When the war in Bangladesh ended in 1971, Fazle Abed sold his flat in London and returned to the newly independent Bangladesh to find his country in ruins. Ten million refugees who had sought shelter in India during the war had started to return home as well. Their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts, and Abed decided to use the funds he had generated from selling his flat to initiate his own organization to deal with the long-term task of improving the living conditions of the rural poor. The NGO he created for this purpose, BRAC, now operates in 70,000 villages in Bangladesh and affects an estimated 110 million people through its initiatives that range from primary education, essential healthcare, agricultural support and human rights/legal services to micro-finance and enterprise development. It is now considered the largest non-profit in the world – measured both by number of employees and people served.
BRAC’s vision is a world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination, where everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential. Its interventions aim to alleviate poverty on a large scale through economic and social programs. BRAC has created 8.5 million self-employment opportunities and distributed $5 billion in micro-loans to over six million borrowers. BRAC’s schools had 3.8 million students from primary schools and 2.3 million from pre-primary schools graduate, with nearly 1.8 million children currently enrolled in its 66,000 schools. Currently doing everything from training door-to-door health volunteers while implementing a mobile health project whereby volunteers can share real-time information about their patients, to running the thousands of informal BRAC Schools and giving almost 7 million people access to sanitary latrines, BRAC is in many ways a microcosm of the entire international development sector. Unlike most of its overseas counterparts, however, BRAC covers almost 80% of its $485 million budget through a number of social enterprises, including a dairy project, a chain of retail handicraft stores, a pioneering poultry venture and commercial fish farming.
Web site: http://www.brac.net/