The core work of Symbiosis International is to give education and options to people who are extremely poor through the formation and nurture of small community groups. In these groups, people are able to make progress which they have felt powerless to achieve as individuals. Upon group formation, Symbiosis offers eight months of adult functional education to each group, and members learn the power of being able to read, write and do basic mathematics. The curriculum addresses the value of saving money, as well as other topics related to hygiene, health and nutrition relevant to their local context.
Members of each group go on to establish their own savings collective, and start to generate their own income from entrepreneurial small businesses. These self governed groups save small amounts, usually less than 20 cents per person per week into a group account. They gradually accumulate capital from which they can take loans to establish small businesses or enterprises. With new income to support their family, group members experience the empowerment of bringing money home, learn to gradually pay back their money before continuing to grow their savings and contribute more to the group.
Within a local Symbiosis Group Bangladesh's poorest people are
Developing relationships of trust, support and mutual growth.
Gaining skills and knowledge needed to create their own solutions.
Pooling, managing and investing their own resources to build livelihoods and sustained income.
Independent Community Based Organisations grow through the Symbiosis group network
Initially, Symbiosis staff drawn from the local communities, guide and support the groups through the initial phases of education, training, savings and development.
Gradually, these groups become functioning and independent, amassing large savings with many recognised as leaders and advocates for the needs and rights of others within their own community.
Having support from their Symbiosis Group networks to help them flourish.
Advocacy for their communities enables them to gain access to essential government services.
Larger scale income generation projects are possible, increasing growth and the economic impact and advocacy in their local areas.