Sharishabari Area Development Project

This project is located in Jamalpur district and works mostly on the eastern side of the Jamuna river. Operating for the last 13 years, the groups in this area come primarily from Bengali communities with some pockets of minority groups.

  • Challenges: Annual flooding of the river.
  • Achievements: 136 groups with 2,685 members. 90 of these groups are sustainable, requiring oversight only. Amazingly, some of the especially vulnerable groups have been able to relocate their villages to higher ground by way of Savings Group loans to purchase communal land. Strong secondary groups have developed to commence more capital intensive income activities. The current goal is to facilitate independent legal registration of these groups, maintaining only informal links with Symbiosis. 


Salina's story


Salina and her husband Shahjahan live in Hatkhula village in central Bangladesh. They are landless and she was illiterate. Many years ago, trying to improve her life, Salina joined a Symbiosis Functional Education group. Over 8 months of daily classes, Salina learned many things – including how to write her name and do basic arithmetic.

After completing the functional education class Salina and the other women started the “Koli Landless Women’s Savings Group”. Every week she and the other group members deposited 10 taka (13c) into the group savings, and over time the capital has accumulated – it currently stands at 161,235 tk ($2180). When it was her turn for a loan, Salina borrowed 3,000 tk. ($40) from the group savings to start a small grocery store, and gradually paid back her loan from her profits. She then took another 6000tk. ($80) loan to invest further into the grocery store, paying it off gradually. With her next 12,000 tk ($160) loan, Salina bought a cow. She fattened the cow and sold it for 26,000 tk ($350), more than doubling her money.

Once the loan was repaid, Salina had enough profit to build a new house and dig a tube-well for water. Salina’s current loan, for 20,000 tk ($270) was for another cow to fatten. The present market value of that cow is 40,000 tk.

Joining a savings group has given Salina literacy, numeracy and access to capital for her business ideas. Salina’s five children are doing well in school and employment, and Salina is thrilled at the way her own study and savings have improved her family’s life.