rough connections guide to BRAC (last update september 09)
I started work on brands that do good for people back in 1976. BRAC is certainly in the top 3 of any organisation I have ever researched – probably
none as such see through operation systems and such simple connections between everyone who interacts in service sectors of
the most valuable kind for human and community sustainability. Why wouldn’t every top 1000 organisation with a responsibility
for our future generations want to form relationships to benchmark and action learn with BRAC?
Main webs www.brac.net www.bracuniversity.net whole series of internet for poor webs of www.bracnet.net
Unlike Grameen –the other extraordinary organisation to have helped Bangladesh discover the greatest
invention in the world http://worldclassbrands.tv BRAC does not separate out dozens of separate
companies and with some heroic regional exceptions (eg Afghanistan) it has only seen itself as ready to
offer worldwide advice since 2006. Some of these new applications in Africa – eg Tanzania & Uganda
are best ever seen in such a short period given true microcredit compounds on a trajectory where 7 & 14 years are ones
to set heroic goals for
BRAC’s origin (1972, initial cyclone relief organisation
HELP1970) emerged as the first national NGO able to deliver disaster relief at world class levels of integrity and
with compound future vision. BRAC soon became the system of choice for taking programs across rural communities to alleviate
poverty and life critical crises. A breakthrough example in 1970s being the oral rehydration program: from
village to village over a several year period BRAC’s appointed taskforce trained village mothers in how to make up a
homemade remedy of sugars and salts in the correct proportions without which up to 20% of infants died of diarrhea.
For Fazle Abed, it soon became a natural idea to BRAC to build whole industry sectors from the bottom up with microcredit.
For example, Poultry supply chain as integrated by BRAC involves at least 4 jobs- each of which BRAC has designed with extraordinary
simple innovations and each of which has become jobs that which people start up in by taking a microloan and getting the BRAC
knowhow for that job – superchickens breeding of, innoculating in village, laying eggs with, transporting surplus beyond
village. There are other jobs connecting this which may require brac to invest in infrastructure and employees – eg
the processing of maize into chicken feed. The whole industry is owned so that people sustain good incomes at every job level.
(where I have briefly met some, I have taken liberty of adding
more of their profile)
Speeches by Fazle Abed
Core Staff Include
Amin – an operational genius who takes Abed’s ideas and operationalizes them
who have been with Abed since the 1970s include heads of statistics (Mushtaque), training, microfinance, education, administration,
accounts Muhammad (Rumee) Ali, BRAC BankProfile from london sustainable banking conferencehttp://www.ftconferences.com/event/pdfs/80/cBrochure/0_Sust%20On%20The%20Day%20Bro%20FINAL.pdf Muhammad (Rumee) Ali has been associated with the banking industry for the last 33 years.Mr
Ali started his career with Grindlays Bank in Bangladesh in 1975 which later became ANZ Bank. He has worked
in different capacities in the Indian, UK and Australian operations ofANZ Bank. In 2000, while
Mr Ali was the Country Head of ANZ in Bangladesh, ANZ operations in Bangladesh were taken over by Standard Chartered, and
Mr Ali continued as the CEO,Bangladesh of the combined operations of the two banks.In November 2002 he joined the central bank
of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Bank) as Deputy Governor (Supervision) and joined BRAC in January 2007 as Managing Director,
Enterprises and a Director of BRAC Bank Limited. He is also the Vice Chairman of the BankersAssociation of Bangladesh.
Zaman, chief of staffTania Zaman is Director Chairperson's
Office (Chief of Staff). In addition to assisting the Chairperson in coordinating the activities of BRAC, BRAC International
and maintaining close liaison with BRAC USA and BRAC
UK, she supervises Communications and Internship,
Brand Management and Publication departments. She acts as the Secretary to the Governing body of BRAC and the Governing Board
of BRAC InternationalTania started her career with
the United Nations Development Programme in 1987 and served in Nepal, New York and Vietnam. From 1993 to 2001 she was with the International Health Policy Program
which was housed in the Human Development Vice-Presidency of The World Bank in Washington, DC. She has spent the
last 7 years in Dhaka - first as Head of Advocacy
for Save the Children UK, then as technical support to the Ministry on Health's Gender Issues Office and most recently as
Governance Adviser to the Netherlands Embassy. Tania has a BA from George Washington University and an M.Phil from Yale University.
