MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Asian University for Women Expanding on Partnerships with Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, BRAC Afghanistan

Asian University for Women (AUW), which was created in 2008 in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is in the process of bringing on additional partners through which it will recruit bachelor’s degree candidates from low-income regions of Asia and the Middle East. The mission of AUW is to offer talented young women from families with minimal educational and financial resources the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree at no cost to them. The annual per-student cost of tuition and living expenses is USD 15,000.

In addition to identifying potential students, AUW partners help build the trust of their families, who may be hesitant to send their daughters to a residential program in another region. Since its inception, AUW has worked with Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution in Bangladesh, to recruit students from its members’ families. Since 2010, AUW has partnered with BRAC Afghanistan, an affiliate of the Bangladeshi nonprofit BRAC, to recruit members of ethnic minorities in Afghanistan.

Kamal Ahmad, the founder of AUW, tells MicroCapital that “AUW’s partnership with Grameen Bank has built upon the core successes of microfinance, bringing greater consciousness of the importance of girls’ education to the Grameen Bank member community and beyond.”

Prior to entering the undergraduate programs of AUW, students may attend its affiliated preparatory programs for approximately one year each: Pathways for Promise, an English-language immersion program, and the Access Academy, which covers a range of subjects.

As of 2017, AUW has enrolled approximately 600 students from 15 different countries in Asia and the Middle East. A quarter of its 440 graduates have entered graduate programs. AUW reports assets of BDT 316 million (USD 4 million) as of 2016. It is supported by the US-based Asian University for Women Support Foundation, which reports 2016 assets of USD 12 million. The organizations’ funders have included the Bangladeshi government and the US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sources and Additional Resources

Information provided directly to MicroCapital by the Asian University for Women Support Foundation

Grameen Bank
http://www.grameen-bank.net/

BRAC
http://www.brac.net/

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