BRAC Annual Report


Who are we

We act as a catalyst, creating opportunities for people living in poverty to realise their potential. We specialise in piloting, perfecting and scaling innovations to impact the lives of millions. We were born in Bangladesh, are almost completely self-sustainable through our own network of social enterprises and investments, and operate in 11 countries across Asia and Africa.

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Chairperson's Foreword

We entered 2016 with 17 sustainable development goals, the first of which was to end all forms of poverty by 2030. This is one of the most pressing yet exciting challenges we face today. For the first time in history we have the means to achieve this goal in the not-too-distant future.

BRAC is increasingly at the forefront of this movement. A provider and global advocate of holistic solutions to reduce poverty over the last 45 years, our ultra poor graduation model in particular is being championed as a solution to help reach the millions of households around the world that still live in extreme poverty.

Established in 2002, the ultra poor graduation approach targets households left behind by economic growth or mainstream development interventions. Our model supports them towards building sustainable livelihoods through a powerful combination of asset transfer, enterprise training, financial services, healthcare, mentoring and social integration. In Bangladesh alone our programme has put 1.77 million households on to sustained pathways out of poverty. With impacts confirmed by rigorous research both in Bangladesh and internationally, the ultra poor graduation approach has now been adapted in 59 programmes across 37 countries by other NGOs, governments and multilateral institutions.

Our work on extreme poverty also extends beyond our own programming. Our ultra poor graduation initiative comprises advocacy efforts and technical assistance on how to adapt and implement the approach effectively in different environments. With staff working across the US, UK, Bangladesh and BRAC country offices around the world, we are spearheading the movement to proliferate graduation and reach as many extreme poor households globally as possible. This year, for example, we started working with the Governments of Kenya and the Philippines to integrate the model into their poverty alleviation strategies.

Our development programmes are funded from internally-generated revenue and grants received from external sources. Our internal revenue totalled BDT 4,997 crore (USD 646 million) this year, making up 82% of our total annual revenue.

We continue to invest in a range of socially-responsible companies. This year we consolidated BRAC Bank, an institution that was founded at a time when it was almost impossible for small and medium enterprise entrepreneurs to obtain financing from the banking sector in Bangladesh. We took banking solutions to entrepreneurs, and have disbursed over USD 4.37 billion since inception. More than half of our lending today is still to small and medium enterprises.

Our home-grown solutions in education, health, microfinance and other development areas now reach 10 countries outside of Bangladesh. This year we continued our expansion in Nepal, moving from the relief we provided after the 2015 earthquake into education and health. We have also launched a 5-year strategy for Africa which will take us into five new countries by 2020.

We have never faced bigger challenges but I truly believe that, as a global community, we have never been more equipped, more connected or more ready to face them. I am filled with a genuine feeling of hope as we look ahead into 2017. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG

Founder and Chairperson

Letter from the Executive Director

This year was an exciting one for us. We embarked on a new strategy that draws on the Sustainable Development Goals and supports the priorities of the Government of Bangladesh. It calls for critically evaluating and redesigning several dimensions of how we work, from the content and delivery approaches of our programmes to identifying where we need organisational change.

While we have initiated internal changes, we continue to achieve large-scale impact through our programmes, though with some shifts in scope and focus.

Some highlights from 2016 include:

Accelerating the eradication of extreme poverty

  • 86,975 households were lifted out of ultra poverty through our programme. We made significant design changes to our ultra poor graduation approach to increase its relevance, effectiveness, and cost efficiency.
  • 5.4 million households accessed financial services through our programme. We are also the first financial institution in Bangladesh to receive the globally-recognised SMART certification for demonstrated commitment to client protection in microfinance activities.

Creating access to critical, quality services

  • 15 million women, adolescent girls and their families received counselling on and services relating to reproductive health and rights. We opened new maternity clinics in rural areas and launched a new adolescent-focused health package in our community-based operations to ensure women and mothers of all ages have access to convenient, comprehensive reproductive services.
  • 3.5 million children and youth attended our schools and engaged in our educational support activities. Compared to previous years, we placed greater emphasis on early childhood development and pre-primary schools to address the significant unmet need in these areas.
  • Our social enterprise Aarong scaled a health security scheme and piloted new financial services designed specifically for artisans and their families.

Advancing women's empowerment

  • We began intensifying the focus on gender transformation in how we deliver services like health, education and microfinance. The first phase of this initiative enabled us to engage over 150,000 people on critical issues like violence against women, early marriage, and sexual harassment.
  • Our empowerment activities included a focus on increasing women's voices and participation in the political space. 986 members of our village groups (polli shomaj) received the Joyeeta award at the sub-district level for their extraordinary achievements in local development.
  • We are addressing structural barriers to empowerment by increasing access to the justice system. Through a consolidated network of legal aid clinics, we were able to maintain service to 24,281 clients while increasing our internal inefficiencies.

Responding to emerging challenges

  • Over 17,000 youth received training in employable skills, with 95% finding employment after completion. We also established the BRAC Institute of Skills Development to enhance our ability to provide quality training in high-demand areas.

The steady trend of economic growth in Bangladesh has also required us to examine our assumptions about people living in poverty. We increasingly see that low-income households are concerned first and foremost with the quality of services, even if it comes at a cost. To serve these demands, we are converting its predominantly free service models into low cost, high quality options, which we hope will ultimately enhance our impact at scale and provide us with a financial base for further innovation and expansion.

