BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, and Meta, formerly known as the Facebook company, have been collaborating to empower women through economic and digital awareness in Bangladesh.
The two organisations organised a discussion and project learning session on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 at the BRAC Centre. The event titled “Empowering women and youth in digital spaces” was in line with this year’s IWD theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. At the programme, organisers shared the experiences and learning of the pilot project implemented under the collaboration of the two organisations to promote online safety.
Under this project, over half a million BRAC programme participants have learned about online safety, privacy tools, and how to tackle misinformation. Around 75 per cent of these participants were women. Apart from that, nearly 10 million women and youths were reached through a social media campaign on the safe and effective use of social media.
Keya Khan, additional secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), attended the programme as the chief guest. Rita Houkayem, first secretary, High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh; and Priyanka Bhalla, safety policy manager, South Asia, Meta, were present at the event, among others. Ruzan Sarwar, deputy head, Public Policy, Bangladesh, Meta, participated in the event online.
Nobonita Chowdhury, director, Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, BRAC, gave the opening remarks. “We need to ensure equity in digital access, as the current gender discrimination in accessing and using advanced technology is quite high,” she said.
In the panel discussion Priyanka Bhalla, safety policy manager, South Asia, Meta, said Meta is investing heavily to ensure the safety of digital platforms, and trust in partnerships. Subjects like non-consensual intimate image sharing, two-factor authentication, and strong passwords are prioritised.
Rita Houkayem, first secretary, High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh, stressed that digital rights are human rights. “They are part of our everyday life. We have the right to access the internet and phone.”
In her concluding remarks chief guest Keya Khan, additional secretary, MoWCA, mentioned the partnership between the private and public sectors is very important to bring change to society.
BRAC and Meta began collaboration on this project in May last year.
The Argentine minister visited BRAC Head Office today on Monday (27 February) in the capital as part of his first-ever bilateral visit to Dhaka from 27 February - 1 March 2023. The purpose of his visit was to learn about BRAC’s approach to designing anti-poverty solutions, especially with a focus on women's empowerment and financial inclusion of rural women.
Santiago Andres Cafiero is leading a 26-member high-level delegation in his maiden state-level visit from the South American nation. Luciana Tito, chief of cabinet; Guillermo Merediz, undersecretary, trade and investment; and other key government officials were present along with BRAC leadership.
Asif Saleh, executive director; Arinjoy Dhar, senior director, microfinance; Moutushi Kabir, senior director, people, culture, and communications; and Anna Minj, director, programmes, BRAC International; Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, associate director, skills development programme were present from the BRAC leadership.
The Argentine minister said, "Microfinance is a growing sector in Argentina and there are a number of organisations which are trying to support vulnerable families." He added, "Covid-19 accelerated the growth of the financial inclusion in general as the Argentine government opened 3.5M bank accounts for Argentine citizens for them to access different family welfare programmes."
The Minister enquired about BRAC's intention of providing technical assistance to Argentina for Microfinance.
BRAC executive director said, "Financial inclusion is one of the many tools that BRAC offers to combat poverty from multiple directions. We will be very much interested to pursue opportunities to collaborate with the Argentinian government to share our decades-worth of learning and knowledge on how to bring about financial inclusion in a responsible manner."
The Argentine delegation will leave Dhaka on 1 March.
Children's play-based and experiential learning through floating boats now in Chandpur. Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni inaugurated BRAC’s boat school on Friday, 27 January 2023 at Al-Amin Academy School and College in the city on the riverside.
At her speech as Chief Guest, Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni said "Science and mathematics are very interesting subjects, they can be learned with great pleasure if we teach them with fun. If we don't, even the simplest subjects can become difficult. BRAC, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, has transformed many boats into boat schools, using accessible materials such as pictures, animations, games to teach children of hard-to-reach areas science and mathematics. At the same time, children are learning the value of being humane, empathetic from the young age.
The basic philosophy of our new curriculum emphasises on the same. Children will not be afraid of examinations and will become persons with empathy and values. I believe our government's effort and BRAC's effort complement each other, which will take it further."
Safi Rahman Khan, Director, Education, Skills Development, and Migration, Profulla Chandra Barman, Programme Head, Education Programme along with BRAC head office and field staff were present at the programme.
