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Impact Highlight (MFToT): Muhammad Hassan talks about poverty and microfinance in Pakistan

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center

What is MFTOT?

Microfinance Training of Trainers (MFTOT) is a distance learning course launched in 2005 by the Asian Development Bank Institute, the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center—a member of GDLN Asia Pacific, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund.

  MFTOT makes quality training in microfinance accessible to more decision-makers, professionals and practitioners in the Asia Pacific region and beyond, through blended learning. Accredited trainers and countries covered continue to rise in number as efforts continue in a pursuit to strengthen the institutional capacity of microfinance—in the region and around the world.

On to Hassan’s story…

Poverty breaks people, says 29-year-old Muhammad Hassan. He’s seen people in his hometown in rural Pakistan sell their honor and their dignity—their children.

“A daughter, age 16 to 28, for one night. A child, six months to two years old, is sold to a couple without child. It depends on the situation of the family. Poverty is poison for hope.”

The former college basketball player first discovered microfinance after joining Khushhali Bank Limited in June 2004. The bank was founded in 2000 as part of Pakistan’s poverty reduction strategy and its microfinance development program.

imageHassan began his career as a customer service officer, and as he sought ways to expand his knowledge on microfinance, heard from friends about the Microfinance Training of Trainers (MFTOT) course conducted jointly by Tokyo Development Learning Center and the Asian Development Bank Institute. He applied for the course in 2007 while working as a credit specialist, experiencing difficulties back then to come up with the $50 course fee, due to a still “limited salary”.

Once the problem had been sorted with sponsorship, books and CD’s soon arrived, and Hassan got to work.

Hassan now earns more. He has no more difficulties in paying $50 course fees, he says with a smile.

After becoming the first at his bank to complete the MFTOT course, Hassan was promoted. His current position is Branch Relationship Manager, with a rough 30 percent salary increase.

Hassan also became the first from a branch office of the bank to train new officers. 30 people in their 20’s and 30’s have been trained by Hassan in microfinance; its methods, and its product features. These officers are posted at the front lines of different branches, and are responsible for all field-related activities. Steadily, Hassan has been disseminating the knowledge and skills that he has earnestly achieved from the MFTOT course.

“Every person holds a dream. Sometimes, poor people just want a meal. Sometimes they dream for a home, and if someone has a little skill, he will dream of having a small business.” Hassan wants to reach out to people like that.

His own grandfather, who had passed away before Hassan was born, had been a poor farmer in a village in Punjab province, who sowed wheat with the help of his wife. “I could have helped my grandfather with microfinance expertise, if he had been alive today.”

“I want to help small farmers, shopkeepers, and skilled people with no businesses, willing to try, for their families.” He believes that concern for their families drives people to succeed. Hassan strives to help these people to help themselves, in reaching for dreams that may never even have been conceivable.

“Different microfinance products address different needs – they can all be helped by microfinance,” he says with confidence.

Continuing to Disseminate Knowledge—to Make a Difference

Hassan has also taught microfinance to MBA students. He has provided training on the role of microfinance in entrepreneur development at different business schools, and coached officers of financial institutions on microfinance products and policies in training programs organized by the State Bank of Pakistan, the country’s regulatory authority.

Utilizing the knowledge and techniques he has acquired from the course and various discussion forums, he is always thankful to the MFTOT course team for the guidance and encouragement it has provided. “I am proud to be a certified trainer and member of the Trainer community.”

“I want to do as much as I can to distribute this knowledge. I want it to play a vital role in the alleviation of poverty. Microfinance changes people’s lives. There are millions of very poor people in Pakistan, and millions living on a dollar a day. Microfinance has great effects on living standards, to move up. I try to create a product especially for the very poor, without interest.”

With the help of MFTOT, Hassan has helped people to reach for their dreams, and to make better lives for themselves and their families. The avid reader, with a passion for research, innovation, and new ideas, is continuing to study microfinance—hoping to make a difference.

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