USA fundraising CEO – Susan
Davis – Susan was working for the Ford Foundation
in Bangladesh in the 1980s. Prior to heading fundraising
and USA office of BRAC, she worked on the ashoka and
jeff skoll project to make dvds of 6 world class end poverty entrepreneurs including: Bill Drayton of Ashoka, Muhammad Yunus,
Fazle Abed, and founder of Transparency International Peter Eigen. Davis has an extraordinary Board of supporters which includes Ron Gryzwinski co-founder of Shorebank in Chicago and adviser
at early stages on the constitutions of Grameen and BRAC’s banks.
BRAC Governing Body Members (2008 - 2009)
| Through its years of struggle
against chronic deprivation, hunger and injustice, Bangladesh has been
home to manyinnovations in tackling poverty. BRAC, a development organisation founded by Fazle Hasan Abed in February 1972,soon after the liberation
of Bangladesh, has acted as both the initiator and catalyst for many such innovations
andchange. Our initial focus was on assisting the refugees returning from India
to their newly independent country.In 1973, we broadened our focus to long term sustainable poverty reduction. Over the course
of its evolution,BRAC has established itself as a pioneer in recognising and tackling the different dimensions of poverty. Ourunique, holistic
approach to poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor encompasses a range of coreprogrammes in economic and social development,
health, education, human rights and legal services as well asdisaster management. Today, BRAC is the largest southern NGO
employing 120,000 people, the majority of whichare women, and reaches more than 110 million people with development interventions in Asia and Africa.Partners |
two donors’ consortia, one each for the BRAC Education Programme and the Ultra Poor Programme. The consortia conducted
their own audits and external reviews and met twice in 2007 to discuss findings. The consortia donors are the European Commission,
Department for International Development (UK), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), CIDA (Canada), NOVIB (the
Netherlands), AusAID (Australia), NORAD (Norway) and the World Food Programme (WFP).Founder Fazle Abed
News & Connections Searcheshttp://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=%2B%22fazle+abed%22+%2Bclinton&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=&aqi= Bill Clinton who CGI awarded Fazle Abed
its main honor: Fazle Hasan Abed attended the Clinton Global Initiative
White Oak retreat from March 4- 6. CGI's strategic planning retreat at White Oak was an exclusive gathering for 50 distinguished global
leaders and experts from business, civil society, and the public sector to work with the CGI team to develop the priorities and
goals for CGI and their members in 2009. It was a preparation for the Fifth Anniversary CGI Meeting this September.
The participants of the meeting included William Jefferson
Clinton, 42nd President of the United States and Founding Chairman of Clinton Global Initiative, Justin Yifu Lin, Senior Vice
President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, Margaret McKenna, President of The Wal-Mart Foundation, Dr. James Mwangi,
Managing Director and Chief Executive of Officer of Equity Bank Limited, Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft
Corporation among others. The Clinton Global Initiative 2009 (CGI) is pleased to announce special Annual Meeting programming on the topic of Investing
in Girls and Women. President Clinton and CGI members have shown an ongoing interest in this important issue, which cuts across the global challenge
areas of education, energy and climate change, global health, and poverty alleviation, and also provides an entry point into
four Action Areas – Harnessing Innovation for Development, Financing a Sustainable Future, Developing Human Capital,
and Strengthening Infrastructure
sayings by Fazle Abed
Small may be beautiful but for Bangladesh large scale is absolutely essential Social Business =
commercially viable organisation organically linked to poverty alleviation and one whose surplus benefits the organisation
rather than shareholders
One of our early breakthroughs came from Paulo Freiere.
