“BRAC’s story is inextricably linked to Bangladesh’s story. We understood that if we could help people to realize their potential, that they would be their own actors in history, and write their own stories of triumph over adversity.”
Sir Fazle Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC
Fazle Abed founded the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in 1972. The organization began operations in a remote area of northeastern Bangladesh to provide relief and assistance to refugees returning from India after Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Over the last several decades, Abed has led BRAC’s expansion across Bangladesh with a holistic and multifaceted approach to serving the poor. In addition to its work in Bangladesh, BRAC recently expanded operations into Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Southern Sudan. BRAC’s mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease, and social injustice.
Under Abed’s leadership, BRAC has grown into one of the largest development organizations in the world, serving more than 130 million people per year and achieving extraordinary impact in reducing poverty and empowering the poor.
Fazle Abed was born in Bangladesh and educated at Dhaka and Glasgow Universities. Prior to founding BRAC, he spent a number of years in the private sector as a Shell Oil executive in Chittagong. His background in management led him to instill numerous best practices from the private sector across the organization, especially in the areas of finance, research and development, program design, marketing, and human resources. In 2014, Abed was ranked #32 in the Fortune’s list of The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
Current Operations of BRAC
BRAC operates major programs in microfinance and income generation, public health, education, and social development. BRAC’s microfinance program currently assists over 7 million borrowers and has disbursed $80 million to date in loans, with a 98 percent repayment rate. Through enterprise development, this program has created approximately three million new jobs. BRAC’s health program,a serving more than 120 million people, provides a wide range of preventive, curative, and rehabilitative health services. These range from basic health and nutrition assistance, to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, malaria mitigation, early childhood development, and neonatal health. More than 1.5 million children, 65 percent of whom are girls, are currently enrolled in over 20,000 pre-primary and 30,000 non-formal primary schools operated by BRAC’s education program. BRAC’s social development program promotes greater awareness of social, political, and economic issues, providing human rights and legal services, legal aid clinics, and platforms to discuss social and political issues affecting poor women in rural areas.
Approach and Distinguishing Features
BRAC programs are unique in their quality and long-term sustainability. They empower BRAC participants to maintain improvements in economic well being over the long-term. For example, the microfinance program allows borrowers to develop poultry-rearing enterprises that increase participants’ incomes by 138 percent. Notably, BRAC generates nearly 80 percent of its annual budget from its own operations and enterprises, including interest fees on micro-enterprise loans and revenues from craft shops, printing press, dairy projects, and various other enterprises.
Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership
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