"The Portfolios of the Poor financial diaries in Bangladesh span 1999-2005. As well as giving a unique insight into the challenges faced by poor households, they show how the households interact with the uniquely saturated and rapidly growing microfinance industry in the country. Unlike many studies of microfinance that feature poor Bangladeshi households, these financial diaries depict the entire financial picture, showing how they use microfinance alongside the many informal financing mechanisms and the few formal services available to the poor. The Briefing Note talks about the first set of Bangladeshi diaries (1999-2001) where MFIs reached 30 out of 42 diary households. But despite this widespread use of microfinance, it proved to be a relatively small part of households’ overall financial activity. Microfinance products accounted for only 13 percent of all household financial assets, and 21 percent of debt. The later set, in 2003-2005, showed some improvement on this low figure, through the use of credit-life insurance, loan top-up mechanisms, increased savings capacity with a greater variety of both short and long term savings products, as well as the overall increased reliability of products. These are major triumphs of the sector, but microfinance’s still relatively small share of the total transactions of poor households indicates the need for further microfinance product innovation."