Deep inside the chaotic makeshift settlements of Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, is a spacious, shaded, colourful place. A bamboo structure with handmade decorations hanging from the walls. Curious onlookers gather outside the thatched windows, attracted by the rhythm.
By the time we reached Rangoon Tea House – a fabled place mentioned in many travel literature- it was raining hard. The country representative of BRAC in Myanmar was taking me out to a legendary destination. We met his friends at a table with a fan whirring above with the blades shaped like palm leaves. Ancient black and white movies were projected on the wall with no sound; the silent movies contrasted with the bantering voices in the large room as people chatted and laughed.
What comes to your mind when you think about innovation? Most of us relate innovation to places like Silicon Valley. However, there are incredible social innovations happening in the global South; starting from Sudanese villages to Afghan classrooms and in many other not-so-known places, where you least expect anything related to innovation.
BRAC understands the significance of cultural context as well as the dangers of imposing any foreign solutions disregarding local reality. Community organisation and mobilisation and understanding the local context has been central to BRAC’s development work. This hasn’t been an exception for BRAC's latest international undertaking in Myanmar. We now have two entities there, namely BRAC Myanmar and BRAC Myanmar Microfinance Company Limited, a for profit organisation. With three branch offices and over 1,000 microfinance borrowers, we are proud to celebrate one year of operating in Myanmar this October.