We did extensive planning for our health and education programmes while introducing some small-scale cost recovery mechanisms. To avoid excluding those who cannot pay, we are proactively monitoring our activities and building in special provisions for marginalised groups.

Keeping track of changes on the ground is aided by our transition to digital, real-time data systems. Many programmes, including the Skills Development Programme and the Targeting Ultra-Poor Programme, are now equipping frontline staff and managers with technology so that they can use the real-time data for faster and better decision making.

Overall, I'm very proud of our achievements this year, and particularly appreciate the hard work of my dedicated colleagues and partners, including our many extension workers and volunteers, in tirelessly pushing towards our vision of a world that works for all of us.

I hope we can continue to build on the momentum for change and push ourselves to learn more, innovate, and enhance our impact even further in 2017.

Dr Muhammad Musa

Executive Director



households graduated from extreme poverty in Bangladesh

households graduated from extreme poverty in Bangladesh

of households received healthcare across hard-to-reach regions


of households received healthcare across hard-to-reach regions

total disbursement


total disbursement (increase of 26% from 2015)

people were equipped with skills

people were equipped with skills

safe migration

potential labour migrants equipped with information on safe migration

natural and manmade disasters

people supported before, during and after natural and manmade disasters

people accessed agricultural services

people accessed agricultural services

gender integration

people, including men and boys, reached through gender integration efforts

female village group members

female village group members participated in union council elections and 580 won seats

recovered on behalf of female clients


recovered on behalf of female clients

service delivery programmes


people reached through our service delivery programmes

people accessing safe water

people accessing safe water

people screened for TB symptoms


people screened for TB symptoms

malaria cases treated

malaria cases treated

houses built back better after fires in urban slums

houses built back better after fires in urban slums

schools and centres


children, over half of them girls, enrolled in 48,000 schools and centres

pre-primary programmes

children between the ages of 3-5 years accessed early childhood development and pre-primary programmes

total borrowers reached


total borrowers reached (increase of 10% from 2015)



Five-Year Strategic Plan


In the next five years, we will empower 20 million of the most underserved and disenfranchised women and men to gain greater access to and have more control over resources, decisions and actions, while continuing to maximise opportunities and expand services for the unmet needs of the 110 million people we already reach in Bangladesh.


Eliminate extreme poverty:

Reduce the cost of our targeting ultra poor programme and scale it up to graduate over half a million households out of extreme poverty.

Financially empower people living in poverty:

Strengthen client protection mechanisms and expand financial education services to all clients.

Skills and decent work for underprivileged women and men:

Equip 500,000 young people (50% women, 10% person with disabilities and minority groups) with skills training and link them to decent jobs or entrepreneurship.

Resilience to climate change and emergency response capacity:

Establish ourselves as a leading humanitarian response entity, helping people adapt to (and mitigate, when applicable) climate change. Integrate climate change adaptability in all programmes.

Gender equality:

Reduce violence, increase men’s engagement and increase gender parity within BRAC through integrated actions for women’s empowerment across programmes. Create a gender resource centre to provide technical support to programmes.

Pro-poor urban development:

Deliver customised, affordable and quality basic services for people living in urban poverty. Mobilise communities to be more aware of their rights. Advocate for safe, affordable and quality transportation and pro-poor urban governance.

Universal healthcare access and improved nutrition:

Address emerging health problems, like non-communicable diseases, increase the professionalism of frontline services and introduce a wide range of for-profit products and services.

Invest in the next generation through early childhood and improved education quality:

Enhance quality of and access to education at all levels and advocate for quality education nationally. Free schools will become fee-based, with vouchers for those living in extreme poverty.


Most of our social development programmes will adopt surplus generating social enterprise models. Five programmes will be the initial focus; health, education, skills and employment, migration and human rights and legal services. All other social development programmes will implement cost-recovery models, even if they do not generate surplus in the short term.

We will selectively accept strategic donor funding for some of our programmes (including climate change, disaster response and eradicating extreme poverty), but donor funding will be increasingly sought through new channels, such as private philanthropy and corporate partnerships.

Our social enterprise cluster will position its products and services to appeal to new market segments. Leadership structures and investment plans are being redesigned to allow this to happen.

We will improve our organisational efficiency and cost effectiveness, through streamlining our key business processes (eg, procurement, recruitment), and though cutting down avoidable costs.

Organisational focus:

Develop management and business thinking capacity:

Change leadership style to encourage risk taking, promote innovation and ensure a continuous succession of leaders. Attract staff with business skills that can implement social enterprise models. Introduce e-learning and strengthen staff capacity on technology and communication.

Increase efficiency of structures and processes and leverage greater use of data for decision making:

Incorporate more technology, particularly around data collection and management. Use more evidence in management decision making to run a leaner and more effective organisation.

Increase influence through knowledge and evidence-driven advocacy and strategic partnership:

Increase our value as a knowledge partner of choice of other humanitarian and development stakeholders. Attract innovation, implementation and knowledge dissemination partners.

Strengthen and align support programmes:

Increase accountability within support units through streamlining processes and introducing feedback loops.

Develop mechanisms to strategically support and leverage BRAC International and other BRAC institutions more systematically:

Bring the entire BRAC family together through a global strategy.

We have always been an evolving organisation, and the strategic plan 2016-202 is a continuation of this trend. Bangladesh graduated from low income country status to lower middle income country status in 2015 and the country's economic progression shows no signs of slowing. It is essential that we take early steps to ensure that we will be able to respond to changes in funding patterns and development needs.

