Yesterday at the 2011 CGI Annual Meeting, Sir Fazle Abed, BRAC’s founder and chairperson, joined the conversation on the Girls and Women track as a member of a panel discussion on scaling up, titled “What to Scale; Where to Scale”. Sir Fazle was joined on the panel by Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Jennifer Leaning, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, and Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden. Remarks were made before the panel by Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst at the Population Council.
One of the major points of discussion regarded the qualitative differences between scaling efforts and strategies, scaling up versus out. Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta posed the question as to whether a distinction should be placed on the strategy of bringing micro level programs and methods to the macro level, versus the strategy of replicating those micro methods across a broader and range of groups. Dr. Gupta highlighted BRAC’s innovation in both models, mentioning that, “BRAC’s work in Bangladesh…is actually modeled and built around scalability. [It] reaches millions of girls and women.”
Sir Fazle was asked to discuss how BRAC achieved so much success in building this model. He emphasized the need to streamline programs by cutting out unnecessary or inefficient methods before attempting to replicate or expand these programs, clarifying that, “once we are effective and efficient, then we try to scale up.” Throughout the discussion this point was reiterated as the integral rule to the success and organic growth of BRAC’s programs and those of other broad-based NGOs.
Sir Fazle also addressed the challenges that are faced in scaling up efforts. He went on to discuss how the infrastructural demands prove to be one of the biggest challenges, stating that, “you need to have resources organized…training capacity, audit and accounting” and demonstrated the weight of the statement by sharing that BRAC alone has 178 internal auditors.
The session closed with key points shared by each member of the panel. When asked to summarize his statements, Sir Fazle succinctly stated that, “there can be no better investment than on girls…we need to develop a whole new movement which [will] get us to achieve gender equality which is the unfinished agenda of this century.”