BRAC Pakistan’s entrepreneur Abida Perveen and her loan officer Nasreen Akhtar from Multan received the award for ‘Most Innovative MFI’ during the ninth Citi-PPAF Micro-entrepreneurship Awards 2014 held at Serena Hotel, Islamabad on 31 March 2015. Abida Perveen and Nasreen Akhtar also received USD 1,165 (PKR 120,000) as cash prize along with the award.
Jointly organised by Citi Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Citibank, and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), the awards aim to recognise best practices, entrepreneurial skills, and leadership qualities of individual micro-entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Italian Ambassador in Pakistan, Mr Adriano Chiodi Cianfarani and federal minister for planning and development, Mr Ahsan Iqbal were the chief guests of the ceremony and they presented the awards to the winners for their extraordinary contributions to economic sustainability of their families as well as their communities.
The Pakistan Micro-finance Network (PMN) short listed potential award winners from 280 applicants from different organisations across Pakistan. The short listed applicants underwent a rigorous assessment process that studied both their business models and the impact they had on their communities. The panel of judges consisted of experts from IlM Ideas, World Bank Group, Bahria University, ILO, UNDP, Engro Foundation and NH Consultancy (Pvt) Ltd.
A knowledge dissemination workshop on ‘WASH & CLEAN in the labour ward: A situation analysis in India and Bangladesh”was held on 25 March 2015 at BRAC Centre Auditorium. The Bangladesh part of this study is a collaboration between BRAC and the University of Aberdeen, UK with funding support from the Soapbox Collaborative, UK. In the workshop, findings of the study on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention practices in maternity unit of hospital was shared withstakeholders working in the field of maternal health.
Dr. Md Shah Nawaz, Additional Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh was present as the chief guest.Professor DrMdShamiul Islam, the Line Director of Hospital Services Management, Directorate General of Health Service was the special guest. Among the key speakers were Dr. Wendy J Graham, Professor of Obstetric Epidemiology, University of Aberdeen, UK, MS Suzanne Cross, Senior Programme Officer, The Soapbox Collaborative, UK andDrTanveenIshaque, Senior Research Associate, Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC. The session was chaired by Dr. Ahmed MushtaqueRaza Chowdhury, Vice Chairperson, BRAC. Academicians, researchers, policy makers, clinicians, professionals, microbiologists and representatives from national and international organisations were present in the session.
Bangladesh findings were shared by DrTanveenIshaque and MrsAtiya Rahman.One of the key findings of the study is that visual cleanliness does not always indicate microbiological safety. The cleaner environment might have fewer germs, but not necessary they are completely safe. Inadequacies in training on infection, prevention and control for healthcare providers and an absence of training for cleaners were identified. The majority of healthcare providers expressed their need to get formal infection prevention training for their cleaners and other health care providers. Lack of organizational policies and protocols for infection prevention and control, absence of formal infection control committee and relevant checklists for monitoring and quality control contributed to suboptimal standards of infection, prevention and control practices in the participating facilities. Staff motivation specifically cleaners of the health facilities were shaped by high level of dissatisfaction due to heavy workload and poor salary which ultimately affecting the overall infection prevention practices of the facilities. Most women who received care from the participating facilities did not have any idea about the fatal consequences or risks that they or their baby might face as a result of exposure to an unsafe hospital environment.
In his speech, Dr. Md Shah Nawaz talked about some of the important characteristics of Bangladesh health sector. Per capita health expenditure is only $27 dollar/ year. The rate of institutional delivery is 29%. He talked about the wide variation in the service provision between urban and rural setting. Even within the urban setting, wide variation exists. For example, cost of cesareans delivery varies widelyranging from BDT 4000 taka to overBDT 100,000. He mentioned that our health sector has good data storage and management information system. There is more than 180,000 service centres available all over the country. He gratefully recognisedthe valuable contribution of some of the distinguished guest present in the session and also requested others to come forward.
In his speech, DrMdShamiul Islam mentioned about the remarkable growth in health sector. However, there is lots of scope of improvement in service quality. There is clear relationship between infection and maternal mortality. So infection prevention and control is very important. Visual cleanliness is not sufficient. He mentioned that there is lots of rules, regulation and protocols ara available, but they are not properly implemented. He sought everyone’s support in the health sector. He thanked the team of this valuable and timely research and also welcomed more researchers to conduct evidence based researches.
