Bangladesh’ remarkable progress over the last 40 years in reducing poverty and improving lives can offer valuable lessons for achieving inclusive and sustainable development globally. Said Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury, Vice-Chair of BRAC, at an event in the Palace of Westminster hosted by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Bangladesh and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).
Dr Chowdhury highlighted the vital contribution that the partnership between Bangladesh and the UK has made to Bangladesh graduating to lower middle-income status, reducing poverty, improving health services and education provision and modernising agriculture. Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of human development progress.
Dr Chowdhury said, “Collaboration between Bangladesh and the UK has helped to increase our understanding of how to break the cycle of extreme poverty. This learning around what works could make a significant contribution to the reduction of poverty in all of its forms globally.”
Other Bangladeshi organisations attending the UK meeting to share their knowledge of development progress and lessons for the wider region include: The Bangladesh Institute for Governance and Development, BRAC University, the James P Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University, the global health research institute icddr,b and Bangladesh’s Institute for Development Studies.
Introducing microinsurance for our microfinance clients
We have partnered with Guardian Life Insurance Limited to offer our first microinsurance product - credit shield insurance to our 5 million microfinance clients. The product is targeted towards the lower-income population of Bangladesh to protect them and their livelihoods in the event of death of a household member or the earner.
Our microfinance clients have been using credit and savings products to access opportunities, plan for the future, and cope with shocks. However, some events are hard to predict, and even harder to cope with.
Every year we experience more than 22,000 deaths of microfinance clients or earning members in their families.
For households that face this adversity, credit shield insurance fits in as an important safety net to provide an alternative to emergency strategies for protecting household finances and promote resilience.
When microinsurance was piloted a year ago, we learnt that insurance penetration is low due to negative preconceived perception towards it and lack of awareness. In Bangladesh, traditional insurance companies mainly focus on the upper and middle-income population leaving a large portion of the total population unserved. To fill that gap and best meet the needs of our clients and their families, credit shield insurance has been designed to be accessible, affordable, and easy to use.
Any of our microfinance clients can avail credit shield insurance when applying for their loan by making a minimal one-time premium payment set at 0.3 per cent of the loan amount for individual coverage or 0.7 per cent to cover dual members of a household. This insurance product comes with a cash benefit from BDT 10,000 (USD128) to BDT 20,000 (USD256) to cover the costs of funeral and other arrangements. Credit shield insurance also covers the remaining loan outstanding in full and allows savings to remain intact for the family to meet their emergencies.
To ensure hassle free, fast settlement of claims, only two documents of proof is required from the client end – the death certificate issued by doctor/local authority and a copy of National ID. Moreover, our dedicated team and customer service assistants are beside our clients to deal with queries and concerns every step of the way.
Commenting on the launch of credit shield insurance, Shameran Abed, director of BRAC’s microfinance and ultra poor programmes said, “Poor households are particularly vulnerable to sudden shocks, and nothing is more debilitating than losing an earning member of the family. With the launch of this product, we are taking one more step towards helping our borrowers become more resilient so that they can withstand such shocks.”
The service legal agreement (SLA) signing ceremony of BRAC and Guardian Life Insurance Limited was held at BRAC Centre on 12 January 2017. BRAC’s founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed; executive director, Dr Mohammad Musa; senior director, Asif Saleh; director of microfinance and ultra poor programmes, Shameran Abed; chief executive officer of Guardian Life Insurance Limited, M M Monirul Alam, and managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals Limited were present at the ceremony.
About Guardian Life Insurance Limited
Guardian Life Insurance Limited (GLIL) started its business activities in 2014. It is the fastest growing life insurance company in Bangladesh. GLIL aims to provide the best insurance products and services to the people of Bangladesh. To know more about Guardian Life Insurance Limited, please visit http://www.guardianlife.com.bd/
BRAC, through their Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescent (ELA) project, has rolled out a plan to support 50 outstanding girls with sewing machines across four regions in Tanzania, namely Dar es salaam, Mbeya, Iringa and Dodoma.
The support was extended to girls who were trained by BRAC under the ELA initiative and demonstrated commitment to use their skills to empower more girls around their community.
