The world's largest antipoverty organization advocates a market-oriented approach to job creation and poverty alleviation, putting poor borrowers on a path to prosperity by giving them a “business in box.”
I am a first year MBA student at the Johnson School at Cornell University. This past year I was studying Sustainable Global Enterprise and social entrepreneurship and am so thrilled to be doing my internship with BRAC-Aarong this summer. Most first-year MBA students take internship positions with large banks, consumer package goods companies or other corporations. And while many of my classmates came to b-school to purse these more traditional paths, I envisioned a career where I would be able to merge my creative background with my newly honed business skills and work for a company that considered social and environmental needs in addition to the bottom line. But honestly, when I first started looking for an internship, I thought that this was a pipe dream.
On May 23, 2011 Susan Davis, President & CEO of BRAC USA participated in a panel titled "Social Entrepreneurship and Microfinance." The panel discussion revealed a number of valuable lessons. Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and CEO of the Pipeline Fund, moderated the panel. Simonida Cvejic contributed interesting ideas based on her experience in founding the Bay Area Medical Academy, and Jessica Jackley, co-founder of ProFounder, provided interesting insights. Susan Davis discussed the widespread impact of her book Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs To Know, written with David Bornstein to highlight answers to common questions within the field of social entrepreneurship. Susan explains that, "part of the message of the book is that we are writing the chapters together. That is the spirit of everyone can find his or her own power to be a change-maker and contribute to solving the things we find troublesome."
The following article, written by Jenna Nicholas, was originally published on April 6, 2011 on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) Blog. One of the most exciting announcements at the Skoll World Forum was revealed during the opening plenary: BRAC and MasterCard Foundation announced a $45 million partnership, created to scale BRAC’s innovative microfinance multiplied model in Uganda (more about the partnership here).
On 25th March, Aarong - A BRAC social enterprise, now in its 33rd year of operation, opened the doors to it's newest Flagship store. Aarong is Bangladesh's leading fashion and lifestyle brand. At 36,000 sq. ft. the new outlet, located in Uttara is currently the country’s largest retail store. True to the Aarong tradition of continuously raising the bar, this store utilises state of the art layout and décor to create an unparalleled shopping experience. While shopping at Aarong, one can appreciate the fact that Aarong is creating employment for rural women who have very few work opportunities. Aarong's value chain incorporates rural Bangladeshi artisans, mostly women, who have kept the age old tradition of Bangladesh's arts and crafts alive.
Last week at a BRAC rural manufacturing facility located in Manikganj, Bangladesh, which is two hours north of Dhaka, artisans were introduced to the Japanese 5S methodology. The artisans are part of the Ayesha Abed Foundation (AAF), Aarong’s manufacturing arm. Aarong is a BRAC social enterprise that has enabled livelihood opportunities for 65,000 artisans across rural Bangladesh.
Below is an article published on the Nourishing the Planet blog by Matt Styslinger, who worked as Student Researcher at BRAC in 2008/ 2009, conducting field research on BRAC’s Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) Program.
As a communications consultant for VisionSpring, one of BRAC’s valued partners, I was amazed by the depth and scope of BRAC’s work in Bangladesh and globally. VisionSpring is a social enterprise dedicated to reducing poverty and generating opportunity in the developing world through the sale of affordable eyeglasses. Together, BRAC and VisionSpring have trained tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across Bangladesh to sell VisionSpring eyeglasses to those who need them to work, earn a living, and support their families.
Last week, BRAC USA received a letter and a donation from James, age 4, for children in Haiti. James dictated this letter to his mother, and in the letter he explains to the children of Haiti, "There is some money coming. I am sending this because I know you don't have money to buy food and things to drink."
A throng of village children, led by a boy in a blue shirt, follow me as I walk over the narrow ledge separating two rice paddy fields, and make my way over to a small production sub-center located in a remote rural area in Bangladesh.Being Indian by birth, I have similar coloration and features as a Bangladeshi but the children seem to know that I am not from their part of the world. I think that my slightly off-Bangladeshi garb, my water bottle and camera give me away.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the BRAC Limb & Brace Centre, one of BRAC's social enterprises. The Limb & Brace Centre makes and fits artificial limbs and braces and also provides physical therapy and rehabilitation. Services are provided on a tiered payment plan - so patients pay only what they can afford for the treatment they need, and the Centre still makes a profit, which is invested back into BRAC's programs.