. Without his ideas we would have assumed that teaching meant an instructor imparting knowledge, instructing people. Freiere’s
idea is teaching literacy and conscientiizing people at the same time. He gave us the idea that knowledge can be created through
discussion, action and reflection, and so BRAC’s whole idea of training changed. That was the first connection from
training to conscientization.
Speeches by Fazle Hasan
1. "The Complementary Role of Civil Society Organisations in Government" - This speech was delivered by
Fazle Hasan Abed at the launch of the South Asia Human Development Report, 1999, in Dhaka on September 19, 1999.
2. Lecture: Development - This lecture on development was delivered by Fazle Hasan Abed at
the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands on October
3. Speech: BRAC University - This speech was delivered by Fazle Hasan Abed at the inauguration of BRAC University in Dhaka on June 16, 2001
. Let me conclude by
reciting what the great Chinese philosopher Confucius had said about knowledge and development two and a half thousand years
When knowledge is extended.
the will becomes sincere.
When the will is sincere.
the mind is correct.
When the mind is correct.
the self is cultivated.
When the self is cultivated,
the clan is harmonized.
When the clan is harmonized,
the country is well governed.
When the country is will governed,
there will be peace throughout the land.
BRAC University's advisory committee
and those who have contributed to the University's preparatory phase. In this connection, I should like to convey my grateful
Mr. Faruq A. Choudhury, Adviser BRAC
Syeduzzaman, former Finance Minister
Prof. Derek Bok,
former President of Harvard University
Chen of Rockefeller Foundation
Mr. Francis Sutton of
Prof. Hafiz G. A. Siddiqi of North South University
Dr. Riaz Khan, formerly of BRAC and
David Fraser, former President of Swarthmore College
am grateful to them.
Here I also wish to recall with
deep gratitude the guidance that was initially provided by the late Professor David Bell of Harvard University whose recent passing away has been a great loss to us.
Interviews of Fazle Hasan Abed:
1. Interview with Fazle Hasan Abed: The Daily Star. - This interview with Fazle Hasan Abed appeared in The Daily Star, a Daily Bangladeshi newspaper on April 9, 1999.
2. Interview with Fazle Hasan Abed: RESULTS. - This interview with Fazle Hasan Abed was taken by RESULTS during one of Abed’s visits to the United States
3. Interview with Fazle Hasan Abed: New Age. - Through the Eyes of Fazle Hasan Abed: Soldiering
Development all the Way. - This interview with Fazle Hasan Abed appeared in the daily Bangladeshi newspaper New Age on August 27, 2004
4. Interview with Fazle Hasan Abed: IFPRI forum. - Chairperson's interview in IFPRI forum (Volume I, 2009)
FORUM: BRAC has recently expanded to several
countries in Africa. In what ways do lessons
from your experiences in Bangladesh apply
and not apply in the African context?
Abed: The key elements of BRAC's approach to comprehensive rural development and poverty alleviation
are piloting in response to an emerging challenge; learning, adapting and innovating from the experience; and scaling up to
achieve national-level impact. BRAC believes in flexibility in operations, attention to detail, learning from mistakes, necessity
for change, continuous training for capacity enhancement of staff, and sensitivity to local cultural values and customs. These
principles and values have been helpful guides in BRAC operations outside Bangladesh. The ground realities within which BRAC's approach evolved are widespread poverty, governance
failure, the uncertainties and frustrations of post-conflict political environments, deep inequities, weak and missing markets
that fail to serve the poor, and unnecessary and preventable deaths. Despite complex differences across countries and cultures,
we felt our experiences of working with the poor in these realities and the relatively lower cost of using experienced Bangladeshi
staff for training locals at the initial stage of replication gave us an edge over many organizations working in international
Before we started work in Africa, we went to Afghanistan in 2002. By 2005, we were inspired by our ability to adapt
the BRAC approach to Afghan ground realities, by the positive response from local leaders and people, and by the rapid expansion
of operations within a short span of time. We felt that we may have something to offer from our combined experiences in Bangladesh and Afghanistan to further energize and accelerate poverty-alleviation efforts in other countries of the South.
