Exploring the Success of BRAC Tanzania’s Microcredit Programme

Dan Brockington and Nicola Banks

This paper explores the growth of BRAC’s microcredit programme in Tanzania and some of the variety in and patterns of that growth. BRAC’s microfinance programme has grown dramatically and significantly within Tanzania and serves tens of thousands of women across large parts of the country. We examine quantitative data from April 2011 to April 2013, and use observation of groups and client and staff interviews from 2012-2013 to explore that success. We argue that the growth is based upon its effective marketing strategy and the fundamental usefulness of BRAC’s loans to its clients. But the findings also show that members were leaving at the time of the research. This could reflect a number of dissatisfactions that BRAC’s clients have with some aspects of BRAC’s microfinance products and the performance of its staff. The staff problems are confirmed by the staff themselves, both senior and junior. They are consistent with failings, across all of Tanzania, with respect to training and capacity in the finance and microfinance sectors generally. They also reflect the difficulties of cross-cultural adaptation, and learning to work in Tanzanian contexts (for Bangladeshi staff), and learning to work in a Bangladeshi organisation (for Tanzanian staff) that were current at the moment we conducted our observations. The interesting development, which has happened rapidly after this research concluded, is that BRAC’s staffing has changed significantly, with many more senior Tanzanian appointments. This may have considerable implications for the continued development of the organisation.