Monday, June 1, 2009


Infobox Non-profit
Non-profit_name = BRAC
Non-profit_type = Non-profit
foundation = 1972
location = DhakaBangladesh
key_people = Fazle Hasan Abed, founder
industry = International Development
products = Microfinance
Environmental Programs
Social development Programs
Economic development Programs
revenue = profit 15,141,608,631 Taka (2007) ($223,929,131 USD) []
num_employees = 100,000 (2007) []
homepage =
BRAC ( _bn. ব্র্যাক), (formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), based in Bangladesh, is one of the world's largest non-governmental development organizations.Fact|date=August 2008 Established by Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 soon after the liberation of Bangladesh, BRAC is currently present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh, with over 7 million micro-finance group members, 37,500 non-formal primary schools and more than 70,000 health volunteers. BRAC is the largest NGO by number of staff employing over 120,000 people, the majority of whom are women. BRAC operates various programs such as those in microfinance and education in over nine countries across Asia and Africa, reaching more than 110 million people. The organization is 80% self-funded through a number of commercial enterprises that include a dairy and food project and a chain of retail handicraft stores called ‘Aarong.’ BRAC maintains offices in 14 countries throughout the world, including BRAC USA and BRAC UK. BRAC is a few years into their initiative to operate in ten African countries in the next ten years. [Annual Report, 2007]
BRAC tackles poverty from a holistic viewpoint, transitioning individuals from being aid recipients to becoming empowered citizens in control of their own destinies. Over the years, BRAC has organized the isolated poor and learned to understand their needs by piloting, refining and scaling up practical ways to increase their access to resources, support their entrepreneurship and empower them to become active agents of change. Women and girls have been the central analytical lens of BRAC’s anti-poverty approach; BRAC recognizes both their vulnerabilities and thirst for change. BRAC always strives to find practical and scalable approaches to eradicate poverty wherever it is. [BRAC=Action, 2007]
Known at the time as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC was initiated in 1972 by Fazle Hasan Abed at Sulla in the district of Sylhet as a small-scale relief and rehabilitation project to help returning war refugees after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. In nine months, 14 thousand homes were rebuilt as part of the relief effort. Several hundred boats were also built for the fishermen. Medical centres were opened and other essential services were ensured. [Annual Report, 1990, BRAC] .At the end of 1972, when the first phase of relief work was over, BRAC turned towards long-term development needs and re-organised itself as a multifaceted development organisation focusing on the empowerment of the poor and landless, particularly women and children.
By 1974, BRAC had started providing microcredit and had started analyzing the usefulness of credit inputs in the lives of the poor. Till the mid 70s, BRAC concentrated on community development through multi-sectoral village development programmes that included agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives, rural crafts, adult literacy, health and family planning, vocational training for women and construction of community centres. A Research and Evaluation Division (RED) was set up by BRAC in 1975 to analyze and evaluate its activities and provide direction for the organisation to expand and evolve. In 1977, BRAC shifted from community development towards a more targeted approach by organizing village groups called Village Organizations (VO). This approach targeted the poorest of the poor – the landless, small farmers, artisans, and vulnerable women. Those who own less than half an acre of land and survive by selling manual labor were regarded as BRAC’s target group. That same year BRAC set up a commercial printing press to help finance its activities. The handicraft retail chain called Aarong, was established the following year.
In 1979, BRAC entered the health field in a major way. It established the nation-wide Oral Therapy Extension Programme (OTEP), a campaign to combat diarrhoea, the leading cause of the high child mortality rate in Bangladesh. Over a ten-year period 1,200 BRAC workers went door-to-door to teach 12 million mothers the preparation of home-made oral saline. Bangladesh today has one of the highest rates of usage of oral rehydration, and BRAC’s campaign cut down child and infant mortality from 285 per thousand to 75 per thousand. [Chowdhury, M., & Cash, R., A Simple Solution, 1996.] This initial success in scaling up propelled rapid expansion of other BRAC programmes such as Non Formal Primary Education which BRAC started in 1985 – a model that has been replicated in about a dozen countries.