As a leading organisation in the field of poverty reduction, we will become even more relevant, efficient and effective, continuing to ensure that Bangladesh is a country where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.

Eliminating extreme poverty

2.5 million households in Bangladesh live in extreme poverty.

The challenge

People living in extreme poverty are forced to make impossible choices every single day about basic necessities such as food, medicine, housing, or education.

Extreme poverty is more than numbers. It is the denial of dignity.

As much progress has been made globally to alleviate poverty in all its forms, we are now intent on eradicating it.

Bangladesh has reduced its poverty level to 27%, but the challenge of extreme poverty remains - and women are disproportionately affected.

Pockets of extreme poverty are particularly prevalent in the hard-to-reach regions, where often entire communities lack access to basic services and limited economic opportunities.

The approach

We are working towards eliminating extreme poverty completely from Bangladesh by 2020, through a powerful combination of direct and complementary efforts.

Firstly, we are graduating over half a million households out of extreme poverty over the next five years through our own activities. Our graduation approach for extreme poverty is a development intervention for situations where microfinance is inappropriate or insufficient, specifically designed to support and uplift households left behind by macroeconomic growth and mainstream development interventions. We are intensifying and scaling up these efforts, as well as looking into how to further improve effectiveness and decrease the cost.

We are taking a specially integrated approach in poverty pockets such as wetlands (haor), riverine islands (char) and indigenous populations.

These regions are socially marginalised and geographically detached from mainstream development interventions. We are providing multi-faceted support through a single platform that includes education, legal services and activities that promote women’s empowerment.

Beyond direct service provision, we are working closely with the government to affect favourable changes to its social safety net programmes. Internationally, we are also assisting other countries and organisations to adopt our graduation model.

The impact


Pockets of extreme poverty exist all across Bangladesh, often in remote settings with limited infrastructure. Manual data management in these areas is time-consuming, limiting the face-to-face hours that staff can spend in client homes.

To tackle this challenge, we are digitising the systems that we use to monitor graduation, in collaboration with the US-based technology solutions provider Amplifier Strategies. It is speeding up data collection and allowing rapid decision-making.

While we often associate digital systems with easing the responsibilities of office-based urban staff, it is our operations in the remotest areas that report the most positive impacts.

Field staff input data into smartphones during each household visit. GPS instantly locates the place visited and identifies the client. Her information is added, verified and recorded in real-time.

One measurable gain is that the end-line surveys, carried out at the end of every 24-month programme cycle of graduation, will no longer be necessary. Digital data entry is improving data quality and decreasing the time needed to administer surveys by more than half. Impact analysis will also take less time and be more comprehensive, as the system will contain aggregated data of all households. Monitoring resources can be efficiently allocated, which will specially benefit regions where qualified workers are scarce.

The digitising process is expected to cover 30% of our field operations by 2017.


Over half the people in Bangladesh - over 50 million adults - do not have access to a formal financial institution and customised financial products.

The challenge

People living in poverty across the world are financially vulnerable in myriad ways, because of limited earning opportunities, reliance on unreliable and variable income sources, and limited ability to invest in assets.

Millions of households still save, borrow and manage day-to-day expenditures through informal means in Bangladesh, such as hiding cash, using friends and family, or going to high interest money lenders, especially when faced with an emergency. These choices are often risky, unreliable and expensive.

The approach

We are one of world’s largest providers of financial services for households rising from poverty, providing financial services in seven countries across Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

We believe that everyone, regardless of their income level, should have access to and be able to effectively use the financial services they need.

With the help of microfinance, people excluded from the formal banking system can access a suite of financial services such as loans, savings, and microinsurance products. Microfinance facilitates families to build assets and to reduce vulnerability to health shocks or natural disasters, as people can borrow or withdraw savings to resume economic activity. Similarly, it smooths consumption for families who might otherwise be forced to sell assets or borrow high interest loans from local lenders when there is a short-term liquidity crunch.

We understand people in poverty have heterogeneous financial needs. Our range of products and services encompass micro-loans for entrepreneurship, household investments, medical expenditures, farming and migration, as well as savings via cash or mobile money, microinsurance and financial education.

We believe that sustainable poverty reduction must unite both economic and social development. Our microfinance activities, as part of our holistic approach to development, complement our other social services, making a powerful combination for building stable, healthy, and empowered livelihoods.

The impact

Improving microfinance services through technology

This year has seen the scaling up of a number of digital initiatives, the most significant being:

Smart collection: We initiated the Smart Collection module, an application that enables field staff to instantly record client payment information and view transaction histories via handheld Android devices. Clients no longer need to visit branches to collect statements regarding repaid loan balances, outstanding loan amounts and savings balances and may request general information as well as a mini statement from their credit officer. This system also enables managers to rapidly identify repayment issues wherever they are.

Increase accessibility using mobile money for all: All microfinance clients can now deposit savings using bKash, BRAC Bank’s mobile money platform, through BRAC’s bKash-enabled deposit premium scheme. This service which enables clients to make deposits remotely, and offers a convenient and high return savings alternative for borrowers, especially in hard-to-reach areas, such as river and sea islands, wetlands (haor), riverine islands (char) and hilly regions, where branches are further away.

To support client orientation with bKash we have scaled up our team of customer service assistants to address clients’ general queries and concerns, help them learn basic operations for mobile transaction facilities and brief clients on how to use digital financial services.


2.2 million young people enter Bangladesh’s workforce every year, but three out of every four business leaders report that skilled workers are scarce.

