Geographic focus: Bahrain
Thematic focus areas supported by the mechanism:
Establishing microfinance activity within two women-based NGOs, and created an enhanced environment for equitable job creation and sustainable economic growth by increasing the number of NGOs managing microfinance initiative with focus on targeting youth and women entrepreneurs
Steps/stages in practical application of the mechanism:
The Microfinance project (previously Micro-Start) was first initiated in 1999. As a new solution to include productive families into an institutional mechanism, whereby the participating family member becomes an entrepreneur, a new culture in a much more organized manner was developed. NGOs participating in the programme were subject to intense trainings, and manuals were developed to facilitate the process. As a result of almost a decade of support to the line ministry and NGOs, the Bahrain Central Bank of Bahrain has finally added a chapter on (Microfinance) officially regulating the industry. As such, two Microfinance Banks were established based on the availability of such regulation.
Results to Date:
The project, as a mechanism, has been implemented in Bahrain as part of a global UNDP/UNCDF initiative implemented in around twenty five countries worldwide. Through the participating NGOs, the project had reached out on aggregate to more than 7000 clients of which almost 50% or more are women and the same percentage for youth (under 45 years). Also, the two Women-based NGOs have achieved operational selfsufficiency with reasonable PAR indicators.
In an independent “Microfinance Market Research” study conducted on the project, women entrepreneurs accessing loans expressed a major change in their lives; now demanding access to convenient savings products to maintain the real value of their cash savings. Based on interviews with female clients and stories of success, women became more able to decide on their future, benefit their children in terms of food quantity and quality, access to health and education. The empowerment also reached NGOs that offer microcredit; now changed from a simple charity- based organization to a coherent management structure with proper institutional and market image.
UNDP and other Government line ministries in the Kingdom are examining the merits of utilizing the success created through access to Microfinance services for women to use the same venue in working with “Youth” within the age bracket of 15 – 29 years. Although the microfinance project outreach is more than 50% to borrowers under 45 years, the envisioned initiative would concentrate on an upper age bracket of 29 years. With a reconnaissance survey, the initiative should be able to depict in a clear manner the needs and wants of the Bahraini Youth and would blend financial with non-financial and coaching/advisory services needed by youth in building their lives.
Most Recent Annual Budget (USD): 340,000
Total Budget (USD): 730,280
Focal Point and Contact:
Ali Salman Programme Section
UNDP Bahrain - P.O. Box 26814
Manama - Kingdom of Bahrain
Tel: +973 39766366