Asasah was awarded the Social Rating Grade BB-in 2010.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
Access, Cost, Transparency, Quality.
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
The opportunity costs for the members (who are using microfinance services from Asasah) is getting higher, both in terms of time and money;
Transparency in serving community by field staff had been deteriorating;
Repayments by the members (borrowers) had been utilized either by the Group Leader or Credit Officer
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Asasah decided to experience the Branchless Banking mode of service delivery in its micro-credit operations. Asasah opted Tameer Microfinance Bank and Telenor Pakistan's channels for serving its members.
Asasah started disbursing loan amount to an individual member by providing her ATM card (of Tameer Bank). In other words when a micro-loan is sanctioned to a poor entrepreneur, her bank account has been opened with the Tameer Bank with zero minimum balance requirement. Similarly, she is using Easy Paisa Shop outlets of Telenor Pakistan (near to her home) to repay her instalments to Asasah.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
When it started its operations, the organization was disbursing loan amount and collecting repayments in cash. As it grew, it was felt that cash transaction proved risky both for clients and staff. At that time Asasah introduced payments and repayments through bank. Though, this procedure avoided risk of cash embezzlement by the staff, however resulted in inconvenience and high opportunity costs for clients.
Prior to switching to branchless mode of service delivery, multiple training sessions to educate field staff and members (beneficiaries) on reasoning and method of using branchless channels ere conducted; manuals and orientation/awareness material in local language was developed; and on-the-spot training sessions of beneficiaries at the events of disbursements and repayments were hold frequently. The very first time our target group enjoyed pride of having and using ATM cards and receiving currency notes from an ATM vending machine. Prior to this the had just been watching advertisement on television on this method of money transactions. Similarly, they never thought of repaying the money through a vendor near to their homes and getting receipt.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Asasah is the first Microfinance Institution in Pakistan who piloted and then adopted branchless banking model. Seeing its success now many microfinance institutions are adopting this method.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
It was irritating for the organization that expansion of its operations were demanding controls, but such controlling mechanism adopted by the organization was creating high opportunity costs for its beneficiaries. Such result was against the mission of Asasah, because the organization was founded on the premise that beneficiaries would be served at their door-steps with three operation principles i.e. Standardization, Simplicity and Speed. And this had been compromised. Use of technology in Banking sector (that don't serve poor) made us realize that though illiterate our members are yet this may be the best speedy, standard and simple way to opt. This may help them getting used to technology in financial sector and further streamlining with it. While designing this intervention, there was a huge resistance among the management who thought that illiterate members would not be switched to technology, but results proved them wrong.
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Asasah envisions that its members (poor entrepreneurs especially women) would be using mobile phones for money transactions. In other words by only using their fingers on a cellular device they have been served at their door-step.
Which barrier(s) to financial inclusion does your solution seek to address? (select all applicable)
Physical and other accessibility obstacles that prevent communities from reaching financial services, The lack of affordable financial products tailored to the needs of underserved and excluded communities,.
If you selected 'other' above, please specify which other barriers to financial inclusion you solution seeks to address:
For which underserved or excluded communities will your solution create access to valuable, affordable, secure and comprehensive financial services?
Asasah serves only to the segment of population who are below the national poverty line. We are using Progress out of Poverty (PPI) toll to measure their poverty status. PPI, a poverty measurement tool, is developed by the Grameen Foundation US and we are the only and one organization in Pakistan who is using this tool for poverty targeting and measurement and are certified on its both basic and advance levels of standard by Grameen Foundation US.
Could your solution work in other geographies or regions? If so, where?
Since we are aiming at providing financial solution to poor on a cellular device therefore, all over Pakistan where traditional banking service and cellular service is available this solution work. Cellular mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan have reached 118,316,916 by adding 2.1 million subscribers (2,107,176 subscribers to be exact) in March 2012. On the other hand there is a large network of Easy Paisa Shops i.e. more than 100,000 outlets in the country.
If your solution is dramatically successful, how will things be different in 10 years?
It can be easily claimed all microfinance institutions in Pakistan will be serving their clients through branchless mode of service delivery.
What will have had to have changed to make this happen?
Speed, simplicity and standardization are the factors that force this change to have had happened.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
To date 100 percent (over 12000) of our beneficiaries have bank accounts and ATM cards and more than 84000 family members have been educated on this mode of financial transaction. Opportunity costs of clients have been decreased remarkably, as in disbursement it is decreased by 13 percent while in repayments it is decreased by 81 percent.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
All our client will be using cellular phone service for all their transactions i.e. loan, repayments, savings and utility payments.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Only technical barriers have been causing delays in service delivery and have been resolved simultaneously. With the passage of time such technical barrier would be removed.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
All our borrowers are using ATM Cards and all credit groups are repaying through EasyPaisa Outlets
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Tell us about your partnerships
Kiva (a web based lending organization), First Elite Capital Modarba (FECM), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) are providing Funds (credit line) to Asasah. While Plan International Pakistan, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation are our partners in soft services. The Tameer Microfinance Bank and Telenor Pakistan (cellular company) are our vendor-partners in branchless banking. Asasah is member of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) as its Board Member.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list