The challenge

Young people in Bangladesh face a precarious future, despite living in one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Over two million people enter the potential labour force annually, but two out of every five young people are not in employment, education or training. Approximately ten million young people are currently unemployed or underemployed.

More than 755,000 people left for overseas employment in 2016. Economic migrants face myriad challenges, from high fees charged by recruitment agencies to low wages, lack of information on migration opportunities and risks, exploitation and abuse.

The approach

We offer high quality training to people from all backgrounds, and link graduates with decent work opportunities that respect the rights of workers. We work both in formal and informal sectors. We identify occupations in demand and skills in short supply in partnership with market actors and employers.

We offer technical vocational training, enterprise and institution-based apprenticeships, entrepreneurship and enterprise development, especially for startups in the informal sector, working to improve working conditions and strengthen market value chains.

We support the government in their goal of ensuring employable skills for all, and our training is in line with the National Skills Development Policy, with a special focus on women, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

We promote safe, regular and responsible migration, providing support to labour migrants at every step of their journey to ensure that they know their rights and can exercise them. This includes ensuring potential and departing labour migrants pursue safe migration routes, financing, have appropriate skills to avail decent work in host countries and supporting reintegration.

The impact

Business intelligence system means efficiency at speed

Our flagship project, skills training for advancing resources (STAR), innovates upon the age-old practice of employment through formalising apprenticeship-based skills training, and it is making changes at scale to the skills landscape.

One of the keys to our success is data management, which allows us to constantly map the effectiveness of our operations. This year we significantly invested in improving that through a real-time business intelligence solution.

The solution allows us to track the progress of young people, master craftspeople who offer apprenticeships, as well as entrepreneurs and institutions where graduates are placed. We have comprehensive performance metrics for all groups, which demand constant and rigorous follow up and support.

Our frontline staff sync the data collected during every household and firm visit on their tablets and smartphones. The data feeds into the real time analytics being used by staff at all levels, enabling them to take immediate actionable decisions. The new system particularly brings advantages in monitoring apprenticeship activities and job placements, keeping their progress on track in real-time.

The solution is being used across all 43 districts that we operate in.

Our goal across BRAC is to equip 500,000 people with skills through customised training programmes by 2020. Through this new solution, we hope to show the benefit of using big data in achieving big goals in the skills development sector.


27 million people are predicted to be at risk of sea level rise in Bangladesh by 2050.

The challenge

Climate change is a concern now affecting every one of us, and Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to its effects.

Two-thirds of the country is less than five metres above sea level, and floods are increasingly destroying homes, croplands and damaging infrastructure. Approximately 10,000 hectares of land is lost every year due to erosion. Agricultural land is shrinking by 1% annually and the population is growing by 1.2%. This is creating a rise in demand for food, while increasingly unpredictable weather conditions pose a growing challenge to farmers trying to meet those demands.

The approach

Our scale, ongoing action research, and depth of engagement gives us a unique opportunity to support communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change and recover from disasters.

We support communities to build resilience, respond to disasters and rebuild. We focus on access to safe water and sanitation, alternative and adaptive livelihood options, access to health facilities, continuation of education, specific support for girls, women and children and psychosocial counselling to help communities cope with distress.

Beyond our work on the ground, we advocate on a national level for collaborative approaches and coordinate with local governments on our activities.

The agricultural sector is one of the sectors most affected by climate change. Our programmes work with governments to achieve and sustain food security in seven countries across Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

We build systems of production and distribution, offering quality seeds at fair prices while developing better crop varieties and practices. We promote efficient farming techniques and environmental sustainability, and have seen in practice that these do not need to be mutually exclusive. We develop markets using an approach that encourages entrepreneurship and supports countries become self-sufficient in food production, and our global network of community model farmers are permanent ambassadors of good farming practices.

The impact

Architectural design for fire safety in Dhaka slums

40% of Dhaka’s population lives in poverty, and most people reside in slums or informal settlements. Korail and Saat Tola slums are home to hundreds of thousands of people who have mostly moved from rural areas in search of better lives. Approximately 2,500 of those people suddenly found themselves homeless when a massive fire tore through both slums in December, destroying 649 homes.

It was the middle of winter, and people lost everything.

We hit the ground immediately, providing access to food, safe spaces for children and medical care. Realising we needed support, we mobilised BDT 6.4 million (USD 79,716) from UNDP, BDT 3 million from Dhaka North City Corporation, and crowdfunded BDT 2.9 million locally.

In conjunction with the community, the city corporation and other NGOs, and in parallel with emergency relief efforts, we used the funds to rebuild. A voluntary team of architects consulted with families in the middle of armies of field staff distributing food, warm clothes, water and cookware.

The architects redesigned and rebuilt the 649 homes with better ventilation and bigger windows, and facilitated dialogue between house owners to reduce house sizes by a small increment each to allow wider roads for fire trucks. Dialogue between tenants and house owners resulted in a six-month rent waiver for most home owners.


Eight out of ten married women in Bangladesh experience violence at least once in their lifetime.

The challenge

Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in the world among girls under 15.

32% of currently married, employed women who earn cash make decisions mainly by themselves on how to use their own earnings. Less than half of married women participate in decisions about their own healthcare, their child’s healthcare, major household purchases and visits to their family or relatives. Women own less than 2% of total land.

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are complex issues, stemming from factors at multiple levels.

The approach

Women from the poorest and most marginalised communities have always been our primary constituency.