It is this spirit of South-South camaraderie that drives and underpins our overseas work.
The African context itself is widely varied. We work in relatively stable and growing economies
such as Uganda and
Tanzania. We also work in post-conflict
countries with their own diverse complexities, such as Southern Sudan, and recently in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Our entry
point is the microfinance program, which allows us to build the outreach and the community-level social infrastructure on
which we build other activities in healthcare services and agriculture. Making an impact at the national level is one of the
core objectives driving our work in Africa.
With the strong track record of our work in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, our willingness and ability to adapt and deliver,
and the strong support of many top leaders in African countries as well as of donor agencies, civil-society leaders, and think
tanks in developed countries, we feel that we can create effective pro-poor evelopment and an alliance with a southern
FORUM: BRAC has participated in partnerships with the private sector. What kids of innovations do you see emerging from
the private sector? How can the private sector be more engaged in reaching the poor in ways that benefit both business and
Abed: BRAC has never shied away from entering into the private-sector domain as a pro-poor actor, to create more secure
and rewarding links between the market and the livelihoods of the poor. This has led BRAC to venture into many frontier-market
developments that create backward and forward linkages to the enterprises of the poor. BRAC experiments in high-risk ventures
have sometimes shown the private sector ways to invest in a new area.
For instance, when BRAC started introducing highyielding poultry as an enterprise for poor women borrowers,
it soon became apparent that a timely supply of quality day-old chicks was a major constraint, which led BRAC to set up hatcheries
that are run commercially.
Another constraint was high-quality
poultry feed; that led BRAC to engage in marketing imported hybrid maize seeds, and setting up feed mills. A whole system
of logistics management had to be woven around these enterprises to connect to the poultry business of the poor. This is why
at BRAC we like to refer to our commercial enterprises as ‘program-support enterprises.’ Such an approach to building
viable private-sector enterprises as a pro-poor actor with the explicit aim of poverty alleviation requires an innovative
structure of ownership and governance. The private sector’s partnership with NGOs is driven mainly by two factors: commercial
and regulatory compliance. The most important issue that stands in the way of a meaningful and sustainable partnership is
the fact that markets do not attach any premium to “socially responsible” behavior by corporations. This results
in traditional private-sector actors concentrating mostly on financial parameters and compliance, which is rewarded by the
market. The real potential of a meaningful and sustainable partnership will perhaps emerge from NGOs pioneering sustainable
businesses that fulfill a social need and the private sector partnering to bring in core competencies in terms of innovations
in products, processes, and financial discipline. This will create efficiencies that will ensure longer-term sustainability.
BRAC’s investment in BRAC Bank Limited (BBL), which focuses on creating
access to finance for small and medium enterprises, can be seen as an example. BBL started as a closely held company, with
BRAC, Shorecap (a U.S.-based investment company), and the IFC as sponsors. Shorecap, which has experience in this sector,
and BRAC, which has a strong background in financing microenterprises, leveraged their synergies to the benefit of BBL. Today,
BBL is a public limited company that is considered a pioneer and a role model in the field of smalland medium-enterprise financing.
Articles by Fazle Hasan Abed:
1. "The Emergence and Present Status of NGOs in Bangladesh:
A BRAC Perspective" - This article by Fazle
Hasan Abed appeared in The Weekly Holiday on December 2, 2002
2. "Bangladesh: Realities of People's Lives" - This article by Fazle
Hasan Abed appeared in The State of the World's Children, 1988, a UNICEF publication
Some of Abed's selected publications are:
1. “Promoting Popular Participation:
Some Issues”, in: Participatory Development and the World Bank: Potential Directions for Change, Washington,
D.C., The World Bank, 1992.