In 1986 BRAC started its Rural Development Programme that incorporated four major activities – institution building including functional education and training, credit operation, income and employment generation and support service programmes. In 1991 the Women’s Health Development programme commenced. The following year BRAC established a Centre for Development Management (CDM) in Rajendrapur. Its' Social Development, Human Rights and Legal Services Programme was launched in 1996 with the aim to empower women with legal rights and assist them in becoming involved with community and ward level organizations. In 1998, BRAC’s Dairy and Food project was commissioned. BRAC launched an Information Technology Institute the following year. In 2001, BRAC established a university called BRAC University with the aim to create future leaders and the BRAC Bank was started to cater primarily to small and medium entreprises.
In 2002 BRAC launched a programme called Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction – Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP) designed specifically for those that BRAC defines as the ultra poor - the extreme poor who cannot access conventional microfinance. The same year BRAC also went into Afghanistan with relief and rehabilitation programmes. It was the first organization in Bangladesh to establish, in 2004, the office of an Ombudsperson.
Development activities
quote=BRAC has done what few others have – they have achieved success on a massive scale, bringing life-saving health programs to millions of the world's poorest people. They remind us that even the most intractable health problems are solvable, and inspire us to match their success throughout the developing world.
source=Bill Gates, Co-chair|Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Award, 2004|
Economic Development
BRAC’s Economic Development programme includes microcredit, and at present it is prominent among the biggest NGOs in terms of microcredit activities. It provides collateral-free credit using a solidarity lending methodology, as well as obligatory savings schemes through its Village Organisations. Reaching nearly 4 million borrowers, Village Organizations provide different levels of loans to different poverty groups. Through a recent initiative, BRAC has reached out also to those who, due to extreme poverty cannot access microfinance. BRAC defines such people suffering from extreme poverty as the 'ultra poor', and has designed a programme customized for this group that combines subsidy with enterprise development training, healthcare, social development and asset transfer, eventually pulling the ultra poor into its mainstream microfinance programme.
In addition to Microfinance, BRAC provides sector-specific enterprise training and support to its member borrowers in poultry and livestock, fisheries, social forestry, agriculture and sericulture. It also provides supply of inputs essential for certain enterprises through its ‘Programme Support Enterprises’ that include Poultry farm and disease diagnostic laboratory, Bull Station, Feed Mill, Broiler Production and Marketing, Seed Production, Processing, Marketing and Soil Testing, BRAC Nursery, and Fish and Prawn Hatchery. BRAC’s Vegetable Export programme started in 1998 is a venture that is aimed at bridging the gap between local producers and international markets. [ Annual Report, 2005, BRAC] BRAC also has a number of commercial programmes that contribute to the sustainability of BRAC’s development programmes since returns from the commercial programmes are channeled back into BRAC’s development activities. These programmes include Aarong, a retail handicraft chain, BRAC Dairy and Food Project, and BRAC Salt.