Thematically designed around values, mathematics and science to celebrate the golden jubilee of BRAC, the three boats started their journey in September 2022 from the northeastern district of Sunamganj and will travel down to the coastal area of Bhola. The boats are making stopovers en route so that a wide range of children, students, teachers and people from the community can visit, and experience the travelling exhibits along with different activities. The duration of the stopovers are for 7-10 days, everyday from 10am-4pm. The boats draw volunteer teachers from the local communities to guide visitors. Special ramps have been designed for children with disabilities.
The educational activities and materials have been particularly designed for primary school children, although older students and visitors will also be able to experience the joy of learning. The visitors will be offered activities and contents on values, while maths and science subjects are designed with puzzles, hands-on experiments, problem solving with fun activities and games, and posters with short bios of great scientists and mathematicians.
The Values Boat was inspired by the philosophy of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, who ensured that along with regular academic subjects, values education and performing fine arts were incorporated in BRAC schools.
All the boats are covered under CCTV surveillance and strictly follow BRAC’s safeguarding policies along with the health, safety and security guidelines.
BRAC introduced the concept of boat schools in the wetlands (haor regions) of north-eastern Bangladesh in 2011. The idea was to bring the classroom to the children who were disconnected from schools due to their homes being surrounded by water for most of the year. The Boat School project was selected as a “100 Global Inspiring Innovations of 2017” by HundrED, a Finnish global education non-profit organisation.
BRAC will organise a three-day long festival, of culture, stories, crafts, music and art, titled ‘Hope Festival’ as the epilogue of its year-long observances which marked 50 years of its founding. The announcement came at a press conference today at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon in the capital.
Venue: Bangladesh Army Stadium
Date: 9 to 11 February 2023
Time: Everyday 11 am to 10 pm
Hope Festival, an open-for-all event, will be held at Bangladesh Army Stadium in the capital on 9, 10 and 11 February, 2023. Everyone is welcome to take part in the festival by simply visiting the website brachopefestival.net and registering for the event.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC Bangladesh and Tamara Hasan Abed, Managing Director of BRAC Enterprises made the announcement during the press conference.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC Bangladesh said, “We believe that social change can’t be brought without partnerships. We have to come forward with new and innovative solutions to deal with these challenges. Building on the potential of the youth, we need to work together to meet the challenges of the future. Through this festival, we aim to get everyone onboard today to solve the social challenges of tomorrow.”
Tamara Hasan Abed, Managing Director of BRAC Enterprises said, “50 years of working with people, believing in their potential and organising the people to help them turn their lives around, this distinct approach to development, which BRAC stands for, is now being lauded the world over for its efficacy. We want to share insights we get from the ground with everyone. We want to inspire the vision of doing development differently and promote innovative approaches to tackle social problems.”
Selim R F Hussain, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of BRAC Bank Ltd Kamal Quadir, Chief Executive Officer of bkash and Mominul Islam, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of IPDC Finance Ltd were also present in the press conference.
BRAC’s founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed used to say – when people have the opportunity to realise their potential, a light of hope gets switched on.
BRAC witnesses that belief turning into reality, every day, right from the frontline, to the last mile. Each of the over 100 million people BRAC works with – teachers, healthcare workers, entrepreneurs, artisans, farmers, producers, partners – from the heart of Bangladesh to the most remote corners of the world – is evidence of hope triumphing over adversity.
Hope Festival aims to inspire Bangladesh’s youth with those very stories of people turning their lives around, on their own, with just a tender rekindling of hope.
The three-day festival will cover three thematic areas with the first day (9 February) dedicated for a tribute to Bangladesh. On the second day (10 February), Hope Festival’s celebrations will be centred around showcasing the potential of people to transform their lives. Festivities of the final day (11 February) will lay out a vision for an equitable and prosperous future for all by sparking a discussion on the pathways to building the world we want.
Hope Festival aims to inspire conversations around five key focus areas, namely education, financial empowerment, gender equality, climate change and mental health.
To build a community of changemakers and find innovative ways of addressing these social issues, Hope Festival will provide a platform for everyone to submit their ideas to tackle these social challenges. People can submit their ideas online while registering for the festival and shortlisted ideators will get to share their ideas, connect and partner with other changemakers.
