Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women is dedicated to the social and
economical empowerment of poor women by creating strong economic and social resource bases.
“Shakti is the Bengali word for power”
The original title of the organization was “Foundation for Disadvantaged Women”, which was later changed to a one-word term to define the company’s mission. Shakti Foundation speaks of the strength of an empowered woman who has realized her potential to become a leader, a changemaker or a decision maker in her society.
In the year 1992, the journey towards establishing women empowerment took shape for Shakti Foundation. Our mission was to eradicate poverty and stabilize social security for the poor women of the country, a mission that initially did not gain enough support from the citizens of Bangladesh. Despite that, Shakti continued by first introducing a small loan curriculum in a few slums of Dhaka. After the implementation of similar microfinance program in the slums the other cities also turned out to be successful, we decided to gradually move our focus to the rural areas.
Shakti Foundation strongly believes in the undiscovered capacities of women to become powerful and independent beings in the society. Our mission has always been to end their struggles and support them till they become confident working women. At present, we have our branches running all over Bangladesh in 53 districts and providing services to 492,106 households. We have covered both rural and urban areas through our fully-operating programs, namely Microfinance, Health, Agro Development and Shouro Alo.
Shakti Foundation has registered itself with NGO Affairs Bureau Bangladesh and Register of Joint Stock Company Ltd. under The Foreign Donations Regulations rules 1978 and Society Act 1860 respectively. Shakti Foundation has also received certifications through Microcredit Regulatory Authority Act in 2007 to run their microcredit programs.
The key objectives of Shakti Foundation towards their mission of bringing about social development can be listed as the following:
The economic empowerment of poor women through creation of their capital and resource base
Empowerment of poor women through leadership and capability development
The overall development of women as entrepreneurs, decision makers, leaders and change agents in their families and communities
Integration of women in the decision making process of Shakti Foundation
Founder & Executive Director
The idea for Shakti Foundation first crossed my mind while researching on women empowerment for my PhD thesis. At that time, I was also working on similar projects with Grameen Bank and Bangladesh Rural Development Board to help poor women improve their standards of living. It made me realize that Bangladesh was in need of a change. A change that would eliminate the existing gender discrimination, and reduce poverty all over the country. Shakti Foundation was thus built to pursue this very cause. Our aim was to implement the basic rights of food, health, work and education for disadvantaged women across Bangladesh.
The success of Shakti Foundation would not have been possible without the collective power of the beliefs of our founders. I have had the privilege of knowing these wonderful and prestigious figures of the society who have been with us from the start. It is their continued support and encouragement over the past two decades that worked as our key inspirations. Their efforts cannot be measured by any unit: they are the reason behind Shakti Foundation’s being.
I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to another committed group of people whose contribution played a huge role in Shakti Foundation’s establishment. They are the young changemakers who dedicated long working hours and incredible passion to help the organization grow from its roots. Their selfless devotion have now earned them respectable positions in the top tiers of the organization.
Shakti Foundation, therefore, does not owe its distinguished recognition as a nonprofit to any single entity or firm. The undivided support and shared common dream of bringing equality in the still-developing country of Bangladesh are what had instead given rise to this promising foundation. We still dream of the day when all the women of Bangladesh will learn to cross the lines that has been imposed upon them. For us, it has always been a collaborative struggle to fight against poverty and gender rights till our women learn to earn for themselves, and prove that their social status can be indeed be equal to that of men.