The ceremony was attended by chief guest Ms. Anna Marika, a youth officer from Temeke Municipality where BRAC has established 10 girls clubs. Ms. Marika commended BRAC’s efforts to empower adolescent girls, and thanked the BRAC for supporting girls living in difficult environments. She encouraged the community to join hands in supporting girls’ initiatives since their economic liberation will be felt throughout the community, and how an empowered girl child is the best single investment any society should consider.
BRAC started the ELA project in 2013 to create safe space for girls in Tanzania where they can meet their peers and share experiences, challenges and discuss new ways to tackle them. BRAC is currently running 180 girls club in four regions namely Mbeya, Iringa, Dodoma and Dar es salaam.
The clubs provide adolescent girls the opportunity to learn new life skills which empower and support them to launch and implement their own business ideas. The girls are also given livelihoods skills in tailoring, hairdressing, and agriculture so they can choose a sector they are interested in. The ELA programme focuses on improving the quality of life of adolescents, especially vulnerable girls through two objectives of social education and financial empowerment.
The programme is designed to socially and financially empower vulnerable teenage girls aged between 11 to 19 years.
BRAC is going to scale up its investment in mobile app Maya Apa to ensure quality information and counselling service delivery for a greater number of people. Besides, BRAC’s urban development programme will implement a pilot project where Maya Apa app will be used to give services to 50,000 women garment factory workers.
This new BRAC-Maya initiative was announced today on Wednesday (February 15) with a signing ceremony organised at a hotel in the Dhaka city.
Maya Apa is a virtual platform that anyone anonymously can access any time for counselling and answers to queries on daily life issues including health, psychosocial and legal matters. Once the question is asked it is redirected to the profile of relevant experts and the answer appears within three hours maximum. Statistics show that since the app's launch in February 2015 around 150 thousand queries were received and answered. Currently, over 10,000 users access it daily.
Tarana Halim, state minister for posts and telecommunications, was present at the ceremony as the chief guest. Asif Saleh, senior director, strategy, communications and empowerment, BRAC, moderated the event while Dr Muhammad Musa, executive director, BRAC, briefed on the mission and objective of the partnership. Ivy H Russell, founder of Maya, spoke on the activities of Maya Apa. Dr Muhammad Musa and Ivy H Russell signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.
‘Today's event is a stark example of how ICT in Development is the next frontier of sustainability. BRAC and Maya Apa partnership will help both organisations reach out to the millions in Bangladesh to provide wellbeing and healthcare at their fingertips’, said chief guest Tarana Halim. ‘I am very happy to be a part of this ceremony, especially seeing a women-led technology start-up like Maya Apa, pushing barriers to providing affordable healthcare and wellbeing, makes me proud. I would like to wish both BRAC and Maya Apa all the best for the future and hope that the telecom service providers come forward to help with services like Maya Apa’, she further said, adding, BTRC would always stand by such social initiatives.
The organisers said, they aim at connecting the people of Bangladesh to the current digital revolution of the world. Anyone with just a mobile number can access Maya Apa. They can email their queries also. As a result, the users can easily keep themselves anonymous. Till now 60 per cent of the users are women, while the rest 40 are men. The service is available through any Android-based smart phone, web or SMS. The initiative will enable BRAC-Maya group to reach information and counselling services to people both in the rural and urban areas. The service can be accessed through download of this link https://goo.gl/LTW2OA
Having briefed the context of this partnership agreement, BRAC executive director Dr Muhammad Musa said, 'Our objective is to provide better quality services to more people. By integrating technology into our programmes we want to expedite the delivery of BRAC’s services to the marginalised people.'
Maya founder Ivy H Russel said, 'The Maya Apa team and I could not be more thrilled to receive this kind of commitment from BRAC. Aside from the investment itself, BRAC brings unparalleled expertise and reach in taking services to “last mile” users. Our team will now have the resources in place to drive greater awareness for Maya Apa as well as invest more heavily in improving the service by developing our capabilities in machine learning, natural language processing, and mobile user experience.'
Relevantly, a service titled 'Maya Apa Plus' has already been launched under a partnership with mobile operator Robi. Users will have their queries answered in ten minutes through this service.