BRAC’s Non-Formal Primary Education programme provides five-year primary education course in four years to poor, rural, disadvantaged children and drop-outs who cannot access formal schooling. These one-room schools are for children between eight and fourteen years of age. Each school typically consists of 33 students and one teacher. Core subjects include Mathematics, Social Studies and English. The schools also offer extracurricular activities. As of June 2008, 37,500 Primary Schools and 24,750 Pre-Primary schools have been established by BRAC enrolling nearly 3 million children, 65% of whom are girls. The schools have a drop-out rate of less than 5%. [BRAC At a Glance, June 2006]
BRAC has set up centres for adolescents called Kishori Kendra that provide reading material and serve as a gathering place for adolescents where they are educated about issues sensitive to the Bangladeshi society like reproductive health, early marriage, women’s legal rights etc. BRAC has also set up community libraries 185 out of 964 of which are equipped with computers. [Annual Report, 2005; BRAC]
Public health
BRAC started providing public healthcare in 1972 with an initial focus on curative care through paramedics and a self-financing health insurance scheme. The programme went on to offer integrated health care services, its key achievements including the reduction of child mortality rates through campaign for oral rehydration in the 80s and taking immunization from 2% to 70% in Bangladesh. BRAC currently provides a range of services that reach an estimated 31 million rural poor and include services for mothers in reproductive health care and infants. As of December 2007, 70,000 community health volunteers and 18,000 health workers have been trained and mobilized by BRAC to deliver door-to-door health care services to the rural poor. It has established 37 static health centres and a Limb and Brace Fitting Centre that provides low cost devices and services for the physically disabled. {BRAC At a Glance, June 2006}
In partnership with the government of Bangladesh, BRAC is implementing a Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) strategy to treat Tuberculosis in Bangladesh. Its other major partnership programmes with the government and/or other organizations include programmes in malaria prevention and control and arsenic mitigation. BRAC’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, among BRAC’s new initiatives, plans to achieve the target set forth by the government of Bangladesh to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of improved hygienic practices and supply of safe water by the year 2014. Also one of BRAC’s new initiatives is its HIV/AIDS programme addresses awareness raising activities among the generation population including education of couples, adolescent boys and girls, high-risk groups and promotes use of condoms. BRAC also provides treatment for STI/RTI and consumption loans to brothel-based sex workers to empower them for compliance to condom use.
ocial Development
In 1996, BRAC started a programme in collaboration with the Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK) and Bangladesh National Women Leader’s Association (BNWLA) to empower women to protect themselves from social discrimination and exploitation of which dowry, rape, acid throwing, polygamy, domestic violence and oral divorce are common in rural Bangladeshi communities and to encourage and assist them to take action when their rights are infringed. The programme has two components: the Social Development component and the Human Rights and Legal Services component.
The Social Development component, focuses on building human and socio-political assets of the poor – especially women – through institution building, awareness raising, training and collective social mobilization. As part of this initiative, BRAC has initiated ward-level people’s organizations called the Polli Shomaj (Rural Society) and Union Shomaj (Union Society) which poor rural women members can use as a platform to raise their voices.
The Human Rights and Legal Services component seeks to empower the poor by increasing their awareness of their rights (legal, human and social) and entitlements through participation in activities like the Popular Theatre and through Human Rights and Legal Education (HRLE) classes arranged by BRAC for its Village Organisation members. BRAC also offers external services such as access to lawyers or the police either through legal aid clinics, by helping women report cases at the local police station or when seeking medical care in the case of acid victims. At the end of June 2006, 124,748 HRLE classes were held and 1,332 acid victim cases and 1,735 rape victim cases were reported. {BRAC At a Glance, June 2006}
Disaster Relief
BRAC conducted one of the largest NGO responses to Cyclone Sidr which hit vast areas of the south-western coast in Bangladesh in mid-November 2007. BRAC distributed emergency relief materials, including food and clothing, to over 900,000 survivors, provided medical care to over 60,000 victims and secured safe supplies of drinking water. BRAC is now focusing on long-term rehabilitation, which will include agriculture support, infrastructure reconstruction and livelihood regeneration. [Annual Report, 2007]
BRAC Abroad
