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Janashakthi Bank Society, Sri Lanka — Report

Adapted from http://www.womensworldbanking.org/
formerly http://www.swwb.org

Janashakthi is a member-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for poor, rural women. It started in the Hambantota District of the Southern Province in Sri Lanka. Janashakthi was formed in late 1989 as an apex body of 124 Women's Societies.

In March 1990, the members of the Societies organised into Janashakthi Bank Societies (JBS) to pool individual and group savings and to extend small loans to members. The mission of the organisation is to eradicate poverty by empowering women to develop individual and collective self-reliance through mass mobilisation and working through the family unit and low income groups in villages and hamlets. Janashakthi is currently an affiliate-in-formation of WWB.

Members of Janashakthi must have an income level below the poverty line of the country (US$27/month). They can remain members after their incomes rise above the poverty line and can be eligible for loans up to Rs.150,000 (US$2,300). Currently, there are 67 individual Janashakthi Bank Societies. The JBSs are located in five of the 11 divisions of Hambantota. All JBSs can be found in rural or semi-rural areas.

Janashakthi is completely owned and controlled by its members. The 17 members of the Executive Committee (EC) are all elected. The EC members are also JBS clients and are Presidents of their Women's Societies. Janashakthi also has a six-member Advisory Committee and 345 staff members. As of December 31, 1999, Janashakthi had 13,900 active borrowers and 41,100 savers. The average loan size was US$50 equivalent.

Janashakthi offers a variety of savings products, including ordinary savings, children's savings, non-member savings, fixed deposits, group fund deposits, and elderly savings. The interest rate paid on savings is 12%, with the exception of children's savings, which is 14%. Janashakthi offers loan products for production-related activities, as well as for housing, consumption and emergency. The interest on loans is 2% per month and is charged on a declining balance. There is an up-front fee of 3% that is used in the case of an emergency.

The solidarity group loan methodology is used for all loans. Each group is made up of five members. When an individual within a group takes a loan, all the other members of that group share liability for that loan.

Members have to buy shares and save with the programme for at least three months before becoming eligible for loans. Janashakthi also offers insurance products, designed to protect both loans and the client. Finally, Janashakthi has group level savings and small loan facilities that are managed and controlled by the groups.

Although 75% of Janashakthi's budget goes toward the credit and savings programme, it also offers some non-financial services to its members including business training, a "barefoot library," nutrition and education programmes, environmental training, and others.

Janashakthi is an innovator in building a large member-based organisation with members taking all governance and management positions. It is also a leader in women's empowerment, leadership, and responsive savings and lending services for the poor.



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