Bangladesh's best bank for Microfinance 2019: ASA
Since its inception in Bangladesh in 1978, ASA has been one of the world’s great microfinance pioneers, promoters and innovators.
Each year, it extends and expands its reach in the fast-growing south Asian nation. At the end of December 2018, ASA had 3,045 branches, collectively covering 88% of a country where most families live in poorly connected rural or semi-urban areas and lack access to a formal bank account or formal lines of credit.
Over the course of the review period, the Dhaka-based financial institution disbursed Tk284 billion ($3.38 billion) in loans to more than 7.1 million individuals and small and micro enterprises.
Its return on equity was 17.26% in the second half of 2018, while its return on assets was 8.95% – respectable results for a financial institution of any size or location.
Its presence stretches across an economy that is only now being stitched together, but it tends to focus on primary industries, ranging from fishing and farming to forestry. It focuses on delivering financial services that are, first and foremost, client-friendly rather than complex.
Simplicity and reliability are at the heart of everything it does in Bangladesh. Its customers are treated as participants rather than customers, by ensuring that they take part in the decision-making.
Likewise, its branch network, while vast, is designed expressly to make banking a simple process. Customers can withdraw savings at any time, education loans are available for members’ children, and special and interest-free loans are extended, when needed, to clients affected by disaster – a regular occurrence in a low-lying country prone to floods, tornadoes and tropical cyclones.
ASA is an impressive microfinance lender providing invaluable support to millions of individuals and small companies in one of the world’s most-exciting but difficult emerging markets.