Mr Shafiqul Haque Chowdhury, the founder of the private company 'ASA', has suddenly left us. Many admirers at home and abroad mourn his death. He entered the world of microfinance abruptly, without having any institutional or academic preparation in this regard, yet he never accepted this as an obstacle. He was determined to do what he had set out to do.

His limitless courage was his true strength. Although he joined the microfinance sector late, he quickly established one of the two most advanced institutions in the country by merit of his courage, leadership, and management. Not only has he been able to expand microfinance across the country at a rapid pace – he has experimented with unbelievable courage to overcome various adversities and get microfinance to the right people through unimaginable institutional arrangements. And he succeeded.

Even after performing considerable work with 'ASA' in our country, he established micro-credit services following ASA’s framework in many countries spread all over the world. Together with many international organizations, he has taken the responsibility of delivering microcredit to various countries. He encouraged academics, donor agencies in the country and abroad, and leaders of international non-governmental organizations to believe in micro-credit.

I will remember his significant contribution, along with many who benefit from his program's activities, the employees he led to spread ASA services over the world, and his friends fascinated by his qualities. I am praying for the eternal peace and salvation of his departed soul.

With this, I extend my condolences to his bereaved family. All the people of the country will be eternally grateful to him for his fundamental contribution.

Written and shared by Dr Mohammed Yunus

Source: (Translated to our best ability). Consent received.   

Our celebration today of the life of my dear friend and brother, Shafiq, will be full of the good memories that he has left behind. While I was assailed by a great wave of grief when I learned of his passing, when I look back at the meaningful life he has lived, my heart returns to a calm and quiet place—much like the presence he gave whenever he was around.

It feels like only yesterday when I first met Shafiq in 1998 at the office of the Women’s World Banking. He was low-key, not trying to call attention to himself, confident of who he was. Yet, when he began to speak, everyone would listen. His words conveyed only important messages, and always dwelled on how we practitioners can further impact the lives of poor people. It was at that moment when I started admiring him for his strong commitment towards development.

I will always remember him as the man who taught us that we have to be selfless and humble so that we can give the best service to marginalized communities. His leadership as ASA Bangladesh Founder and President was compared to Henry Ford by the Asian Development Bank because of his insistence on simplicity and therefore low-cost nature of ASA’s operations through standardization of products and simplification of procedures, with careful consideration of the institution’s financial health.

I am crediting Shafiq as one of the major reasons why CARD has grown exponentially. In the early 2000s, we joined the tailend of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Microfinace Sector Strengthening Project (MSSP) for “breakthrough” microfinance institutions in the Philippines. We gradually shifted from a group liability to an individual liability approach, not an easy task at that time. All throughout this journey, Shafiq, ASA and the team of experts he lent, were behind CARD MRI. We shared small and big triumphs, as well as daunting challenges.

Even after the UNDP project ended in 2004, Shafiq maintained the support of ASA Bangladesh to CARD MRI. The exchange of learning between the staff of both institutions continues even up to this time. ASA Bangladesh indeed became an important contributor to CARD’s growth. We had only 60,000 members in Year 2000, 14 long years after our founding in 1986. Twenty years later, we are serving over 7 million clients because of Shafiq’s unselfish sharing of the technical resources of ASA, indeed a milestone for CARD MRI. As both institutions grew together, our relationship as partners strengthened even more. From a technical provider-recipient relationship, together, we began providing technical assistance to other institutions in the Southeast Asian region. In Cambodia, both CARD and ASA Bangladesh supported the growth of the microfinance and microinsurance industries in the country.

But in every battle, there will come a time when a general must rest. Shafiq has fought a long and meaningful battle and it is now up to us to continue his legacy to the world. His contributions to the global mission of poverty eradication will always be remembered and celebrated.

To Rabaya, Tanvir, Tanzil and Tushar, I am one with you in remembering Shafiq’s life. You will always have a family in us here at CARD MRI to support you. Rest assured that even when Shafiq is no longer with us, I will always be your Uncle Aris.

In order to keep Shafiq’s legacy alive. CARD MRI will establish the Md. Shafiqul Choudhury Memorial Scholarship Fund. CARD MRI will endow an initial fund of US$ 100,000 to the said scholarship. The Fund will enable us to send qualified students so that we can produce future leaders with a mark of excellence and dedication similar to Shafiq’s.

We will also place a marker at the CMDI’s Nook of Memory alongside Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino’s. The Nook of Memory is a place where we recognize and immortalize community development leaders like Shafiq.

We know that all of these may never be enough to show how eternally grateful we are to Shafiq but we hope that through these endeavors, his legacy will always remain an inspiration not only to us but also to the next generations of community development practitioners.

Written and shared by Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip, CARD MRI Founder/Chairman Emeritus, Philippines

Received the heart-breaking news. We were aware of Shafique Bhai’s ill-health and were hoping for his recovery but we are deeply saddened to hear that he is no longer with us.

Shafique Bhai’s contribution towards microfinance sector is exemplary and so very valuable. His immense dedication towards building ASA and his charismatic leadership is absolutely noteworthy and will always speak volumes about his commitment towards his work.

He will forever and fondly be remembered by all. His association with Bandhan goes a long way. His immense support during the initial stages of Bandhan was commendable. We so appreciate and value his guidance towards our organization. He readily provided suggestions and valuable advice at various phases. Words are not enough to thank him. We will always remain obliged.

We will miss him dearly. Please accept our heartfelt condolences and extend to other family members and all at ASA. His family is in our prayers and we hope for strength and peace for them at this difficult time of bereavement.

We pray that his soul rests in peace.