In the concluding remark Dr. Ahmed MushtaqueRaza Chowdhury said that we all have a role to play in ensuring WASH and Clean practice. It is not just about having a protocol, rather there needs to be a detailed and clear strategy. Finally he thanked the researcher team, government officials and audience to be part of this knowledge dissemination strategy.
The dissemination session was followed by a consultative policy discussion session. National & international experts on health sectorwere given some of the priority areas of maternal health. They identified key issues under each area, suggested next step, proposed timeline and identify priority stakeholders for the programme implementation
24 March 2015, Dhaka. Three national media houses and 23 journalists from national and local newspapers have won the BRAC Media Award 2015 for their special reports on tuberculosis issues. The winners will receive the award from the honourable minister of the ministry of health and family welfare at a grand ceremony on march 24, World TB Day. This award ceremony is one of the major events organised on the occasion of the day in the country.
A three-member jury gave its judgment after a scrutiny of the reports submitted. Senior journalist Md Farid Hossain, former bureau chief of AP, chaired the jury with Shahnaz Munni, news editor, ATN Bangla, and Dr Asif Muztaba Mahmud as the other members. Dr Mahmud acted as the technical expert for the jury.
The awards were given under three main categories: print, electronic and online media reporting. The print media reports which are most in number, were again divided into eight categories of seven divisions and national level.
The Daily Ittefaq, The Daily Observer and NTV (International Television Channel Ltd), have been awarded the prize this year in recognition of their contribution in raising awareness about the issue.
Here we present the award winning reports.
February 27, 2015.
Support through sales of TOMS Bags will help provide the conditions necessary for a safe and sanitary birth for women in Bangladesh
BRAC announces a partnership with TOMS today that will help provide safe conditions for childbirth for expecting mothers in developing countries, starting in Bangladesh.
Formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC is a global leader in providing cost-effective healthcare and other anti-poverty solutions to empower the world’s poor, while TOMS is known for its OneforOne® consumer philanthropy model. BRAC will receive funding this year for training of community health promoters in Bangladesh from sales of a new line of TOMS Bags.
“We welcome the support from TOMS in our training of healthcare workers in Bangladesh,” says Dr. Kaosar Afsana, director of BRAC’s health, nutrition and population program at BRAC headquarters in Dhaka. “This support will strengthen and sustain safe and sanitary birth for tens of thousands of women.”
Childbirth is still one of the leading causes of death for women worldwide. Most of these deaths can be prevented through the delivery of simple solutions and adequate training for health workers. In Bangladesh, BRAC has made tremendous inroads against maternal mortality by training frontline community health workers. It is running similar programs in Afghanistan, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.
“This is an important initiative by TOMS, which has shown readiness to expand its philanthropy into healthcare solutions that have been proven to work,” says Scott MacMillan, a spokesperson for BRAC USA in New York, which facilitated the partnership. “Consumers should understand that we can eliminate many of the causes and conditions of poverty by focusing on the effective delivery of training, services and basic health commodities.”
“This partnership will start in Bangladesh, but if successful, there is scope to expand it to other countries, given the tremendous need for access to healthcare in places like Sierra Leone, Liberia and South Sudan, where maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world. We welcome the support of corporate partners in bringing those numbers down and creating safer conditions for mothers everywhere.”
The BRAC-TOMS partnership builds on BRAC’s outstanding track record in Bangladesh, a country credited by British medical journal The Lancet with outstanding progress in basic health indicators.
In 1990, the maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh was one of the worst in the world, with 575 deaths per 100,000 births. In the last 20 years, the country has made staggering improvements, with a 40 percent reduction in the rate in the last decade alone. Bangladesh is likely to reach the UN Millennium Development goal of 143 deaths per 100,000.
BRAC started as a small relief effort in 1972 and has grown into the world’s largest nongovernmental organization, measured by number of full-time staff and the estimated number of people it reaches. It is known in the international development community for providing opportunities for the poor on a massive scale. It reaches an estimated 135 million people in 11 countries, operating multiple programs in health, education, microfinance and other areas. BRAC takes a holistic approach to poverty with a breadth of interventions that include healthcare, women’s and girls’ empowerment, microfinance, social justice, and tens of thousands of its own schools. It also runs a full-fledged university, BRAC University, with its own graduate school of public health, in Bangladesh.
