The Learning and Innovation Fund to Test New Ideas (LIFT) program offers innovative financial and non-financial services for farm and off-farm activities by developing a wide range of new tools for poverty alleviation. PKSF initiated the program in 2006 to patronize pro-poor innovative initiatives. PKSF integrates the successful financial services or products, piloted under LIFT, into its mainstream activities.
Currently, the program is implementing 35 innovative initiatives through 29 Partner Organizations (POs) and 1 non-POs. LIFT initiatives encompass a wide range of activities – from agriculture to livestock and fisheries, from potable water supply to off-farm IGAs, from social and economic inclusion of the disadvantaged groups to introduction of demand-driven financial and non-financial services for the poor.
Up to June 2022, a total of BDT 304.85 crore (BDT 281.86 crore in loans and BDT 22.99 crore in grants) was sanctioned under the program.
LIFT at a Glance
Land Lease Loan: A specialized initiative titled ‘Land Lease Loan’ helps extremely poor farmers take lease of cultivable land in char areas and grow crops on their own. So far, BDT 298 crore has been disbursed among 98,456 participants in 23 districts under this initiative.
Promoting Red Chittagong Cattle (RCC): ‘Preservation and promotion of Red Chittagong Cattle (RCC)’ is an effective livestock-related initiative of LIFT. RCC is the only recognized indigenous cow variety of Bangladesh. The animals are distributed among poor households on contract farming basis.
Inclusive Development for PWDs: LIFT operates a capacity building and social awareness advocacy initiative for the poor people with disabilties (PWDs) to ensure inclusive development. Under the initiative, participants receive credit assistance on flexible terms and technical training for self-employment. They also receive physiotherapy at a minimal cost. Additionally, an initiative has been taken under LIFT for students with hearing and speech impairments in Saidpur upazila of Nilphamari district. As of now, three specialized schools are educating students using ‘sign language’. Besides, awareness raising meetings and training for the parents of the children with disabilities are arranged in this upazila. LIFT also provided grants in implementing income generating activities and distributed hearing aids and other assistive equipment among persons with disabilities in Saidpur upazila.
Alternative Finance for Third Gender Persons: LIFT since 2019 has been providing skill development and financial services to people of third gender in Dhunat upazila of Bogura. They are being rehabilitated through training and job placements.
Improving Elderly People’s Livelihoods: LIFT provides employment opportunities to indigent senior citizens to create their own source of income. Under this initiative, appropriate employment creation for the elderly, primary healthcare and social awareness raising activities are being implemented.
Promoting Black Bengal Goats: LIFT promotes modern production techniques of Black Bengal goats as a household-based income generating activity. Twenty POs are implementing the initiative countrywide. As of June 2022, the initiative covers some 148,185 participants who have received over BDT 356 crore in loans.
Community Radio: The LIFT-financed community radios broadcast educative and entertainment programs on disaster adaptation, education, health, livelihood, social awareness and folk music to connect the country’s marginalized communities with the integrated development process.
Potable Water in the Salinity-prone Areas: LIFT has set up 20 Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants in the coastal districts of Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Barguna to mitigate potable water crisis. The RO plants produce about 60 thousand liters of potable water every day. The desalinated water is supplied to thousands of poor people in the coastal areas.
Socioeconomic Development of Dalits and Ethnic Minorities: A special initiative has been taken for the social and economic development of ethnic minorities and Dalits living in Dinajpur district. Under the initiative, training is being imparted to them on appropriate income-generating activities. Loans and grants are also being provided to improve their living standards.
Specialized Loan for Haor Dwellers: This loan product is provided through Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) for sustainable livelihoods of the extremely poor in selected haor areas of Kishoreganj, Sunamganj and Habiganj districts.
Evaluation of LIFT: And external evaluation on LIFT participants shows that the household income of 47% of the program participants has increased significantly.