There will be open workshops with artisans, cartoonists, and urban greenscapers in the festival. People will get to stroll through a world of inspiration, experiencing bioscopes, puppet shows, human libraries, children’s play areas, and exhibits showcasing the power of hope. In a bid to inspire the youth to take ownership of solving social challenges, a group of young changemakers will be felicitated in the festival for their contributions through the ‘Amra Notun Network Young Changemakers Award’. Also, TAAGA Outstanding Young Professionals Award will be given out at the festival to women for their contributions at the workplace.
To ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities, Hope Festival will incorporate inclusive infrastructure in festival grounds. Moreover, visitors will get the opportunity to experience the life of persons with disabilities through interactive exhibits and a sign language performance. Everyday the festivities will be topped off with cultural performances in the evening by some of the biggest names from the cultural sphere of Bangladesh. Fazlur Rahman Babu, Nagar Baul (James), Arnob, Artcell, Lalon band and Nemesis will enthral the audience with their live performances. Bengal Parampara Sangeetalay will stage a special session.
Bkash, BRAC Bank, IPDC Finance and BRAC University are proud partners of the Hope Festival.
"Green Office Day" was celebrated at the BRAC Center of the capital on Tuesday, 27 December with the aim of reducing harmful carbon emissions and raising awareness of environmental protection. As part of this event, keeping in mind the theme of "Carbon Footprint Reduction" a "Climate Adda" was organised.
The organiser of the event says, the Adda was aiming to bring together in one discussion two essential ideas of “Moving towards a Carbon-Neutral World” and “Youth Engagement” as a pivotal stepping stone in taking our overall objective forward at BRAC which is to raise awareness on carbon footprint reduction and in contributing towards BRAC’s aim of becoming carbon-neutral in the near future.
“Climate Adda” mainly involves lively discussions to identify and acknowledge the problems at hand, which is the increasing carbon footprint leading to more global warming; how feasible and challenging are the solutions towards "Carbon-Neutrality"; and apart from this, how the steps can be taken to make a difference – were also discussed in detail.
Chairman of parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP; Mr. Nahim Razzak MP; and Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Member, BRAC Governing Board and Executive Director, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) participated in the climate chat (Climate Adda). Dr. Md. Liakath Ali, Director of Climate Change Programme of BRAC and BRAC International moderated the discussion.
Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury said, “at this year's COP conference, we talked about an important gap. That is, lack of trust, faith. If developed countries do not keep their words, then we will not be able to move forward in any way towards the future. There is even no definition of what we mean by climate finance. Developed countries claim that they gave us $80 billion last year. However, according to the data of neutral organisations, it is not even $20 million.”
Mr. Nahim Razzaq says, “The carbon footprint is something we can all play a part in controlling. Be it in our home or outside home through behavioural changes. Unfortunately, we have yet to influence behavioural change. Especially those who are young need to be included in this process. National consensus and guidelines are needed.” He suggested adding climate change as a chapter in textbooks and curricula.
Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, “We have a lot to do from individual to social to state levels. We can emphasise on the use of public transport over the use of private transport. Then the role of the government should be to improve the public transport system. Bicycle lanes should be introduced to encourage the use of bicycles. Young people should come forward with proper leadership. To be able to be more climate-friendly we need to reduce consumption at personal and state levels. Youths have to raise questions on the safety of food and air.”
To sum up the discussion, Dr. Md. Liakath Ali said “BRAC has been at the forefront of reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint. One of the major initiatives successfully taken up in recent times has been the ban on single-use plastic within the organisation. In addition, we also discontinue the unnecessary use of items made of plastic including communication materials, encouraging paperless communication, and other climate-friendly energy resources, in an endeavour to save our forests — and, our planet.”
In the discussion, guest speakers talk about the global perspective on climate change, the role of the current government and the role of BRAC in this regard. How to engage our young generation, how they can play a more active role in the goal of building a carbon-free world, were discussed.
At the end of the discussion, members of the Popular Theatre, Social Empowerment and Legal Protection (SELP) Programme of BRAC performed Gombhira, a type of song originating in northwestern Bangladesh. BRAC officials, members of BRAC Youth Platform, and alumni of the Aamra Notun Network (ANN) under the BRAC Youth Platform participated in the programme.
BRAC Centre at the capital’s Mohakhali went festive with children cheering and enjoying themselves doing a range of creative activities today on Wednesday, 7 December. They came with their parents and caregivers at a programme organised to celebrate the “BRAC Play Lab” model. BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED), which developed this innovative model, organised the event as a part of celebrating 50th anniversary of BRAC, and 90th anniversary of LEGO Foundation – BRAC’s funding partner.
