Central European University has awarded the 18th Open Society Prize to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, recipient of the Kravis Prize in 2007, and the affiliated BRAC University, at its commencement ceremony in June.
The Open Society Prize, which is given “to an outstanding individual whose achievements have contributed substantially to the creation of an open society,” has been awarded at past ceremonies to a multitude of prominent world figures, including: Sir Karl Popper, author of The Open Society and its Enemies; Vaclav Havel, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic; Richard Holbrooke, the late senior U.S. diplomat; and Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations.
During his acceptance speech, Abed described his early experiences with BRAC and reflected on the lessons that he has learned along the way with the organization:
“After my country’s independence, I began working to try to help the poor of Bangladesh. My early colleagues and I initially thought that BRAC would be a short-term relief effort. But the realities of entrenched poverty soon changed our minds. I have learned much along the way. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that when you create the right conditions, poor people will do the hard work of defeating poverty themselves.”