BRAC believes that if women and girls have access to the right tools, they can take control of their own lives and end poverty. Its maternal health program advances this philosophy by training self-employed community health promoters and birth attendants, providing both entrepreneurship solutions for women in poorer communities and healthcare for their neighbors.
BRAC’s model for its maternal, child and neonatal health program trains a network of 110,994 self-employed health workers worldwide – community health promoters or “shasthya shebika” in the Bengali language – to deliver health services and to refer patients with complications to nearby facilities.
In 1999, BRAC started manufacturing delivery kits to be sold by these trained health workers. Delivery kits include basic items necessary for a sanitary birth – sterile soap, gauze, a plastic sheet, and a surgical blade to cut the umbilical cord. BRAC health workers sell about 400,000 kits a year and, along with birth attendants, are trained in their proper usage.
For every purchase of one of TOMS new line of bags, BRAC will receive funding to train one health worker in the usage and distribution of these kits.
21 February 2015, Dhaka. Engineer Abul Iqbal Mohammed Monsoor, Director, Construction and Maintenance (Chief Engineer), BRAC passed away on Friday, February 20th, at 9pm at Apollo Hospital, Dhaka. He was 61 years old. Engr. Monsoor was the son of Late Md Azizur Rahman of Rangarchar, Ambari Bazar, Sunamganj. He completed his graduation in Civil Engineering from BUET in 1977. He is a life member and Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh and also a member of Canadian Council of Engineers.
Engr Monsoor leaves behind his wife Dr. Taslima Monsoor, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Dhaka University and a daughter and son.
His qulkhani and milad mahfil will be hosted by BRAC and his family on 27 February 2015(Friday) after Asaar prayer. His friends, colleagues and well wishers are cordially invited to attend his qulkhani.
-the BRAC family
On 16 February, 2015, BRAC held a launching workshop for its collaborative evaluation study with the American Institute for Research (AIR). The Evaluation of the BRAC Nutrition and Early Childhood Programme is being carried out under a grant from the Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Programme (NEEP), a four-year programme agreement between the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the US based donor organisation PATH. Malnutrition and under-nutrition among young children is a pressing health issue for Bangladesh. A lot of this is tied to the issue of early childhood development. Given the scale and scope of BRAC’s nutrition and early childhood development related interventions, the findings of this evaluation can have tremendous implications for the future of similar initiatives in Bangladesh and the rest of the developing world.
The workshop featured presentations on BRAC’s health programme, its nutrition and early childhood development interventions as well as a session on the proposed evaluation. It also brought together key experts and stakeholders from the field of health, nutrition and early childhood development, encouraging open dialogue and an exchange of ideas on the growing issue of child under-nutrition and malnutrition in Bangladesh.
12 February 2015, WASHINGTON, DC – The Microfinance CEO Working Group welcomes two new members to their international collaboration: Lauren Hendricks, Executive Director of CARE’s Access Africa program, and Shameran Abed, Director of BRAC’s microfinance program. Tanzania-based Hendricks and Bangladesh-based Abed join the Working Group’s efforts to support the positive development of the microfinance industry, so the field can reach its full potential of bringing responsible microfinance and related services to those who have been traditionally excluded.
“The Microfinance CEO Working Group has worked hard to foster a diverse, collaborative and honest platform for advancing our industry’s mission to reach the 2.5 billion people around the world without access to the formal financial system. As leaders from BRAC and CARE’s Access Africa program, Shameran and Lauren complement our global perspective and bring innovative approaches to financial inclusion to our group. We’re thrilled to welcome them as new members, and they are already adding value and perspectives,” Mary Ellen Iskenderian, Co-Chair of the Microfinance CEO Working Group and President and CEO of Women’s World Banking.
In early 2011, an informal group of industry leaders met to discuss the state of the microfinance sector as it matures and encounters new challenges. Participants quickly discovered a shared perspective on the future of the microfinance industry – one rooted in high standards, client orientation, transparency and collective action.