One of the largest development organisations of the world, BRAC, has established and supported its partners to establish play labs following the “BRAC Play Lab Model” so far in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda. This model has been developed with funding from the Denmark-based child development organisation LEGO Foundation.
The children participated in diverse plays in the event, such as, making clay objects, drawing, learning through pictures, muppets, and word and number games. The event also showcased a research-based display of a range of traditional plays and games of Bengali and ethnic minority communities of Bangladesh.
The event was attended among others, by social media influencers of the country, cartoonists and artists Morshed Mishu, Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy and Masuda Khan and magician Asif Asgar. They spent time with the children and participated in many activities.
Dr Erum Mariam, executive director, BRAC IED, and Kristine Morch, senior programme analyst, LEGO Foundation, were also present at the programme.
The Play Lab Model assists usually 1-5 years old children to learn through diverse play-based activities. The BRAC Play Lab model is particularly community-based, of high quality and cost-effective, so that joyful learning opportunities can be created for children with socioeconomically constrained situations. This model follows a play-based curriculum, for developing social-emotional learning, self-regulation, language, playfulness, creativity, empathy and problem-solving skills in children. The play labs are facilitated by “play leaders” who are local adolescent girls and young women and extensively trained in their facilitators’ role.
Apart from BRAC operated Play Labs, the organisation has provided technical assistance to the Bangladesh government to establish 400 Play Lab centres in 32 upazilas (sub-districts) of nine districts with over 25 thousand children participating. On the other hand, BRAC is running 656 play lab centres in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda involving around 11,500 children.
BRAC has also developed an especially designed “humanitarian play lab” model for children in humanitarian emergency settings in conflict or post-conflict zones. This model is currently being implemented in the camps of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district. BRAC is also operating such context and culture specific play labs in Uganda for children from refugee families taken shelter from neighbouring countries.
The humanitarian play lab model explores the therapeutic dimensions of play to foster resilience and healing process among the survivor children. The humanitarian play labs provide the Rohingya children with a space to play and express their emotions freely which, in turn, helps them feel safe. The design of these play labs reflect Rohingya culture and nurture children's spontaneity.
A global survey has found that 84% children want their parents to spend more time playing with them. Specialists observe that learning through play is a critical component in early childhood development and education. The BRAC Play Labs are built in a cost-effective process with locally available resources and reusable materials reflecting the local culture and language, and socio-economic and geographic contexts. Local community and parents are closely involved in the play lab centre operation.
The LEGO Foundation launched the #BuildaWorldofPlay campaign early this year on the occasion of its 90th founding anniversary. BRAC, as its partner, has joined the campaign, also as a part of its 50th anniversary celebration, in Bangladesh, Uganda and Tanzania focusing on the local context.
‘Time to opt for skill development approach to meet emerging needs of Rohingyas’
Since five years have elapsed, repatriation is still hanging in limbo, and the flow of funds is more fragile than before, it is time to focus on making a strategic shift towards skills development approach for the Rohingyas sheltered in the camps.
Speakers at a policy dialogue titled: “Rohingya Crisis Response in Bangladesh: Do we need a strategic shift from the current approach?” came up with the observations on 30 November 2022. BRAC and the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka jointly organised the dialogue at a local hotel.
Since the beginning of the Rohingya influx in 2017, the responding agencies have prioritised providing lifesaving assistance to the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs).
Several other issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war, humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and the ongoing global economic crisis appeared as bigger global concerns in the meantime. The prolonged nature of the crisis also tightened the flow of humanitarian assistance from donors and international agencies.
Four idea papers developed by the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka were presented at the dialogue that explored the changing needs of the refugees, potential livelihood mediums for them in 2023 and beyond, and roles of local, national and international NGOs in addressing these issues as well as map new sources of finance.
Citing the papers, speakers stressed on paying attention to the needs of the host communities. Addressing their insecurities would strengthen the host-Rohingya relationship; thus paving the way for determining strategic response, they said.
Honourable Planning Minister Mr. M A Mannan MP graced the opening session as the chief guest. He said, “Unfortunately, we have no direct control over the Myanmar issue. The Government of Bangladesh did whatever was possible on its part. However, Myanmar’s position is still unclear. With help from NGOs, development partners, and UN agencies, we have been able to reach a point to meet the basic requirements of the Rohingyas but it is not enough. We need to reach a consensus with our neighbours and the international community. The government will continue its attempts to repatriate the Rohingyas.”