Best regards,
Chandra Shekhar Ghosh
Founder and CEO Bandhan Bank

I am deeply saddened and shocked at the sudden demise of my friend Shafiq sahib.

He was a global leader in development and in setting new trends in extending financial service to the poor and down trodden people of Bangladesh. More importantly he was a great human being, a sincere friend and a humble man with exceptional love for his country.

I always enjoyed his company and still remember his Kala jeera story which he narrated with keen interest when I met him in Dhaka many years ago. May Allah grant him the highest place in janatul firdos and continue to keep ASA, his passion, as a sources of emancipation for the poor.

With profound regards,
Amjad Arbab
Senior Advisor World Bank Group

The news of Md Shafiqual Haque Choudhury’s passing reached CGAP late last week. We join many in Bangladesh and globally in mourning his passing.

At CGAP we are grateful for Shafique Bhai’s work in Bangladesh in building ASA into one of the giants in our industry. Shafique’s commitment and genius in building ASA since 1978 continues to contribute across the country. It is remarkable what Shafique Bhai’s vision and execution have brought to his home country.

Abroad the effect of ASA globally is difficult to overstate. Not only is ASA International now in multiple countries, its influence goes well beyond its global franchises. ASA’s focus on efficiency has shaped organizations like Bandhan Bank in India and many others. And ASA’s thinking has been reflected in advancing global knowledge through institutions like the Boulder Institute of Microfinance.

We at CGAP are grateful for Shafique Bhai’s contribution to our Policy Advisory Group at a time when microfinance was just finding its feet. I must add that many of our staff have been personally influenced and inspired by ASA over the years.

On behalf of CGAP, I would like to extend my condolences to Shafique Bhai’s family and to the ASA staff.

Greta Bull

Women’s World Banking is grieving at the passing of Md Shafiqual Haque Choudhury, President of ASA.

The world lost an innovator who dreamt of establishing “a society free from poverty and economic disparity; using sustainable microfinance as a tool to erase the curse of poverty from the world.” The ASA that Shafiq established is known globally for building a low-cost, efficient and commercially-viable model of microfinance. But beyond building a model for itself, ASA, under the leadership of Shafiq, has been selfless and generous in sharing this model in Bangladesh and with the world. Shafiq’s vision has extended to 13 countries in Asia and Africa through ASA International, which has currently a reach of 2.3 million in addition to the 8 million reach that ASA has in Bangladesh. ASA joined the Women’s World Banking network in 1999 and by early 2003, ASA was hosting in Dhaka over 17 Network leaders who have adopted or were keen on adapting aspects of ASA’s model. Shafiq’s imprints and legacy in financial inclusion are undeniable.

Women’s World Banking lost a champion for women’s financial inclusion and we lost a friend. Women’s World Banking worked with ASA to conduct its second Organizational Gender Assessment (OGA) in November of 2008. Shafiq’s support and participation was instrumental in the development of Women’s World Banking’s OGA toolkit. I also remember sharing the stage with Shafiq at the Citi Series on Asian Business Leaders at the Asia Society in New York, where Shafiq shared his wisdom and wit on the topic, “Microfinance Made Simple.” An inspiring leader, he captured his approach as that of a simple man with a simple way of doing things. I also enjoyed working with Shafiq in our short lived effort to establish ASA Foundation USA with the goal of reaching one million more. Shafiq was so tireless.

We and the Women’s World Banking Network leaders will surely miss him.

The grief that his wife Mrs. Rabeya Akhter, their 3 sons Ashraful, Ariful and Ashiful and their families are experiencing at this time must be unbearable. We send our sincerest condolences. We also send our condolences to Shafiq’s colleagues at ASA and ASA International. We hope that the knowledge that Shafiq made Bangladesh and the rest of the world a much better world will provide all of you some measure of comfort at this difficult time.

Mary Ellen
President & CEO of Women’s World Banking

We are deeply sad to hear about the sudden passing away of our President Sir Mr. Shafiqul Hoque Choudhury. While we know that he has been given to us by Almighty Allah for but a limited time, it is still difficult to accept the death of a kind man, great leader and personality like him. During his stay in this world he devoted himself to make lives of millions of people happy and prosperous.

Written and shared by CEO and Staff of Lak Jaya Micro Finance Limited

He was a great visionary leader, a father, grand mentor and builder of men and women to achieve greatness, he believed in the goodness of people and changed the world through microfinance. We are comforted by the fact that he left a great legacy, not just for the people of Bangladesh, but for the entire world and specifically in the Global Microfinance Sector. We shall continue to remember his love for the poor and how that he greatly desired that so many should be led out of poverty.

Written and shared by Aminul Haque Bhuiya on behalf of the board and management of ASA Nigeria

We are deeply saddened by the news of President Sir’s leaving us and offer our sincere condolence from the bottom of our hearts. We pray for eternal peace to his soul. We also pray for strength to all family members to bear this irreparable loss. He has been like a guardian and a guiding force for all of us. We will always be missing him. Every ASAI India staff have highest respect for President Sir and are saddened by the news. ASAI India’s Head Office and every branch in all states have organised condolence and prayer meet observing a minute silence for peace to his soul.

Written and shared by Anjan Dasgupta on behalf of ASA India

“Shafiq was one of the world’s pioneers and global leaders of microfinance and financial inclusion. He committed his life towards the improvement of the civil rights and livelihoods of low-income people in Bangladesh and around the world. Shafiq was a transformative and inspiring leader and a guardian for many, yet he remained a humble person, never losing sight of his social mission. He will be dearly missed.”

Dirk Brouwer - CEO, ASA International Group plc