2. “Coping with Disasters: From Diarrhea to Cyclone”. In K.M. Cahill (ed.): A Framework for Survival,
New York, Basic Books and Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 1993.
3. “Household teaching of ORT in rural Bangladesh”,
Assignment Children (New York), volume 61/62 (UNICEF), 1993.
4. “Social mobilization for EPI in Bangladesh”: In: M. Haq. (ed.) Near
Miracle in Bangladesh, University Press Ltd., Dhaka, 1991 (Co-author).
5. “Credit for the rural poor: The case of BRAC in Bangladesh.” Small
Enterprise Development: Vol-2, No.-3, 1991.
6. “Controlling a forgotten disease: using VHWS for tuberculosis control in
rural Bangladesh”, Bulletin of the IUALTD, 1991 (Co-author).
7. “Oral dehydration therapy: a community trial comparing the acceptability
of home made sucrose and cereal-based solutions”, Bulletin of World Health Organisation, 1991 (Co-author).
8. "Role of NGOs in international
health". In: M. Reich and E. Marui (eds.): International Cooperation for Health, Auburn House Publishing Company,
Dover, Massachusetts (USA), 1989 (Co-author).
9. "Scaling up in health: two decades of learning". In: J. Rohde et. al. (eds.):
Reaching Health for All, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1991 (Co-author).
10. From Disaster to Development, University Press
Ltd., 1992 (Co-editor).
"Demystifying the control of tuberculosis in rural Bangladesh". In: JM Grange and J. Porter (eds.) Tuberculosis
– An interdisciplinary Perspective, London, Imperial College Press, 1999 (Co-author).
Abed currently holds
the following board appointments:
2005 – Commissioner, UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP)
• 2002 - Global Chairperson, International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions
- Chairman, Board of Directors, BRAC Bank Limited
• 2001 - President, The Governing Board of BRAC University
• 2000 - Chairman, Governing Body, BRAC
• 1998 - Member, Policy Advisory Group, The Consultative Group to
Assist the Poorest (CGAP), The World Bank, Washington,
1994 - Member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka
• 1993 - Chairperson, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK),
a human rights organisation
1992 - Chairman, NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation
• 1990 - Chairman, ‘Campaign for Popular Education’ (CAMPE), an NGO network
The fact that Abed has turned his large organisation, with an annual budget of US $ 436 million, 78% self-financing,
speaks of his financial acumen and superb management skills. In recognition of his services to society Fazle Hasan Abed has
received numerous awards and recognition both nationally and internationally, including:
• The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980)
• Unesco Noma Prize for
• Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award (1990)
• Unicef's Maurice Pate Award (1992)
Doctorate of Laws from Queen's University Canada (1994)
Palme Award (2001)
• Social Entrepreneurship Award by the Schwab Foundation (2002)
• Gleitsman Foundation
• Honorary Doctorate of Education, University of Manchester, UK (2003)
Award for Global Health (2004)
• UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development (2004)
Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Lifetime Achievement in Social Development and Poverty Alleviation (2007)
R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007)
• Doctorate of Humane Letters, Yale University (2007)
All his colleagues at BRAC, he likes
to point out, share these honors with him.
Glimpses of his lifelong efforts, success and achievements can be gleaned from the citations of some of
the awards and recognitions that Abed has received:
The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership: “in recognition
of his organisational skill in demonstrating that Bangladesh
solutions are valid for needs of the rural poor in his burdened country.”
The Olof Palme Award of Sweden: “his pioneering work in combating poverty and empowering the poor, especially women. This has
been done by initiating and developing BRAC into one of the world’s largest NGO.”
