Pidim in Covid-19

Pidim in response to Covid-19 Pandemic

Pidim had been very successful in making steady progress in operation of its microfinance program for many years until Covid-19 pandemic became a serious threat to public health . Because of the suspension of program activities for so long, huge amount of weekly and monthly dues remained unrealized driving OTR (On-Time-Realization) drop to 64 % as on 30 June 2020 comparing to 98.60% calculated at the closing of February, 2020. The countrywide lockdown was hurting country’s economy tremendously and the government eventually lifted the lockdown to stop downward spiral of the country’s economy and help restore livelihood of millions of people facing starvation, even when the virus was still spreading first. Pidim opened all of its offices on 1 June 2020. A detailed plan was worked out at the beginning to provide proper health protection for the staff before they return to their jobs. Written health advices/tips on how to avoid infection of corona virus were emailed to field office as well. It was made mandatory to maintain personal hygiene by all staff and a committee was formed in each area to monitor the health behavior of the staff. In addition, stock of face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitizers, bleaching powder and personal protective gears were built up centrally at Dhaka Head Office. They were procured from best known pharmacies in Dhaka city. The materials were later on dispatched to all branch offices as and when required. Head Office also arranged for Sanitizing Footbath Mats in each branch office. Personal hygiene and frequent cleaning of office and resident were recommended. All the activities were coordinated by a Health Protocol Unit (HPU) headed by a staff from HR Department. HPU maintained a list of all government clinic and hospitals assigned for Covid-19 test and treatment of the infection in the program areas including Dhaka city. The piling up of unrealized loans was an existential threat to microfinance program. The flow of income was completely stalled and yet Pidim continued paying staff salary and benefits in full including all other recurring expenses. This was in line with organizational policy emphasizing on staff welfare and their satisfaction. Keeping the staff satisfied and retaining their allegiance to the organization was considered paramount for future sustainability of the organization. The loss of income amounted to Bdt 90 million. The portfolio (principal outstanding) of microfinance program decreased as well, because of postponement of delivery of loans to the group members. The portfolio reduced from Bdt 241.95 crore  to Bdt 231.37 crore during the period between 29 Feb to June 2020,  shooting up PAR (Portfolio At Risk) from 4.84  to 31.85 .


Getting microfinance program back to pre-Covid-19 status, was thought to be a formidable task. The office classified investment sectors based on risks involved and made its plan for disbursement of loan. The focus was more on realization of overdue loan than on increase of portfolio through disbursement of fresh loans.  Developing social capital (relationship with group members) was one of the fundamental aspects of Pidim’s microfinance program. Some of the key aspects of human relationship were included in online discussion and field officials were reminded to do the needful in maintaining their relationship with the group members and their leaders. The field situation was very chaotic and sometimes confusing. The staffers were advised to use their experience and common sense, and focus more on things that were manageable and not on what other MFIs were doing. The need for maintaining social distancing made their job even harder to gather information and work out their assets and liability status. However, they could perform their job using their experience and existing social bond/aptitude with the group members amid the conundrum. It was learned from field information that majority of the group members could tide over the crisis by cutting family’s recurring costs and preserving cash and other capital assets. Yet for some the situation was not the same. According to field survey report, 5850 households (13.0%) could not sustain their IGAs, which needed refinancing. Pidim put up the matter with PKSF (one of the principal financiers of pidim ). PKSF was quite aware of the situation and took steps to make available refinancing funds to its partner-organizations. Besides, pidim decided to apply for government declared fund through local bank to refinance the failed IGAs/projects of the group members. Refinancing loan will be given on soft-term and at low rate of interest. Using this loan the affected borrowers will be able to restart their business and make up for the loss within comparatively short period of time.

PKSF is also leaning its present policy and priority on development of Small and Medium enterprises by its partner-NGOs. It channelizes its microenterprise funds through MDP (Microenterprise Development Project) and SEP (Sustainable Enterprise Project) being implemented by the NGOs. Pidim is already implementing those projects in many of its program areas. Managing the Agrashar Loan separately will help achieve the targets set under the project proficiently.    


Microfinance program is known for its Group Approach, which is essentially based on social bond and mutual dependency of the group members. The group functions as a unit influencing the behaviors of its members securing IGA loans and repaying dues on time. Because of the transformation of Bangladesh Rural Economy over the period of last two decades, the group approach seems to have lost its effectiveness in many high economic growth areas that sprung up almost every nooks and corners of the country. While group approach is still working in many areas, small and medium enterprises require a different approach for lending. Functionally related small and medium enterprises can join into groups and work as business cluster interdependently connecting themselves with backward and forward marketing channels, developing value chain, acquiring farm technologies and accessing medical supplies and treatment of poultry and livestock diseases etc. Covid-19 pandemic provided the opportunity to revisit the ideas and approaches that were attempted in the past and come up with better solutions to the present problems and also future challenges. Finally it can be said that Pidim has been quite successful in dealing with the situation ensued from Covid-19 pandemic. If the country can weather the pandemic and situation does not deteriorate further, then restoration of microfinance program to pre-pandemic state will certainly be possible by end of this year.



  Statistical Representation of Covid-19 Status (2019-20)

Total No.of



(Yr 2019-20)

No. of Covid-19

Positive cases.



No. of recovery

Recovery rate

No of Death

Death rate









Zero fatality and low level of infection rate is observed



Statement of expenditure related to prevention and remedy of Covid-19 (2019-20)



Amount in Tk (BDT)

Hand sanitizer

15oo litre


Quality Mask

3100 pcs


One time use mask

65 boxes


Digital thermometer









Covid protection goggles/ glasses



Foot bath tray and special doormat



Hand wash facilities installation for clients



Spray Machine



Covid-19 Test



Treatment donation for COVID-19 positive staff



Donation to Bangladesh Government for COVID-19 emergency relief and response.

1 day basic salary of all employee







Measures taken for Covid-19

  • Advising and strict monitoring of field workers through central Health Protocol Unit (HPU).
  • Providing hand sanitizer, quality masks, hand gloves, digital thermometer, oxy meter, foot bath tray, hand washing facilities etc. at free of cost to branches for all employees.
  • Free Covid test for employees with symptoms and other staff working in the same arena.
  • Donation of one day basic salary of all employees to Bangladesh Government grant fund to help the affected needy and poor of the country.