We provide a platform for one million women to raise their voices through democratic grassroots institutions which close the gap between communities and local government. We educate and support women to exercise their rights, develop leadership and support actions against injustice. In parallel, we work with local government offices to improve governance through institutional strengthening, gender sensitising, and establishing elected female representatives.

We see a lack of access to legal and property rights as a major driver of poverty. We are the largest NGO-led legal aid service provider in the world, offering services such as legal education, dispute resolution and workshops with local community leaders. Through a network of entrepreneurs, we provide land measurement services to help people with the least access to property to navigate the land ownership system.

In addition to targeted programmes, a key component of our new strategy is the integration of a gender-transformative approach into all of our operations to achieve four overarching gender goals – a substantive reduction in violence, increase in men's engagement and support for gender equality in the community, and increased gender parity and gender equality within the organisation.

The impact

A five-year movement for women begins across Bangladesh

A world that works for all of us will never be possible if only half of the world has the opportunity to be involved in building it.

Every morning women across the country determinedly walk to schools and workplaces, and women are represented in every level of government. Despite this, they are still underrepresented in decision-making and leadership roles across every sector and in the household, and significantly overrepresented in domestic violence and sexual harassment statistics.

There is work to be done with both women and men.

60% of men in urban areas and 62% of men in rural areas believe that it is acceptable to beat women. 28% of women agree with one or more reasons justifying wife beating.

Our new gender strategy reflects our understanding of the complex relationship between women's empowerment, women's rights and gender equality.

Based on the successes of several gender-focused initiatives, we are now embedding gender transformation into how we deliver all of our services. We will work through all of our programme platforms in this movement over the next five years, confident that this is what it will take to shift social norms and significantly advance gender equality.

Coupled with government initiatives and activism from other non-governmental entities and individual activists, the goal of the movement is to reduce violence against women by 10% in 2020.


Up to five million people every year in Bangladesh are pushed into poverty because of healthcare costs.

The challenge

Demographic transitions, lifestyle changes and environmental factors, combined with malnutrition, are leading to a global epidemiological shift from communicable to non-communicable diseases. Healthcare costs are rapidly increasing, with approximately two-thirds being covered by out-of-pocket expenditure in Bangladesh.

Rapid urbanisation is placing a further burden on already-limited urban healthcare services. Identifying and providing quality care for tuberculosis remain difficult, with increasing drug resistance and childhood TB. Tackling malaria in hilly areas is also a challenge. A lack of quality and inefficiency in care, and an inadequately-skilled workforce are causing high morbidity and cost, and hindering progress towards SDGs.

The approach

Our community-based healthcare approach employs a wide network of community health workers to ensure that people living in poverty can access high-quality, affordable services. The approach was first pioneered in Bangladesh and has been replicated in five countries across Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The health workers are social entrepreneurs, earning income by selling health products and services while improving health and nutrition.

They ensure a continuum of care, bridging the gap between formal healthcare systems and the community. Over 50,000 health workers create demand, educate and offer reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, nutrition, non-communicable disease and disability care services, and connect communities with government and private facilities.

We educate on hygiene, and provide access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation in hard-to-reach and urban areas. Our approach for TB diagnosis and treatment focuses on community level education and engagement, conducting orientations to engage stakeholders in identifying patients, ensure treatment adherence and reduce stigma. Tackling malaria includes managing cases, distributing long lasting insecticidal nets and disseminating messages.

Sustainability across all of our work is ensured through community ownership and partnership with the government, the private sector and a wide range of other partners.

The impact

Eyecare, everywhere

Eye health is yet to receive adequate attention in the public health agenda, even though 285 million people globally suffer visual impairment, of whom 39 million are blind.

In Bangladesh, 8.6 million have low-vision and 950,000 are blind. Eight in every ten people who report as blind have cataracts, a disease usually curable through a relatively simple intervention. About 12 million people are losing productivity due to presbyopia (near-sightedness), that could be tackled through a pair of eye-glasses that costs approximately one-fifth of a Starbucks coffee.

The already-limited eye care facilities available in the country are concentrated in cities, making access nearly impossible for underprivileged groups and people living in rural areas. Primary eye care barely exists.

Drawing on experience from Aravind Eye Care in India, we established three Vision Centres to bring affordable primary eye care to communities. Our trained vision technicians offer services supported by ophthalmologists of partner hospitals, through telemedicine, and correct refractive errors by getting the precise eyeglasses to people (eyewear is available in the centres).

The government has committed to introduce primary eye care at sub-districts and below, in partnership with NGOs and the private sector. This public-private partnership approach will ensure that even if eye health is not on the global public health agenda, access to affordable, comprehensive, quality eye care for all is on Bangladesh’s agenda.


The population in Bangladesh’s towns and cities will have doubled to nearly 100 million by 2050.

The challenge

Economic opportunities are pulling people to the cities. Climate change is pushing them out of low-lying areas. 40% of Dhaka’s citizens (12 million people) live in poverty, mostly in slums and other informal settlements, with the constant threat of eviction, violence, and disasters like fires.

Piped water reaches only about one-third of the urban population, and there is no systematic sewer disposal and treatment system. Only Dhaka has a sewer system, and it serves just 18% of the city. One in two women are harassed by public transport operators.

Unplanned urbanisation coupled with lack of proper services poses one of the greatest dangers for the future of Bangladesh.