The first ever Indo-Bangla automotive show was held in Dhaka at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) from 2 - 4 February 2017 where BRAC was the only NGO to be invited as an exhibitor. BRAC's road safety programme and advocacy for social change jointly showcased their road safety interventions such as community road safety programme, BRAC Driving School and the Road Safety Dhaka mobile app. This was a large convention of big names from the automobile industry such as Honda, Yamaha, Maruti, TATA, TVS and Hero to name a few.
Mr Obaidul Quader, Minister of Road Transport and Bridges and Member of Parliament, Government of Bangladesh (right) during a quiz test with Mr Najmul Hussain, director of administration and road safety programme, BRAC (left).
The driving simulator was a hot attraction at the BRAC pavilion for many visitors.
A representative from Honda with staff members of BRAC's road safety programme and advocacy for social change.
In celebration of the World Wetlands day, the initiative aims to capture the beauty and livelihoods of the people living in haor and wetland areas of Bangladesh
A three-day-long photo exhibition ‘Jol oJoner Golpo’ on the lifestyle and livelihoods of the haor and wetlands in Bangladesh starts from today, 2 February, at the Shilpakala Academy to mark the World Wetlands Day 2017. This year’s theme is wetlands for disaster risk reduction.
Honourable state minister of Water Resources Mr Muhammad Nazrul Islam, Bir Protik, MP and BRAC founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG inaugurated the exhibition.
A collaborative initiative of Bangladesh Haor and Wetlands Development under the ministry of Water Resources and BRAC, this exhibition aims to highlight the unique ecological features of haor and wetlands, and the lifestyle and struggles of the people living in this region.
Praising the initiative the state minister Mr Mr Muhammad Nazrul Islam, Bir Protik, MP said, “BRAC’s role in improving lives and livelihoods of the people of haor and wetlands is praiseworthy. But there are scopes for more collaborative work and private-government partnerships in this sector will really make a difference.”
The exhibition is open for all from 2-4 February at Gallery-1 of the Shilpakala Academy. During the inauguration, Sir Fazle said, “Ecology, bio-diversity and the lives of the people living in this region depend on the usage and conservation of the wetlands.
Though Bangladesh succeeded in achieving most of the MDGs, the haor and wetlands have not been able to develop accordingly. BRAC is working in this area along with the government, but it’s still not meeting the demands. Coordination amongst the NGO sector and the government is necessary to improve people’s lives in this region.”
Registration for BRACATHON, the marathon coding competition for social good ends on this Thursday, 2 February 2017.
BRAC's first ever hackathon is a platform for coders to code for social good. Participants will compete to provide useful mobile applications to solve a particular problem. Winners will be decided based on impact, innovation, functionality and quality of the proposal. Interested participants can register by visiting the BRACATHON website bracathon.brac.net.
The 36-hour long Hackathon under the slogan 'Code for Bangladesh' will take place from 17-18 February at BRAC University. The registration started from
The competition will provide funding up to USD 5,000 along with 6-month long implementation and development support for the winners.
Today on 18 January 2017, BRAC distributed housing materials to the house owners at Saat Tola slum in Mohakhali. 200 bundle of corrugated sheets were distributed among 35 house owners. Wooden posts and bamboo were distributed earlier. These owners own 115 houses all of which were destroyed in a fire at Saat Tola slum on 12 December 2016.
BRAC facilitated agreements between house owners and tenants under which fire-affected tenants will be able to stay at the houses for certain period of time.
The distribution event was led by Hasina Mushrofa, Programme Head, BRAC Urban Development Programme and Md Nasir, Ward 20 Councilor of Dhaka North City Corporation.
Formal inauguration of the school building through cutting the ribbon by the respective guests
On 28 November 2016, BRAC Afghanistan Education Programme inaugurated a school building in the Paghman district of Kabul Province. It was constructed under community-based girls’ education project in Afghanistan, and funded by Global Affairs Canada.
The new school houses five classrooms for 150 students. It was jointly inaugurated by Dr M Ibrahim Shinwari, deputy minister of General Education from Ministry of Education and by His Excellency Ken Neufeld, Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan.
Classrooms visit by the Chief Guests
The construction of the school is a valuable addition to an area that has scarce educational opportunities.
