Harun is an experienced and dedicated professional who has made significant contributions to the field of microfinance. With a career spanning several decades, he has worked tirelessly to empower women and communities through financial inclusion and economic development.
Harun’s journey with Grameen Bank began in Bangladesh in 1986 when he joined as a Trainee Branch Manager. Eager to understand the realities faced by the people Grameen Bank aimed to serve, he invested his time in fieldwork.
“It was the rainy season in Bangladesh, but I worked on foot, with poor roads and harsh weather conditions to visit villages and engage with local women’s groups,” says Harun.
After gaining practical experience in the field, Harun underwent theoretical training at the Head Office. This training not only equipped him with the necessary knowledge but also provided an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who shared their experiences. With a growing passion for microfinance, Harun quickly advanced within the Grameen Bank, becoming a Branch Manager and subsequently opening new branch offices to expand the Bank’s reach.
Harun’s dedication and commitment to microfinance did not go unnoticed. He was promoted to work as a Program Officer and, shortly thereafter, assumed the role of an Area Manager. His expertise and accomplishments led to his transfer to the International Training Department, established to meet the growing global interest in Grameen Bank’s success.
“We had many international visitors. Very senior people came to visit Professor Yunus and we explained the work of the Grameen Bank. How women are receiving money, how they are paying back the money, and the impact of that money on the rural economy,” he says.
Harun played a crucial role in showcasing Grameen Bank’s achievements to these esteemed visitors, including Queen Sophia of Spain and Hilary Clinton.
The opportunity to work on an overseas project in Zambia presented itself to Harun, and he successfully introduced the microfinance program there, improving its reputation and fostering financial discipline among participants. Subsequently, he received an offer to work as a Program Officer with the United Nations Refugee Program. Upon returning to Bangladesh, Professor Yunus encouraged Harun to leverage his experiences and expertise in other management roles.
In 2013, Harun began working as a consultant with a local NGO, aiding in policy-making, decision-making, and project implementation. During this time, he also became aware of Grameen Australia’s search for a microfinance expert, prompting him to submit his CV. Today, as the Chief Operating Officer of Grameen Australia, Harun continues to advocate for the transformative potential of microfinance, ensuring that the organisation remains committed to empowering women and communities.
Harun’s extensive experience highlights the importance of building strong relationships with the people he serves. In Bangladesh, his transfers between branches were often met with emotional farewells, demonstrating the love and respect the community had for him. Recognising the significance of relationships in the microfinance sector, Harun strives to connect with individuals and empower them through microfinance initiatives.
In his observations of microfinance in Australia, Harun has seen the potential for women on low incomes to establish businesses such as nail salons, homemade foods, and clothing imports.
“The Grameen model can benefit people in Australia, especially those on low incomes who aspire to achieve financial independence and self-sufficiency.,” he says.
“Despite the economic differences between Bangladesh and Australia, there are similar challenges faced by low-income individuals in both countries.
“In Australia, there are difficulties in shopping for affordable produce and the high cost of living, which presents obstacles to those seeking to improve their financial situation,” says Harun.
In his personal life, Harun is a family-oriented individual with two children. While his family has not joined him in Australia yet, he plans to reunite with them in the future. During his leisure time, Harun enjoys spending time with friends and relatives, embracing the cultural experiences of his new home.
Harun’s passion for microfinance and his unwavering commitment to empowering individuals have made him a respected and influential figure in the field. Through his role at Grameen Australia, he continues to champion the Grameen model and its transformative impact on women on low incomes.