Thursday, 17 June 2010

A Community building a Future

Today I was on Bhit island (just off Karachi in Pakistan) talking to representatives of the Baba Bhit (two islands making up one community) Fishermen Educational Society.

Baba Bhit is a community of fisherfolk who, until recently, had a literacy level of zero and an uncertain future. They land their catches at Karachi fishing harbour where 'middlemen' take a significant cut of the proceeds.

In the last 5 years, they have:

1. Established the Educational Society which has itself started a school - for boys and girls - on the island and recruited teachers from the mainland
2. Worked with a micro-finance bank to provide a 'branchless bank' on the island where fishermen can deposit and withdraw funds (within a certain agreed 'float') using chip & pin technology.
3. Established a plan for their own landing site, chillstore, market hall and shrimp peeling plant so that they can sell direct to processors, add value, employ women and - hopefully - secure permission to export to the UK

This is productivity in action!

I was there with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) and we hope to be able to help them with some funding for number 3. It is always better to help those who are helping themselves.

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