The approach

We are a new programme aiming to make Bangladesh’s growing urban spaces liveable for all. By 2020, we will have a tested and proven model that can be scaled up across the country not only to tackle the escalating urban poverty and inequality, but also to promote sustainable urbanisation.

We are focusing on delivering customised, affordable and quality basic services and linking with government services. This is accompanied by empowering communities on citizen rights and entitlements, transparent and accountable access to public services. We are also supporting the building of innovations that can bring transformational changes in making sure citizens are more informed about local development and aware of their rights, and technology innovations that can create more opportunities and play a role in better services for urban residents.

We are building a strong policy advocacy platform to promote a citywide planning and management approach to include low income settlements in service provisioning. This includes working with urban government institutions, city corporations and municipalities, the Urban Development Directorate and professional institutions, to help low-income communities benefit from urban growth and strengthen their capacity to develop, adopt and effectively implement pro-poor policies and services in urban spaces.

The impact

Crowdsourcing innovations for social challenges

Our cities, our solutions and coding for Bangladesh

Bangladesh is rapidly changing, and we are facing new challenges every day in our urban spaces. We started BRACathon at the end of 2015, a competition to make mobile applications that could offer solutions for real social problems. Following its success, we complemented it with the Urban Innovation Challenge at the end of 2016, to engage young people to find urban social business models.

We spent this year incubating the five winning BRACathon apps, which cover solutions to problems ranging from tuberculosis to fire response. Incubation included prototyping, intensive mentoring and training, piloting - under the guidance of our leading development practitioners, promotion of the apps to increase their user bases, and connecting them to our programmatic work.

We launched the Urban Innovation Challenge in October, in partnership with Dhaka North City Corporation. We are offering seed support, bootcamps and coworking space to a new generation of innovators, and throwing our active support behind them to build the cities they want to live in. Participants will submit social business models as innovative solutions to specific urban problems in early 2017.


13% of children aged 3-5 are receiving early childhood education in Bangladesh.

The challenge

Globally, children from the poorest households are five times more like to be out of school than those from the wealthiest.

A key challenge for Bangladesh is to ensure quality education for all. Children who participate in quality early childhood programmes are less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school. Currently only 50% of students who enroll in first grade reach class 10. Dropout rates among girls in secondary school is particularly high.

Curricula, teaching approaches and examination systems at all levels lack critical thinking and analytical skills.

The approach

Our low-cost, scalable schooling model has made us the world’s largest private secular education provider. 1.1 million students are currently enrolled in our schools across eight countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

We firmly believe that girls’ education is one of the greatest catalysts for large-scale societal change, and our classrooms are always at least 50% girls. We also highly value diversity, with at least one child with a disability included in every classroom.

We believe that generational cycles of poverty can be broken by ensuring that classroom learning is relevant to all. By teaching children to think for themselves, we inculcate an enterprising mindset. Our schools have allowed over 12 million children to grow up with opportunities that would have been unimaginable in previous decades.

We address educational needs from early childhood to tertiary level, including indigenous mother-tongue based curriculums for ethnic children. In secondary education, we support government schools with teacher training, libraries and computer aided learning. We provide scholarships, particularly in Bangladesh and Uganda, and schooling for especially hard-to-reach populations using boat schools in Bangladesh and the Philippines. Our youth interventions create safe spaces in communities for adolescents to socialise and learn valuable life skills, employable skills and access finance.

The impact

Going digital: reaching 20 million students with quality learning content

2016 was the final year of the 'Developing multimedia digital content based on primary curriculum' project, an initiative of the ICT division, in partnership with the Directorate of Primary Education and National Curriculum and Text Board, BRAC and Save the Children.

A total of 21 primary textbooks on five subjects (mathematics, Bangla, English, science and an introduction to Bangladesh and the world) were digitised. We led the digitisation of the content in 16 of the books.

All district primary education offices are now ensuring that children are using digital content in classrooms. The content has so far been downloaded over three million times. In Bangladesh, where one in every four people live below poverty line, but more than 80% use a mobile phone, the use of this digital learning content is expected to grow substantially.

A pilot initiative has started to understand the effectiveness and user-friendliness of the digital content in 30 schools across the country. The content will continue to be modified based on the feedback.

We are now partnering with the government and other non-governmental organisations to develop quality digital content for secondary level education.

Social Enterprises

Solutions for social challenges and surplus for greater impact

The challenge

Our presence in both rural and urban economies helps us understand the challenges that continue to hinder economic growth and social empowerment. Two of the most significant of those, particularly for women in rural areas, are sustainable livelihood generation and market access. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in the economy.

If you offer a person a dairy product, they can eat for a day. If you teach them to rear cows, they can sustain for a lifetime. What if a person knows how to rear cows, but they do not have enough capital to buy any though? Our work started not with giving dairy products or teaching people how to rear cows, but with lending money to families in rural areas to start their own small dairy operations. Then we created a social enterprise that linked them with urban consumers who wanted dairy products. The same enterprise - Aarong Dairy - now provides market access to 50,000 dairy farmers across the country.

Social enterprise lies at the intersection of business and traditional non-profit.

Social enterprises are self-sustaining cause-driven business entities that create social impact by offering solutions to social challenges and reinvesting their surplus to sustain and generate greater impact.

The approach

Social enterprises act as a catalyst for change in identifying social, economic and environmental problems, and providing equitable and measurable solutions that address unmet needs. They ensure business viability, continuously offering competitive, marketable and relevant solutions and innovations across the value chain, while keeping their social mission at the core of their business. They sustain themselves financially and reinvest their surpluses back to the original social cause to create more social impact.

