CSR Awards Finalists 2022: How Marico’s “SWAPNO” Empowering Women Through Financial Inclusion
SWAPNO (Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities) is a best-in class “poverty graduation” or “social transfer” model aimed at delivering social and economic empowerment of ultra-poor and vulnerable rural women through sustainable livelihoods, food security and financial inclusion.

SWAPNO focuses on creating productive employment or sustainable livelihood opportunities for its beneficiaries (rather than being merely a safety net program) to graduate them out of poverty.

With the execution and monitoring support from UNDP and Govt. of Bangladesh, Beneficiaries are selected from ultra-poor demographical presence as identified by Bangladesh Institute Development Studies (BIDS). Beneficiaries must be a rural woman with head of household responsibility, who is widowed, divorced, separated or married to a husband who is not able to earn.

The entry point is a 12 to 18-month cycle of cash-for-work and building human capital (through health, nutrition, rights awareness etc.) of women. The cash-for-work is given to project beneficiaries for being engaged in public works (road improvement, building dams etc.) by local government. The monthly wages are paid through mobile banking, with a forced saving of 25% of wages. This forced savings is given to beneficiaries as a “graduation bonus” which contributes towards seed capital for creation of assets (e.g., sewing machine, livestock), self-employment, basic household needs (linked to resilience) and further training and educational development.

SWAPNO currently operates in 22 districts and 106 upazilas, with 64,980 beneficiaries.

As of end of 2020, households under the program showed: an increase of average monthly income by Tk.3,545 compared to Tk.205 in other households. Nutritional food intake increased for 97% households under the program, 92.2% of women started monthly savings, 66.2% of beneficiaries did not suffer from financial crisis in the pandemic and 95% of SWAPNO women did not face domestic violence in a year.

As a mother of two and a bedridden husband, I was at a loss and the sole breadwinner. The SWAPNO program helped me open my own shop and sewing business in just one year. I then bought one cow and two goats and earn Tk. 20,000 every month from everything.” -Saleha, 28, Chinipara village, Lalmonirhat

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