EVERY community has an aspiration for social development. If a community functions well, people lead a healthy and dignified life. Peoples' well-being is always considered important by the donor countries and organisations, respective governments and implementing agencies.
Social enterprise development is an excellent way of community development. A social enterprise means a business that is socially included and reflects well-being of society. Social enterprise development includes a host of activities like water vending business for people with limited access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation services for those with poor sanitation facilities, off-grid energy supply through solar power system to name a few. Local entrepreneurship enhancement programme will help boost water, sanitation and energy business and will be able to create new employment opportunities and ensure availability of services. Local entrepreneurs need two kinds of support -- local market development and access to finance. Many organisations especially NGOs working in Bangladesh have grass-roots networks.
These networks would be used for product channel development and tagged with entrepreneurs. Banks will pull down their shutters if someone lobbies for finance. Micro-finance institutions still offer loans with high interest rate which works as a bottleneck for entrepreneurs. In Bangladesh, cooperative societies and many other locally formed savings organisations will have the opportunity to provide finance, but in many cases, such organisations collect profit after sometime and use the same for personal gains rather than economic investment.
Community finance helps us with access to ethical and affordable finance. The way of community finance would be the way of a cooperative society, but the members of community finance committee (CFC) should have knowledge of money making process and stimulate community action.
The government may provide some amount to the CFC as block money which will be used for startup of a business. Profit gained will be reinvested to scale up business.
Monitoring of financial flow and target business activities are equally important for sustenance of the system. CFC members and entrepreneurs will analyse the customers' satisfaction and business growth on daily, weekly and monthly basis. The concept of community finance will go a long way in attracting capital into the sector and the idea should be shared with other business enterprises. There is a need to lobby for support with local government institutions that will help distribute the wealth throughout the community.
Hope for the Poorest