Helping The Poor as a Profitable Business: The Story of BRI-Units

“Looking at the large number of poor, a rapidly growing majority of the world’s population, it is obvious that an innovative solution to help those who are poor is needed. BRI, an Indonesian state-owned bank has succeeded in developing an innovative program to help the poor and low-income people. Whereas BRI Unit, a functional unit located in rural and suburban areas used to help improve the welfare of low-income and poor people, has grown into a profitable business unit. Now, BRI-Units has become the world’s largest micro finance institution, helping tens of millions of low-income and poor people.

The success of BRI Unit Desa was keenly felt when the worst economic crisis in modern Indonesia’s history occurred in 1998. Besides adding significantly to the number of poor, the crisis- which also affecting other Asian countries- also threatened the existence of most local Indonesian and Asian banks. The result is a bevy of predictions – among others from McKinsey&Co – that global banks will dominate Post-Crisis banking and finance in Asian countries.”