We invest in initiatives that engage individuals, micro and small enterprises as suppliers, producers and consumers. Instead of maximising profits, our 13 social enterprises focus on maximising gains in quality of life for all.




Harnessing the skills of 65,000 artisans across Bangladesh through a vast network of rural production centres and independent producers. Aarong is one of the country's largest lifestyle retail chains.

BRAC Artificial Insemination

BRAC Artificial Insemination

Providing insemination services to cattle farmers to boost local income and milk production, to optimise on gains made by introducing higher quality cow breeds. BRAC Artificial Insemination employs a total of 2,200 trained insemination workers across the country.

BRAC Chicken

BRAC Chicken

Supplying high quality dressed chicken and value-added frozen food products to a range of clients and retailers. BRAC Chicken operates one of the largest automated poultry processing plants in the country.

BRAC Cold Storage

BRAC Cold Storage

Storing the harvested yields of potato farmers to ensure that none of their hard work goes to waste. BRAC Cold Storage ensures freshness not only by storing produce, but also by integrating farmers with the potato processing industry.

BRAC Dairy

BRAC Dairy

Ensuring fair prices for over 50,000 farmers across Bangladesh and providing a wide variety of high quality dairy products to urban consumers. BRAC Dairy is the third largest milk processor in the country, with operations spanning the entire dairy value chain.

BRAC Fisheries

BRAC Fisheries

Harnessing the potential of Bangladesh’s ponds for commercial fish farming. BRAC Fisheries is the market leader for all of the products it offers, as well as the leading wholesale fish food supplier in regional markets.

BRAC Nursery

BRAC Nursery

Providing access to high quality seedlings and promoting tree plantation across the country. BRAC Nursery has been awarded first prize in the NGO category in the National Tree Fair for the last nine years.

BRAC Printing Pack

BRAC Printing Pack

Producing flexible packaging material for food items, processed edibles and agricultural inputs. BRAC Printing Pack is one of the most significant competitors in the country’s packaging industry.

BRAC Recycled Handmade Paper

Recycled Handmade Paper

Pioneering recycled handmade paper products in Bangladesh, by turning a wide variety of discarded materials into items such as envelopes, gift boxes and photo frames. BRAC Recycled Handmade Paper employs 100 women.



Ensuring a steady supply of iodised salt to fight a deficiency that many people living in rural areas suffer from. BRAC Salt ensures steady incomes for a wide network of local salt farmers.

BRAC Seed and Agro

BRAC Seed and Agro

Processing, marketing and distributing high quality seeds through an extensive network of farmers, dealers and retailers across Bangladesh. BRAC Seed and Agro is the largest private sector seed producer in the country.

BRAC Sanitary Napkin and Delivery Kit

BRAC Sanitary Napkin and Delivery Kit

Producing safe, hygienic and handmade sanitary napkins to allow women to attend work and school regularly, as well as delivery kits and medical kits to facilitate safe births. BRAC Sanitary Napkin and Delivery Kit employs 170 women.

BRAC Sericulture

BRAC Sericulture

Pioneering silk production in Bangladesh, we engage women living in rural poverty in every operational stage of the silk-making process. BRAC Sericulture’s beautiful fabric is sold in Aarong and in trade fairs.


Investing for social impact

The approach

We invest in socially responsible companies that assist us in our mission to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our network of seven investments help us strive towards the goal of self-sustainability.

Our strategy reflects our belief that investing to generate financial returns and lasting social and environmental impact are not only compatible, but also mutually-reinforcing objectives.

BRAC Bank Ltd.


Tapping into the entrepreneurial initiatives of the SME sector. Today, with over 220,139 million of loans disbursed till date, BRAC Bank is the country’s largest SME financier, and has made more than 410,817 dreams come true. We have 44.64% shareholding of BRAC Bank.

In 2016:

Financed BDT 700 million in the green sector with investments in LEED-certified green industry, plastic recycling plants, biogas plants and energy efficient capital machinery.

Financial performance:

Net profit rose 83% to BDT 4,460 million

Delta BRAC Housing

Delta BRAC Housing (DBH) Finance Corporation Limited

Providing financial security to home-owners through highly flexible loan schemes. DBH is the largest institution in real estate finance, and is considered as a pioneer and market leader in the private sector housing finance sector. We have 18.39% shareholding of DBH.

In 2016:

Awarded the highest credit rating triple ‘AAA’ for the tenth consecutive year. AAA reflects DBH's strong asset quality, capital adequacy, operating efficiency, management strength, corporate governance and market leadership.

Financial performance:

Net profit BDT 662.8 million



Connecting the country through a nationwide wireless network, bringing affordable internet to everyone. We have 19.99% shareholding of BRACNet.

In 2016:

Continued to provide broadband Internet experience in rural areas in 64 districts of Bangladesh.

Financial performance:

Total profit BDT 24.71 million

Guardian Life Insurance

Guardian Life Insurance

Using innovation, proper risk management and prudent investment mechanisms to ensure maximum financial benefits for clients. BRAC Foundation has 10% shareholding of Guardian Life Insurance.

In 2016:

Partnered with BRAC Microfinance to launch credit shield insurance for its 5 million microfinance clients.

Financial performance:

Insurance coverage of 212,777 people

IPDC Finance Limited

IPDC Finance Limited

Playing a leading role in the development of the private sector in the country. IPDC is the first private sector development financial institution of the country. We have 25% shareholding of IPDC.