Ms So-Jin Rhee, UNHCR interim Country Representative in Bangladesh, said, “The solution lies in Myanmar. But in the meantime, we have to bridge the gap. We are in a protracted situation. As a UN agency, we have to look at this strategically. Going into sixth year, funding is dwindling. At this juncture, we need to look into how to ensure the minimum like protection, health, WASH, food. We need to invest in resilience, education, skills development so that the Rohingya refugees become productive members of society.”
H.E. Mr Mustafa Osman Turan, Ambassador of Turkey to Bangladesh, said, “Turkey is best placed to understand the situation in Bangladesh as we are hosting the highest numbers of refugees in the world, which is nearly 4 million. We really appreciate the compassion and generosity that was shown by Bangladesh when the Rohingyas had to flee several times and significantly in 2017. We stood by Bangladesh and have been providing support in many different ways including a field hospital, which is treating 1,500 patients every day, free of charge. I would like to congratulate BRAC and Dhaka University for digging deeper into this very complex problem. I am looking forward to the outcomes. Turkey will continue to support Bangladesh until Rohingyas are repatriated.”
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC, said: “We should now look for a mid-term strategy for the refugees as we continuously advocate for their safe and dignified return to their homeland. There is a growing consensus within the sector that the current work needs to shift towards a development-like approach from a very short-term humanitarian crisis-focused approach. The only solution for the Rohingya refugees is their sustainable and voluntary repatriation to Myanmar.”
Ms Kathryn Davis Stevens, Mission Director, USAID Bangladesh, said, “We need to focus on market based solutions so that the Rohigyas can return to a prosperous future in Myanmar. At the same time, we must educate and ensure essentials for the host communities; going beyond the humanitarian response. Today I would like to stress on livelihoods, educational opportunities, security, stable economic opportunities to guard against dehumanisation of Rohingyas. Our total assistance in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis reached nearly $1.9 billion since August 2017. USAID will continue to provide support to the Rohingya crisis.”
Vivek Prakash, Head of Cooperation, Rohingya Refugee Response, High Commission of Canada to Bangladesh, said, "Canada has been the development partner of Bangladesh since its independence. The Rohingya crisis has moved past the emergency response to a more protracted nature. We are also continuing to mount pressure on the government of Myanmar. Canada continues to provide essential services to the Rohigya community; a key support is LPG gas that is helping in protecting the environment. It is important to maintain social cohesion among the Rohingyas and host communities so that the host community does not feel left behind. But it’s important not to forget this is a humanitarian crisis and in Bangladesh, the Rohingyas have limited opportunity to work so the financial implication is high.
In his concluding remarks the Chair of the Session Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka said, “To make it all inclusive it would have been better if the research considered voices of the Rohingya population as well.”
It may be mentioned, the government of Bangladesh has been striving to expedite the repatriation of about 1.2 million Rohingyas sheltered in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char. However, no significant response is yet perceptible from the Myanmar side.
“Invest, young people will take care of the rest”, said State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Hasan Russell, MP while emphasizing the necessity for hands on-the-job training in Bangladesh. He was addressing as the Chief Guest at the celebration of 10 years of STAR (BRAC’s Skills Trainings for Advancing Resources) project held at BRAC Centre, Dhaka.
“Bangladesh Government is investing in skills development of youth and taking different initiatives. Government and non-profits. Government and NGOs can work hands on hands to reach out to youth who are in needs of education or technical training”, he added.
The on-the-job training programme is a solution to unemployment and poverty for the out of school adolescent and youth, said Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC.
He noted that this programme is even more effective in terms of creating employment for the female participants.
Also present as special guests were, Md Nuruzzaman Sharif, ndc, Director General and Joint Secretary, Bureau of Non-formal Education (BNFE), Dr Md Omar Faruque, Director General and Additional Secretary, Directorate of Technical Education, Dr Md Alfaz Hossain, Project Director, Comprehensive Village Development Program (CVDP).
The training has more positive impacts on girls than boys: Effect on girls’ savings was 6 times higher than that of boys, employment among unmarried women increased by 43%, reduced chances of early marriage by 62% amongst female participants and subsequently delayed early childbirth.