Queen’s University (Canada): “dedicated to improving the quality of life for the landless poor of rural Bangladesh, Abed transmits values to an army of selfless dedicated young men and women working tirelessly in difficult
environment of rural villages to realize a dream for their nation.”
University of Manchester: “People around the world who are trying to understand poverty and how it might be reduced, turn
to Mr. Abed who has not only built an organisation but also has been creating useful knowledge and disseminating ideas….
If you want to know the state of the art in providing sustainable microfinance and services to poor and how to reach and assist
the ultra poor or how to help oppressed women achieve their human rights, you have to look at BRAC, its ideas and its systematic
approach to learning from experience.”
Gates Award for Global Health (2004): “BRAC has done what few
others have – they have achieved success on a massive scale, bringing life-saving health programmes to millions of the
world’s poorest people,” said Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They remind
us that even the most intractable health problems are solvable, and inspire us to match their success throughout the developing
UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award
for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development 2004: “Fazle Hasan Abed is being
recognised for his extraordinary achievements in helping the rural poor to combat hunger, disease and illiteracy on a massive
Henry R. Kravis Prize in
Leadership 2007: “Today’s outstanding leaders in the not-for-profit arena
also possess many of the same skills required of the most effective entrepreneurs in the for-profit business world. The Kravis
Prize was established to celebrate their vision, boldness, and determination. Fazle Abed is such a leader."
Yale University: "With single-minded determination, you have given the poor the means to achieve economic independence,
always demonstrating respect for the dignity of every citizen. Your organisation is now offering hope for developing nations
throughout the world."
Fazle Abed http://www.brac.net/index.php?nid=104
Born in 1936 in Bangladesh,
Abed was educated in Dhaka and Glasgow Universities. The 1971 Liberation
War of Bangladesh had a profound effect on Abed, then in his thirties, a professional accountant who was holding a senior
Corporate Executive's position at Shell Oil in Chittagong.
The war dramatically changed the direction of his life. In the face of the brutality and agony of war, the comforts and perks
of a Corporate Executive's life ceased to have any attraction for him. As the then East
Pakistan was under virtual occupation, Fazle Hasan Abed left his job and went to London to devote himself to Bangladesh's War of Independence. There, Abed helped initiate a campaign called Help Bangladesh to organise funds
for the war effort and raise awareness in the world about the genocide in Bangladesh.
The war over, Abed returned
to the newly independent Bangladesh to find the economy
of his country in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started trekking back into the country. Their relief and rehabilitation called for
urgent efforts. Abed decided to initiate his own by setting up BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) to rehabilitate
returning refugees in a remote area in a northeastern district of Bangladesh. This work led him and his organisation BRAC
into dealing with the long-term task of improving the living conditions of the rural poor. This experience strengthened Abed’s
belief that the poor cannot be expected to organise themselves on their own because of economic insecurity, illiteracy and
general lack of confidence. The process of social mobilisation, he felt, must be accompanied by measures to remove these handicaps.
Hence, his policy was directed to help the poor develop their capacity to manage and control their own destiny. Thus Alleviation
of Poverty and Empowerment of the Poor emerged as BRAC's primary objectives.
In a span of only three decades, BRAC grew to become the largest Non-Governmental Development Organisation
(NGO) in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions. As BRAC grew, Abed ensured that it targeted the
landless poor, particularly women in rural Bangladesh,
a large percentage of whom live below the poverty line with no access to resources and to whom the fruits of conventional
development do not even trickle down.
BRAC now works in more than 69 thousand villages of Bangladesh covering over an estimated 110 million poor people in
the field of income generation, health care, population control, primary education for children and the like. Abed felt that
in the face of the enormity of Bangladesh's problems
BRAC had to think big and act on a large canvas. Thus from as early as the early eighties, BRAC worked on a national scale,
for example, in reaching oral-rehydration therapy to 13 million homes in a country where diarrhea used to take tens of thousands
of lives every year.
