Expanding Access To Savings-led Financial Services in Bhutan: A Successful South-south Technical Partnership


The ancient Kingdom of Bhutan has moved towards increased socio-economic development and democracy over the past 50 years while maintaining its commitment to the pursuit of Gross National Happiness. The Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) has contributed to the country’s progress, providing financial services to the rural poor since 1988. The MicroLead project, Expanding Access to Savings-Led Financial Services in Bhutan, has served as a catalyst for increasing financial inclusion in Bhutan; from project inception through 2013, BDBL has increased the number of depositors eightfold to more than 85,000 and doubled the number of borrowers to more than 38,000. Through a combination of factors—the right kind of external financing, appropriate technical assistance, and the receptiveness of BDBL staff and management—this project demonstrates that positive change is possible even in challenging circumstances.