That group formalized to create the Microfinance CEO Working Group, which has spent the last four years advocating in support of responsible microfinance and championing promising ideas and solutions for the industry. Today, the Working Group’s networks collectively represent more than 230 microfinance institutions across nearly 75 countries serving more than 57 million clients. The group supports initiatives that are playing a major role in advancing responsible microfinance, including client protection, pricing transparency and the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management. The members of the Microfinance CEO Working Group also provide forums for collaboration and information sharing among like-minded allies, including investors, funders, regulators, researchers and the broader international development community.
Hendricks is the Executive Director of CARE’s Access Africa program. Launched in 2008 to advance financial inclusion across the continent, Access Africa was built on CARE’s nearly 20 years of experience harnessing the ancient practice of savings groups and creating a sustainable system of home-grown microfinance. CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are built entirely on member savings and interest from loans; they receive no direct capital investment from CARE. However, their members do receive a year of intensive training from CARE in group dynamics and governance and in money management. This training enables the groups to become self-supporting, to flourish and even to establish and train other groups. Today, the Access Africa program is reaching 4.2 million people across 26 countries in Africa.
“The Microfinance CEO Working Group is all about collaboration in a shared commitment to financial inclusion. On behalf of CARE, I’m honored to join this diverse group of leaders to support sustainable and holistic solutions for the world’s poor,” said Hendricks.
Abed is the Director of the BRAC microfinance program, which serves more than five million clients in seven countries in Asia and Africa, and has total assets exceeding USD 1 billion. Starting its work in the early 1970s, BRAC was one of the first organizations to use the modern microfinance model of lending small amounts to groups of women.
Today, BRAC’s microfinance activities are offered through a unique “credit-plus” approach, addressing the special needs of various target populations such as rural women, youth and adolescents, landless poor, marginal farmers, migrant workers and small entrepreneurs. BRAC targets and develops customized financial products and services to best meet the varying needs of the poor.
“BRAC shares the Microfinance CEO Working Group’s commitment to promoting the best practices of our industry. This is an opportunity to collaborate with a group that embraces both the latest innovations and the trusted long-standing practices that bring financial tools and other resources to those who need them most,” said Abed.
Hendricks and Abed join the following leaders from founding member organizations of the Microfinance CEO Working Group: Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion; Rupert Scofield, President and CEO of FINCA International; Steve Hollingworth, President of Freedom from Hunger; Co-Chair Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation; David Simms, Global Chief Development Officer and President, Opportunity International, U.S.; Rosario Perez, President and CEO of Pro Mujer; Scott Brown, President and CEO of VisionFund International; and Co-Chair Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking.
This article was orignally posted here: http://microfinanceceoworkinggroup.org/press-release-microfinance-leaders-members-join-working-group/
10 February 2014, Dhaka. Grameenphone, in collaboration with BRAC, is going to provide 2.1 million free internet hours for school children. Inspired by Language Movement Day 21st February this programme will be starting this month.
This was announced today (February 10) in a programme arranged at Ali Hossain Girls High School, situated in West Dhanmondi. Under the initiative of “Internet for All” Grameenphone will provide 2.1 million free Internet hours to 250 schools around the country. Students of these schools will be able to use free internet in the Gonokendras, the multi-purpose community learning centres managed by BRAC at school premises. Grameenphone and BRAC recently signed an agreement under which BRAC will help Grameenphone to implement the programme on field level.
During the programme Sigve Brekke, chairman of Grameenphone Board and head of Telenor Asia discussed about the benefit of using internet with students. He emphasised on the awareness regarding internet and importance of using internet safely especially by the children. Later the students participated in a quiz programme. Asif Saleh, BRAC’s senior director of strategy, communication and capacity was present at the event. He thanked Grameenphone for this initiative and said that these initiatives would open a gateway of knowledge for the students to explore newer opportunities.
Grameenphone’s Head of Corporate Communications, Tahmeed Azizul Huq, Engineer Sajedul Alam, acting Head Master of Ali Hossain Girls School were present on the occasion.
Grameenphone has an ambition to make Internet accessible for all Bangladeshi through its Internet for All initiatives. Objective of this campaign is to create equal opportunity to access educational content, news, information and knowledge for all.
BRAC, the largest development organization in the world, currently has around two and a half thousand Gonokendras functioning in Bangladesh. These multi-purpose learning centers provide an intergenerational meeting space and offer a number of services for adults, children and students. They also preserve local historical items, operate mobile libraries for women and the elderly and run a Children’s Corner.