Abed looks at poverty from a holistic
viewpoint. He believes that poverty has to be viewed not only in terms of insufficient income or an absence of employment
opportunities but also as a complex syndrome that manifests itself in many different forms. In Abed's multidimensional poverty
reduction approach, there is no single anti-poverty panacea and therefore, a range of interventions, often at large scales,
comprises BRAC programmes. He also strongly believes that poverty cannot be eradicated without the reconstruction of gender
role in the society. Empowerment of women is thus a precondition for sustainable poverty alleviation. Abed has been promoting
a development culture with women at the forefront of all activities, be it micro-credit, health, or education. As a result,
about 6 million women have so far been organised into over 180,000 groups called Village Organisations. These form the base
of multifaceted programmes initiated by BRAC. The logic of these programmes is the creation of an 'enabling environment' in
which the poor can participate in their own development and in improving the quality of their lives. BRAC has so far disbursed
over US $ 3,900 million as micro-credit to 5 million people, mostly women, with a recovery rate of 98.7%. In 1985, BRAC’s
Social Development Programme, Human Rights and Legal Services component was introduced through which women are educated about
their legal rights and laws pertaining to family, marriage, and inheritance. Members also participate in a specially designed
saving scheme, which provides old age financial security.
health programme emanates from Abed's deep concern about disease and malnutrition that, he firmly believes, are major contributing
factors to poverty. Brac provides preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services to the rural poor and lessons learned
over the years have enabled BRAC to restructure the programme to cope with demands of national priority and policy. BRAC's
Health Programme now touches the lives of about 100 million people in Bangladesh.
Based on his conviction that
education is a basic human right and is essential to eliminate poverty, BRAC started its Non-formal Primary Education Programme
in 1985 with 22 one-room room primary schools with 30 students in each school. By now over 3.7 million children from poor
families have graduated from BRAC primary schools and at present over 1.5 million children, over 65% of whom are girls, are
studying in the 52,000 BRAC primary and pre-primary schools spread all over Bangladesh.
Many of the innovations pioneered by BRAC in education as well as in health, poverty eradication and
rural development have been replicated in many developing countries. Impact study of BRAC programmes shows a consistent improvement
in the quality of life of the rural poor. There is a new-formed confidence in rural Bangladesh based on knowledge and enlightenment, and the frequently experienced conditions of famine and epidemics
now have become things of the past. Responding to societal needs Abed’s recent projects include the BRAC University
(BU), which was launched in April 2001. BU was set up not only to impart knowledge, but also to act as a center of excellence
in knowledge creation through research that connects with practice. BRAC
University has recently established the James P. Grant
School of Public Health, another initiative of Abed, which aims to provide higher education of the highest quality in the
field of public health by utilising local resources as a field laboratory for experiential teaching and learning. In order
to strengthen the public sector, Abed has also established the Center for Governance studies at BRAC University, which offers a Masters
programme in Governance and Development for mid-level civil servants.
Among the commercial ventures under Abed’s vision, the BRAC Bank, inaugurated in 2001, functions
as a full-fledged commercial bank. It strives to promote broad-based participation in the Bangladesh economy by increasing access to economic opportunities for all individuals and businesses with a special
focus on Small & Medium Enterprises (SME). Other commercial ventures include Aarong - a retail outlet and Brac Dairy and
Food Project. Where member borrowers could face market failures, BRAC juxtaposed itself in order to institute better linkages
between consumers and poor rural producers. For instance Aarong, a successful brand name in Bangladesh today, markets the products of rural artisans; the BRAC Dairy was established to offer a fair price
to BRAC members who had invested their loans in cows and were facing barriers at the local markets. The profits from these
commercial ventures are plowed back into BRAC’s core development fund.