BRAC registered in Afghanistan in 2002 and covers 23 out of 34 provinces. Its major programmes in Afghanistan include Microfinance (funding from MISFA), Health, Education, National Solidarity and Capacity Development. Its Microfinance Program currently has 429 branch offices that have disbursed more than USD 96 million to over 179,000 members. BRAC now runs nearly 2,371 schools with 105,852 students, most of whom are girls. BRAC Afghanistan has 3,617 community health workers and 1,390 poultry and livestock extension workers. It has also established two Training and Resource Centres in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. BRAC’s staff in Afghanistan includes 3,463 local and 180 expatriates. {Annual Report, 2007}
ri Lanka
BRAC registered in Sri Lanka in 2005 following the devastating Tsunami and initiated relief and rehabilitation activities. Its rehabilitation and livelihood programmes in Sri Lanka covers three districts and 43 divisions. BRAC’s work in Sri Lanka so far includes the fisheries, agriculture, poultry and livestock, small business, income-generation activities, education and health sectors. It currently employs 312 staff. {BRAC At a Glance, December 2007}
BRAC expanded into Pakistan in 2007 and now covers six districts. BRAC Pakistan currently employs 337 staff members that work in 35 offices that are set up in various locations throughout the country. The Microfinance Program supports 837 village organizations that have over 14,544 members. To date, BRAC Pakistan has disbursed over $1,350,000 {BRAC at a Glance, December 2007}
BRAC Tanzania, established in 2006, has created over 2,700 microfinance village organizations with over 80,000 members and already disbursed more than $17 million. Over 480 community health promoters, 380 agriculture program volunteers and 436 poultry and livestock volunteers have been trained. {Annual Report, 2007}
BRAC Uganda’s Microfinance Program has formed over 2,145 village organizations with 59,844 members. To date, the program has cumulatively disbursed $14.8 million with a repayment rate of 100%. BRAC Uganda has also trained 200 community health promoters and opened 122 learning centers in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps that have enrolled nearly 20,704 learners. {Annual Report, 2007}
outhern Sudan
In 2007, BRAC started operations in Southern Sudan. The microfinance program, which consists primarily of returning war refugees, has already formed 220 village organizations with over 8,400 members. The cumulative disbursement in 2008 was $1,313,150. BRAC Southern Sudan has also initiated a community-based health program under which community health organizers and health promoters receive training. {Annual Report, 2007}
West Africa
BRAC is planning to expand its programs into Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of 2008. {Annual Report, 2007}
Partnership with the Nike Foundation
BRAC is collaborating with Nike’s [ "Girl Effect"] campaign to launch a new program to reach out to teenagers in Uganda and Tanzania. The Employment and Livelihood for Adolescents program has been successful in Bangladesh and BRAC is now adapting and piloting this program in Africa. [cite news|title = Nike Foundation and Buffetts join to invest $100 million in girls | url = | date = 2008-05-28 | author = New York Media Relations ]
Countries Where BRAC Operates
* Asia: BangladeshAfghanistanSri LankaPakistan
* Africa: UgandaTanzaniaSouthern SudanLiberiaSierra Leone
* BRAC has Technical Advisors in HaitiIndia, and Indonesia
* BRAC has affiliate organizations in the United Kingdom and U.S.
BRAC Awards
* The Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, 2008
* Independence Award (Shadhinata Puroshkar), 2007
* Gates Award for Global Health, 2004 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [ 2004 Gates Award for Global Health: BRAC] , Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.]
* CGAP Financial Transparency Award, 2005 & 2006 []
Fazle Hasan Abed's Awards
* The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, 1980. [ 1980 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership - Fazle Hasan Abed] , Ramon Magsaysay Foundation.]
* The Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award, 1990 []
* The Maurice Pate Award by UNICEF, 1992 []
* The Olof Palme Prize, 2001 []
* The Social Entrepreneurship Award by the Schwab Foundation, 2002 []
* The International Activist Award by the Gleitsman Foundation, 2003 []
* The United Nations Development Programme Mahbub ul Haq Award, 2004 [ Fazle Hasan Abed wins UNDP Award] , The Daily Star, 18 October, 2004.]
* The Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, 2007 []
* The inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award, 2007 []
* The David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award, 2008
ee also
Fazle Hasan Abed
NGOs in Bangladesh
** Grameen Bank
** ASA (NGO)
BRAC University
Solidarity lending
Further reading
*"The impact of micro-credit on poverty:evidence from Bangladesh", by M. Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Dipak Ghosh,and Robert E. Wright.
External links
* [ BRAC web site]
* [ BRAC's YouTube Site]
* Forbes: [ Is Bigger Better?]
* New York Times: [ An Army of Housewives Battles TB in Bangladesh]
* Citigroup: [ Innovative BRAC Microcredit Securitization Honored in Bangladesh]
* BBC Radio profile of BRAC: [ Titans of Aid]
* PBS Rx for Survival: [ The Story of BRAC]
* [ BRAC’s Partnership with Nike’s Girl Effect]

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