BRAC assists “138 million of the poorest people in nine countries in Asia and Africa,” yet few people have ever heard of the global anti-poverty organization. BRAC began as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee but has expanded to multiple countries. Though BRAC is no longer an acronym, it has become a synonym for progress.
The organization works to alleviate poverty through empowerment. It is the largest global anti-poverty organization. BRAC provides opportunities for self-improvement, such as self-employment and financial aid. Its economic programs created 8.5 million self-employment opportunities, and BRAC has issued over $5 billion in micro-loans.
Education is key to mitigating poverty in future generations. The organization created over 66,000 schools to meet the needs of primary and pre-primary children. To date, the schools have graduated over 6.1 million students.
Furthermore, the organization itself employs over 125,000 people in Asia and Africa. Many of the employees are first time job holders, and BRAC teaches them necessary skills. “As a job-creator and employer of scale and diversity, we teach people the basics of customer service, and how to be productive employees,” said Susan Davis, President and CEO, BRAC USA.
BRAC engages diasporas for economic and social development. The organization realizes the value of local people. Instead of Americans instructing people on how to improve their communities, the organization starts by training people from the country in need. After successfully completing the program, trainers return home with new skill sets. These individuals communicate their success stories and encourage others to strive for better lives.
One of BRAC’s unique strengths involves creating new markets. The organization trains 100,000 health and other promoters to achieve self-employment. Promoters work with “legal services (property rights), poultry and livestock services, and energy services.” The jobs vary based on the specific needs of the communities. Each position interacts with people to teach vital subjects, such as agriculture, family planning, and disease prevention.
The organization “has remained relatively unknown in the West…because it developed on the local level in the poorest, most remote communities of Bangladesh.” It originated in communities and developed gradually. Fazle Hasan Abed created BRAC “when he was overwhelmed by the sight of death and extreme poverty among refugees returning to Bangladesh after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.” He fled the corporate life and employed all of his resources to launch BRAC. Today, his vision has improved the lives of millions of people. Talk about a visionary.
– Whitney M. Wyszynski
Source: Fast Company