Starting its journey as a microcredit organisation in the early 1990s, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSP) has now turned into a human development body by reshaping its methodology to ensure human dignity by reducing poverty and inequality.In a recent interview with UNB, PKSF chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad narrated how the apex development organisation over the years reshaped its core goal from its initial goal of creating self-employment opportunities in the rural off-farm sector by promoting credit programme for the rural poor.Established by the government in 1990, he said PKSF is now implementing various programmes focusing on human development of the downtrodden to reduce inequality and eradicate extreme poverty by providing both financial and non-financial services including education and healthcare, training, managing climate change effects, social capital formation, skill training, assistance in accessing appropriate technologies, market information, and assistance in marketing of products.
Stating that the country has made a marked progress in poverty reduction, the economist said the poverty rate declined by almost 20 percentage points over the last 10 years and so. “But, now it’ll be difficult to deal with the existing 22 percent poor, mainly 11.5 percent hardcore ones.”More focus and coordinated efforts are needed to get rid of extreme poverty within a reasonable time period, said the chairman of the PKSF which is working with over 200 partner organisations (POs) across Bangladesh.“We’ve changed the old methodology of PKSF and redesigned our activities in 2010. Now our main focus is on human being…we not only provide money, but also provide training, support access to information technology, support marketing development from 2010 onwards,” Kholiquzzaman said.Mentioning that Bangladesh’s achievements in increasing economic growth, dropping poverty and accelerating social development have so far so good, he said but the onward journey is very challenging.Kholiquzzaman said the government should take an inclusive approach to promote human development and human dignity instead of only giving importance to GDP growth.About PKSP’s activities to help the government face the challenges, he said it has presence in all the upazilas of the country and providing nearly 1.2 million people both financial and non-financial supports.“We’ve a multidimensional approach in 150 unions to ensure all-out developments, including ensuring health and education services, training, managing climate change effect, social capital and all other facilities. It’s a very elaborate programme at union and household levels,” the noted economist said.Besides, he said, “Employment generation is our main focus. We’re working for household development, children development, cultural development and sports development. We’ve old age centres to provide various services to elderly people, including healthcare one.”Describing microcredit as an ‘ineffective formula, he said the PKSP is now giving credit as part of a package that includes skill training, access to technologies, and marketing assistance. “But, primarily, the PKSF was developed as a fund supplier to the partner organisation.”A large part of the country’s population is young, he said adding, ‘If they can be used properly, development can be accelerated. But they’ve to be trained and jobs have to be created for them.”The PKSF chairman said they are now taking programmes for youth development with an aim to enable them through training to find economic roles for themselves on the one hand and address social evils on the other. “We’re also trying to turn them to be entrepreneurs by giving them training and money. We train them and help them find job somewhere, even abroad.”Mentioning that the rate of unemployment is very high in the country, he said more attention is necessary to prepare the youths and find jobs for them in the country and outside.