In 2012, BRAC, UNICEF, ILO and Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) launched the Skills Training for Advancing Resources (STAR) as part of the Basic Education for Hard-to-Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC) project. The training builds on the traditional “Ustad-Shagred” (Master-Apprentice) model, where out of school adolescent and youth are placed as apprentices with local businesspersons known as Master Craft Persons. Over the years, STAR has demonstrated its success in providing an alternative learning pathway by training over 120,000 young people, especially in reaching around 60% girls who had no other learning options.
As the training is aligned with market-driven skills needs and the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework (NTVQF), graduate apprentices can go on to acquire Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) certification, and eventually better-paid jobs, in the formal sector as well. STAR has also been recognized as one of the top 10 global solutions for youth by the Generation Unlimited.
BRAC has stepped up the implementation of its policy to use environment-friendly materials. The organisation now stops using PVC banners and all other one-time campaign materials made of plastics as part of its environ-friendly policy.
A memo signed by Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC Bangladesh, was circulated internally for all its staff. The policy will be in effect from tomorrow Monday, 1 November 2022.
This initiative is a part of the organisation’s effort to curb its carbon footprint through environment-friendly measures. BRAC has formulated its strategy and infrastructural targets to reduce carbon emission across all its offices. The measures in this regard include - stop using of all one-time campaign materials such as one-time PVC banners and replacing those with cloth and other environment-friendly materials. The initiative also includes stop using of one-time plastic bottles, bags, spoons, straws and other materials/utensils in all events of BRAC, and ensure use of environment-friendly materials as much as possible for all organisational purposes.
A close monitoring system has also been put in place to ensure rigorous policy and strategy implementation.
BRAC’s first initiative in this regard was brought into effect on 1 November 2019, under which use of one-time plastic bottles was forbidden at all BRAC offices.
The post-pandemic world will see a robust rebuilding if the governments, non-governmental and private actors, innovators, social and mass media and community join hands in well-coordinated efforts to address the inequalities pervasive throughout the communities across the world and that aggravated during Covid-19.
These views came at a 2-day (12-13 October) conference titled “Frugal Innovations Forum” (FIF) hosted by BRAC. With 200 participants and over 40 speakers from the Global South countries, FIF 2022 comprised one daylong field visit and two days of panel discussions, presentations and workshops.
BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, is hosting the Frugal Innovation Forum for the last seven years to facilitate the exchange between the social innovators around the world, especially those from the Global South, and other actors. This year, the FIF’s focused theme “The Future of Development in a Post-Pandemic World” highlighted the topics ranging from financial inclusion and education to healthcare and beyond.
Dr Shamsul Aam, state minister, Ministry of Planning; Dr Lilly Nicholls, high commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; Anir Choudhury, policy advisor, Government of Bangladesh/UNDP; Rani Yan Yan, Chakma Rani (Queen), Chittagong Hill Tracts; Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer, bKash; Hillary Miller-Wise, deputy director, Global Growth and Strategy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Zaved Akhtar, CEO, Unilever Bangladesh Limited; Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone Ltd.; and Md Mahbub ur Rahman, CEO, HSBC Bangladesh; were among the distinguished guests at the different sessions of the 2-day event. Members of the senior management from BRAC also addressed the audience at the event.
State minister for planning Dr Shamsul Aam in his speech today (closing day) focused on the government’s proactive actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh. He said, “we are increasingly prioritising actions to build our resilience, while we are at work in finding nature-based solutions to address the adverse situations triggered by climate change.”
Speaking on how the lessons learned during the pandemic can be utilised in the post-pandemic time, Anir Choudhury policy advisor of Government of Bangladesh/UNDP said, “we have three takeaways from the pandemic, which are:
Eminent economist and chairperson of BRAC Bangladesh Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman emphasised that solutions to the challenges in the Global South should be ground-up, gender intentional and based on people’s lived experiences, which is the key takeaway of the 2-day Frugal Innovation Forum. “To make meta-transformations, the world of policy and non-state actors cannot speak in different languages,” he further added.
Speaking on the closing day, Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, highlighted BRAC’s future role in the new normal era. “BRAC will continue to stay relevant. With the changing nature of society and country, different types of problems will be emerging. We look at ourselves as part of the solution ecosystem with the government, private sector, development partners and social entrepreneurs. BRAC will be doing exactly what it has been doing. We are working side-by-side with the governments, private sectors and change-makers both nationally and globally. Because beautiful things can happen when all of us work together.”