July 2, 2015
BLOG General

Honouring 43 years of fighting poverty in Bangladesh

One of the high points of my career was the five years I spent in Bangladesh in the early 1990’s as the Ford Foundation’s country representative, watching the emergence of BRAC as one of the world’s largest and most innovative non-profit organisations. Today, however, I am delighted to join many others who have come to know this organisation, in celebrating BRAC and Fazle Abed, its founder, as the 2015 awardee of the prestigious World Food Prize.
June 21, 2015

Beyond the red light: How BRAC works with socially-neglected groups

Taking on the challenge of reaching out to children of families who face social exclusion, BRAC’s education programme has reached out to the children of sex workers. My visit to a school in Douladia showed me what it means to work with a group that is socially neglected.
June 15, 2015

Is sports really a good tool to get girls talking about sexual and reproductive health?

Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
May 6, 2015

Listening for the voices of change: Here’s some advice for Bangladesh’s youth

In Bangladesh, far too many students do not get the chance to go to college. In a country where 30 per cent of the population are young (10-24 years), it remains evident that much of the potential remain untapped, and too many young voices go unheard.  Medhabikash, a scholarship programme that funds meritorious and underprivileged students, offers a second chance at learning- the kind that transcends social and economic boundaries.
February 6, 2015
BRAC microfinance clients in Bangladesh

Studies on microcredit’s impact remain inconclusive. Where do we go from here?

Microcredit alone may not transform many people’s lives. But it can be a part of the equation that does. Poverty is a multi-dimensional issue that requires a multi-dimensional approach. Why then do impact studies on microcredit search for transformative effects of what is essentially a limited intervention?
January 18, 2015

Winter Relief

This winter, BRAC reached out to distribute over 100,000 blankets and warm clothes all over Bangladesh. Lives are lost every year in the country due to the cold spell that affects the poor and homeless who cannot afford warm clothing and appropriate housing. The Give Warmth This Winter campaign was launched in December 2014 with the aim to effectively ensure that warmth reaches those who are in need.
October 26, 2014

Letting girls grow up to be who they want to be

According to UNICEF, Bangladesh ranks second in terms of under 18 marriages in the world. Child marriage has become a crisis due to its pervasiveness. The problem seems to be more acute in rural areas (71 per cent) compared to urban areas (51 per cent). Illiterate women are more vulnerable than those who completed a secondary or higher secondary education. Those employed are also less likely to fall victim than woman without a job. Thus child marriage can impact the achievement of almost every single millennium development goal. It even has a direct impact on GDP, as child marriage forces girls to drop out of school and lose any opportunity to contribute to the national economy.
June 20, 2014

Introducing… The Karate Girls of Bangladesh

Meet Sonya –an 18 year-old girl living in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Sonya lives a typical Bengali lifestyle; she enjoys the park with her friends and helps her parents with chores. But Sonya isn't typical. At an age when girls are often expected to get married, she is breaking gender stereotypes, instilling confidence, and empowering a new generation of girls… all through her love for karate. Sonya is among a group of girls who are taking part in BRAC’s Adolescent Development Program where they are mentored in life skills, in this case, through the art of karate.
April 14, 2014

“She wields her wrench like a microphone …”

When people talk about BRAC, often the first person they'll mention is the founder, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, who sold his apartment in London in 1972 and used the money for relief in post-war Bangladesh. They'll talk about how the organization grew and grew, how it now reaches millions.
March 17, 2014

M&Ms and slow ideas, or what a simple check can do

I was psyched to read about David Lee Roth and his famous brown M&Ms in Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto over the weekend. It's a favorite story of mine, as I've often considered it a metaphor for Great and Meaningful Things.
February 26, 2014

Barefoot lawyers bring legal empowerment to the poor

Without basic legal empowerment, the poor live an uncertain existence, in fear of deprivation, displacement and dispossession
December 26, 2013

Here’s what happens when microfinance grows up

Modern microcredit, born in Bangladesh, was hailed as an innovative poverty fix when it appeared on the global radar. The United Nations dubbed 2005 “the year of microcredit,” and the following year, Mohammed Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize. Soon, however, the pendulum of hype swung the opposite direction, as scholars began to question the efficacy of microfinance.