In 2002, BRAC went international. Abed realised that BRAC’s early experience in post-war reconstruction
of Bangladesh could be put to good use in order to help
a war-ravaged Afghanistan. It registered as a foreign
NGO in Afghanistan to rebuild the ancient country that
had sustained decades of conflict and war. Since then BRAC has expanded to 24 out of 34 provinces, modifying and designing
programmes to fit the specific needs of the Afghan people. BRAC has also established the BRAC Afghanistan Bank, a full service
commercial bank with a special focus on the Small and Medium Enterprise sector. In 2004 BRAC also registered as a foreign
NGO in Sri Lanka to help the country back on its feet
after its east coastal provinces were virtually destroyed by the devastating Tsunami.
BRAC After the successful introduction of BRAC’s international initiatives in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, BRAC launched
its development programmes in eastern Africa in June
2006. BRAC has started programmes in Tanzania and Uganda and has been registered in Southern
Sudan. BRAC will introduce its unique integrated development approach for poverty reduction
in these countries by incorporating health, water and sanitation components along with micro-finance schemes.
Constantly evolving, experimenting, and expanding, BRAC is a symbol of determination
and dynamism. Bangladesh still suffers from poverty
and disease, but BRAC remains steadfast in its commitment to help people fight back. Indeed marked improvements have also
been noted in Bangladesh. The economy has grown by more
than 5% a year over the last ten years, the number of people living in poverty has dropped 20%, the literacy rate has doubled,
infant mortality has been cut by more than half, and life expectancy has risen by 13 years. In all of this BRAC’s contribution
With a strong underpinning of an orderly but decentralised
system, Abed transmits values to more than 100 thousand dedicated women and men of his organisation who work tirelessly in
the difficult rural environment and urban slums of Bangladesh. Firmly committed to improve the conditions of the poor, Abed
and his organisation have been fighting the long, hard and sustained battle against all that afflict the impoverished millions
in Bangladesh from malnutrition to child mortality,
unemployment to population growth, from illiteracy to social injustice. The success of BRAC's efforts can be attributed to
the very people it serves, their resilience and resourcefulness in the face of unbelievable odds. In Abed's words, “Civilisation
is not of a few great individuals---it is the cumulative actions of all people together, great and small”.
Three and a half decades on, BRAC staff and members still look to Abed for more groundbreaking innovations and unique,
visionary ideas and Abed is still insatiable in his thirst for “doing more.” As he has said in an interview in
2004, “If I were thirty-five now instead of sixty-eight, I would do so many other things that I haven’t done...Now
at the twilight of my life, I feel that I must complete all the things that I have started.”
The BRAC Governing Body consists of sixteen members. They
are highly distinguished professionals, activists and entrepreneurs who are elected to the Governing Body and bring their
diverse skills and experience to the governance of BRAC. Four meetings of the Governing Body and an Annual General Meeting
of the General Body was held in 2008.
BRAC Governing Body Members (2008 - 2009)
sustainable banking conferenceHari BhambraSenior Partner, Praesidium LLPHari Bhambra is a Senior Partner at Praesidium
LLP. Praesidium is accredited by theprestigious SII to offer the Islamic Finance Qualification and the DIFC Rules and Regulations.Mrs Bhambra was part of the development
and drafting team of both the FSA (London) andDFSA (DIFC). She drafted parts of both regulatory structures including the development ofthe supervisory philosophy of both regulators.She was the architect of the DIFC Shari’a
Systems Regulatory Model and the key driver of the1st Mutual Recognition model for cross border flows of Shari’a compliant capital marketproducts. She is the author of the DIFC
Guide to Islamic Finance and is also a member of theDIFC Islamic Finance Advisory Council (IFAC). Mrs Bhambra received her commercial trainingat top Investment bank Goldman Sachs International,
is a Postgraduate in Law and she received her LLB Hons (2:1) from the University of EastLondon, her LLM (Merit) from University College London and her Diploma in Legal Practicefrom the prestigious College of Law, London. She has authored
many articles on IslamicFinance
and speaks on the subject at events held across the globe. She receives Shari’a
from scholars in Egypt