Distinguished guests who attended the inauguration include Hamid Akram, the provincial governor, Dr M Ibrahim Shinwari, the deputy minister, His Excellency Ken Neufeld, Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan and Mohammed Shanti, the first secretary of the Canadian embassy in Afghanistan.
The Canadian Ambassador appreciated BRAC’s efforts in the successful implementation of the girls’ education project. He urged the Ministry of Education and local communities to build strong collaborations to promote education for children in Afghanistan.
NGO Advisor announced its new list of best NGOs in the world for 2017, and BRAC retained the top spot.
BRAC was ranked the number one NGO in the world for the second consecutive year today by the Geneva-based NGO Advisor, an independent media organisation committed to highlighting innovation, impact and governance in the nonprofit sector. BRAC retained the top spot as part of the 2017 Top 500 NGOs World rankings.
“It is an honour to see that BRAC has retained the number one position once again,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC’s founder and chairperson. “Every day, more than 100,000 of our staff across the world continue to empower people living in poverty. We are committed, now more than ever, to keep looking for answers to poverty and deprivation – to find out what works and apply the lessons.”
Each year, NGO Advisor researches, evaluates and ranks NGOs from around the world, highlighting the best in their annual Top 500 NGOs World list. NGO Advisor announced the new rankings on its website Monday, January 9. This is the third best-in-class ranking for BRAC in four years.
“Again in 2017, BRAC is the leading organisation in the Top 500 NGOs World rankings, meaning number one in terms of innovation, impact and governance. The agile giant keeps challenging itself to serve more and more communities around the world,” said NGO Advisor Editor-in-Chief Jean-Christophe Nothias in a statement.
In an exclusive interview, Sir Fazle says, “The idea behind BRAC is to change systems of inequity.”
Of more than 500 organisations worldwide, NGO Advisor placed BRAC first in its international category, based on its impact, innovation and sustainability. BRAC was praised for its holistic approach to fighting poverty, treating it as a system of interrelated barriers that must be addressed concurrently. The ranking also highlighted the organisation’s systems-based structure, ensuring sustainability through a variety of revenue streams.
“Pragmatic, adaptive, BRAC can now play any game, whether using for-profit or nonprofit approaches, to face and challenge systems of inequity,” said NGO Advisor in its review of BRAC. “BRAC ticks every box this year, with extra scoring for the clarity of its five-year strategic vision and its willingness to expand its international outreach…Today, BRAC is more than a reference; it is leading the nonprofit world toward its next degree of efficiency and leverage.”
BRAC was founded in Bangladesh in 1972, and today is a global leader in developing cost-effective, evidence-based poverty innovations in extremely poor, conflict-prone and post-disaster settings. These include programs in education, healthcare, microfinance, girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, socially-responsible businesses, a bank, a university, and the world’s largest mobile money platform. In 2016, BRAC employed more than 100,000 people in 11 countries, with a total global expenditure of about $900 million.
BRAC is also unique among the world’s major nonprofits in that its overall budget is majority self-financed. In Bangladesh, where BRAC was founded and the site of its global headquarters, BRAC financed 76% of its $682 million average annual national budget from 2011 to 2015 from its own socially-responsible businesses. However, much of BRAC’s most important work – including its schools, healthcare, ultra-poor graduation programme, climate change resilience, and most of its programmes outside Bangladesh – remains heavily reliant on outside donors.
NGO Advisor combines academic rigour with journalistic integrity and autonomy, evaluating each organisation based upon its objective merits. Co-founded by Jean-Christophe Nothias, a journalist formerly with The Global Journal, the rankings methodology was first developed in 2009.
Nothias has since enlisted experts at The University of Geneva and partners from the nonprofit sector to improve the evaluation metrics used to determine the rankings. Today, NGO Advisor presents its findings to an international audience of donors, volunteers, journalists, researchers, diplomats and nonprofit leaders to showcase best practices and mirror the evolving values of the global community.
The new rankings include several important organisations. The Skoll Foundation, a social entrepreneurship foundation based in Palo Alto, California, claimed the third spot, and Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, the number two. The Danish Refugee Council and Ashoka rounded out the rankings in the fourth and fifth spot, respectively.