In 2016:

Rebranded and expanded its range of specialised services that include home loans to ensure affordable housing for middle and low-income families, and green financing, which provides loans to enable companies to become environment friendly.

Financial performance:

Net profit rose 26.2% to BDT 303 million

BRAC IT Services

BRAC IT Services

Innovative, end-to-end technology solutions. We have 48.67% shareholding of BRAC IT Services.

In 2016:

The flagship product, the microfinance solution SbiCloud, is successfully running in several countries including Uganda, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Tanzania and we are working towards the Bangladesh launch.

Financial performance:

Net profit BDT 48 million

BRAC Tea Estates

Model estates that improve the lives of workers, with access to healthcare, education, sanitation and safe drinking water. We have 99.94% shareholding of BRAC Karnafuli Tea Company Limited, 99.85% of BRAC Kaiyacherra Tea Company Limited and 99.12% of BRAC Kodala Tea Company Limited.

In 2016:

The health programme doubled its budget of BDT 10 million to BDT 20.2 million after seeing positive results.


What are the impacts of programme activities in poverty pockets?

Focusing on education, sanitation, food consumption, health, financial and physical assets in 129 villages (as treatment areas) from the bordering areas of Derai and Baniachang, and another 130 villages (as control areas) from 14 adjacent sub-districts of Baniachong and Derai.

Key finding: Programme activities decrease reliance on loans from local moneylenders.

How sustainable are the impacts of skills training?

Analysing the short and long-term impacts of our skills training for advancing resources (STAR) project.

Key findings: Employment rose from 27% to 81%, and impact was higher for women.

What effect does skills training have on out-of-school adolescents?

Studying the impact on employment, earnings, financial assets and confidence of adolescents.

Key findings: Training increased labour market participation and earning. Employment increased by 45% and earning by approximately USD 14 per month. Increased earnings resulted in increased household welfare i.e. better diet and durable asset holdings.

Who is using long lasting insecticidal nets?

Cross sectional research into utilisation of insecticidal nets.

Key findings: There has been a significant increase in the possession and usage of insecticidal nets in malaria endemic districts of Bangladesh. Increased use was also found among children under five in all three endemic districts.

How much does tuberculosis cost?

Investigating the cost of tuberculosis in Bangladesh to determine effective programme strategies for health system delivery, using data gathered from 900 tuberculosis patients in our intervention areas.

Key findings: Treatment costs 4% of total household income. The average total cost per TB patient is BDT 10,360.

Are people willing to pay for safe drinking water in coastal areas?

Identifying the community’s preference of drinking water source, affordability and willingness to pay for safe drinking water in the coastal sub-district of Tala.

Key findings: Unsafe arsenic levels were found in more than one third of the tested tube wells. Electrical conductivity, which shows the ionic composition of water, was found to be higher than WHO standards in 99% of tested sources. 91% of the households were willing to pay for safe drinking water. Most of the households (75%) were willing to pay BDT 20 per week to get water in 20 litre containers each day.

What effect do village WASH committees have on implementing disability-friendly latrines?

Modifying existing sanitary latrines to make them disability-friendly, with the volunteers of two disability-focused organisations - ADD International and SNKS. The study was conducted with 50 village wash committees of Rangpur and Rajshahi, and another 50 from these divisions were selected as control areas.

Key finding: There was a significant change in the modifications to existing sanitary latrine usage in the intervention areas compared to the control areas.

Effectiveness of learning in the Kumon method

Exploring the effectiveness of the Kumon method, a Japanese learning method for mathematics and reading, in developing the mathematical skills of BRAC primary school students.

Key findings: After eight months of intervention, students in the treatment group achieved both speed and mastery in mathematics compared to the control group. Students who had higher scores needed less time to solve mathematical problems.

Assessment of road safety knowledge

Analysing the impact of the road safety project on individual and group level knowledge and attitudes of drivers and community members regarding road safety.

Key findings: Drivers understand the importance of following traffic rules and signs, vehicle fitness, and carrying licenses and other essential documentation. Some roads were improved and maintained through by communities themselves.

BRAC across the world


Strategic Partners

Major Institutional Donors

Knowledge Partners



DR MUHAMMAD MUSA Executive Director BRAC
FARUQUE AHMED Executive Director BRAC International
SHIB NARAYAN KAIRY Chief Financial Officer BRAC and BRAC International
ASIF SALEH Senior Director Strategy, Communication and Empowerment BRAC and BRAC International
TAMARA HASAN ABED Senior Director Enterprises, BRAC


ABDUL BAYES DIRECTOR Research and Evaluation
ANNA MINJ DIRECTOR Community Empowerment Integrated Development Gender Justice and Diversity
GAWHER NAYEEM WAHRA DIRECTOR Disaster Management and Climate Change
KAM MORSHED DIRECTOR Advocacy for Social Change Technology Partnership Strengthening
LAMIA RASHID DIRECTOR Africa Region, BRAC International
DR KAOSAR AFSANA DIRECTOR Health, Nutrition and Population
MD AKRAMUL ISLAM DIRECTOR Communicable Diseases Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
NANDA DULAL SAHA DIRECTOR Internal Audit, BRAC and BRAC International
RACHEL KABIR DIRECTOR Chairperson’s Office
SHAMERAN ABED DIRECTOR Microfinance Targeting the Ultra Poor BRAC and BRAC International
ZULFIQAR ALI DIRECTOR Research, BRAC International