Social Innovation Lab

The Social Innovation Lab was launched in 2011 to support BRAC in realizing its strategy through increased awareness of relevant breakthroughs occurring around the world and creation of a more innovation-friendly environment for all staff.

What we do:

  1. Build a space for staff learning, capacity and innovation
  2. Incubate new products and practices
  3. Scan for external innovations to introduce and internal innovations to scale up
  4. Lead a regional network around “Doing while learning” that is focused on scaling up social innovations within South Asia
  5. Push forward important issues that don’t fall neatly into any program’s scope of responsibility

Examples of our work:

Build a space – We make space for new interactions by hosting monthly “innovation addas” (chats) on BRAC’s roof. The idea behind the adda is that there is no agenda, and staff can come and discuss anything they want, as well as mingle and get to know each other better.  This often leads to unexpected partnerships and opportunities to learn. 

Incubate new products and practices – We test new products and processes on a micro scale to help BRAC decide whether to do a pilot. We ran an SMS-based poll to gather community priorities on post-2015 development goals and are testing open-source mapping tools in Dhaka’s slums.

Scan internal and external innovations – Each member of the Social Innovation Lab regularly visits BRAC programs to learn what they have been working on recently, share information about the Social Innovation Lab’s work, and identify opportunities for collaboration. We serve as a knowledge hub for internal staff. We aggregate information about emerging research, technologies, and processes and pass along relevant resources to other staff. Each month we hold an Innovation Forum on a cross-cutting topic to give staff a chance to learn about something new.Beginning last year, we host annual Frugal Innovation Forums. This is a large scale, internationally attended event that exposes BRAC to global innovations.

Lead “Doing while learning” – With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Innovation Lab has organized a learning network of South Asian organizations that are in the process of scaling social innovations. We are documenting the process in real time, and we will create tools for practitioners to use in future efforts to scale up.

Push forward important issues that don’t fall neatly into any programme’s scope of responsibility – There are some issues, such as data and technology and people with disabilities that impact all of BRAC programs’ work but they aren’t the responsibility of one program. The Social Innovation Lab has conducted surveys, presented key findings and recommendations to senior leadership, and encouraged a dialog around these important topics.

Join us for the Frugal Innovation Forum 2014: Scaling digitally!

Publications and videos


Have a great idea to share?
Contact us at
innovation (at) brac.net .