02 February 2015, Dhaka. In partnership with BRAC, maya.com.bd has launched the first ever one-touch help service app for women in Bangladesh. ‘Maya Apa’ is an android-based mobile application, designed, developed, and implemented by female engineers, doctors, and entrepreneurs. It allows women (or any other user) to post questions anonymously, on health, legal and psychosocial issues. Within 48 hours, experts respond with tailor-made answers.
Maya Apa mobile app is based on the hugely successful web application ‘Maya Apa Ki Bole’ on maya.com.bd’s website, the first anonymous question and answer platform in the country. Users can log in via their email address to post questions, allowing them to retain their anonymity. The platform is curated in both English and Bangla, where experts – a team of doctors, lawyers and psychosocial counsellors –respond in the language preferred by the users.
With the service developed for basic smartphones, BRAC Maya team is aiming to reach women and girls in both urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. At the app launch, director of BRAC’s gender, justice and diversity, Sheepa Hafiza stated, “This app will not only create a greater access to information and services for women all over the country but also a nationwide consensus for a supportive society.”
The app sets a precedence in the booming start-up culture whereby two female engineers developed a one-touch service app for women in Bangladesh. Achia Khaleda Nila and Shubrami Moutushy Mou, the developers of the application, believe that this ‘one of a kind’ app is instrumental in empowering women through technology.
Ivy H Russell, founder of Maya, added "We are motivated to continue innovating with the Maya Apa app. Our mission is to connect women to the knowledge they are looking for through technology, and there is a lot more on the roadmap this year”. The app aims to bridge the digital divide by providing information to women, and empowering women of all walks of life in Bangladesh. The Maya Apa app is launching in both Bangla and English on 3 February2015. It can be found on Google Play Store for immediate download and usage.
The education budget for the FY 2015-2016 stands at 1.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the last FY which was 2.2 per cent, said experts at a national seminar held today. The net worth of the reduced amount stands BDT 6162 crore. The national seminar titled “Quality Education for Next Generation” was jointly organised by BRAC and Institute for Informatics and Development (IID) at BRAC Centre Inn.
In the keynote presentation, Syeed Ahmed from IID highlighted although the total allocation for the country’s education sector slightly increased in size, but in terms of its share of the GDP, it declined significantly. The allocation has been the lowest since FY 2006-2007.
State minister for Education Mr Nurul Islam Nahid, MP said, “The national education policy has been set in alignment with the national goal of turning Bangladesh into a middle income country by 2021”. He stressed on the fact that Bangladesh is on the right track although the growth might seem slow. “We have worked two years to develop the education curriculum. 10 lacs teachers have been trained to improve the quality of education” he said. Highlighting the gender parity of teachers in the government schools he mentioned, “The ratio of female and male teachers in our primary schools is 51:49 and 53:47 in secondary schools.”
The consultation also highlighted that apart from GDP, the government has proposed 10.7 per cent for education sector for the next fiscal year against 11.7 per cent in the previous budget. This decrease in budget will seriously affect the quality of education stressed experts present at the seminar. More focus on the infrastructure of schools, quality of education in terms of relevance and age appropriateness, putting more resource in school management are the key factors that were emphasized in the discussion.
Present as a guest of honour, State minister for Ministry of Finance and planning, M A Mannan, MP said, “We need to be literate first before talking about other issues. At this moment we are raising the number of literacy. Focus on quality will come next. But we have brought infrastructural change in primary, secondary schools and madrasas in the last 6 years.” Appreciating the effort put up by BRAC and IID he said, “We will consider adjusting the inflation rate in the budget.”
Director General of directorate of primary and mass education Md Alamgir said, “We have piloted a project in 5 districts to avoid leaking questionnaire. For the first time we are using digital system to develop questionnaire”
Amonsgt the notable guests were senior programme manager of Australian High Commission Meher Nigar Bhuiyan, Founder and CEO of JAAGO foundation Korvi Rakshand and representatives from media. BRAC’s director of Education programme Dr Safiqul Islam chaired the seminar which was jointly moderated by BRAC’s senior director Asif Saleh and the CEO of IID Syeed Ahmed.