BRAC

BRAC

Monday, 05 February 2018 00:00

Education

uganda-ECD

Despite universal primary and secondary education in Uganda, the demand for free education outweighs the availability of places at government schools. 52% of the population is under 15 years old and It is common for classes to be over packed with inadequate facilities and unmotivated students and teachers. The number of children excelling has dropped significantly due to a lack of funds for those hoping to achieve a higher quality education at private schools. Our interventions address the problem of talented students accessing quality higher education institutions.

BRAC in Uganda in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation is implementing a national level secondary scholarship programme targeting academically talented yet economically marginalised young Ugandans. Over a period of eight years, we will enable 5,000 students to complete secondary school and transition into higher education. We will also help them acquire leadership qualities, work skills, social and emotional competencies, and experience in community service. We target both O-Level scholars who enter Senior One (S1) and receive support for six years and the A-Level scholars who will enter at Senior Five (S5) and receive support for two years. 60% of the scholars are girls.

Additionally, we are providing early childhood development services through the BRAC Play Lab project. We teach children using child friendly pedagogy of learning through play, and incorporating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) with emphasis on Play, Make, Share and Think. The Play Lab Project establishes educational initiatives for children aged 3 to 5, their parents, and caregivers, focusing on whole child development which incorporates elements of SEL. The goal is to ensure physical, cognitive, language-communication and social-emotional development of children through play in a joyful, creative and child friendly environment.

Our projects:

ProgrammeProjectDonorStarting DateDuration
Education MasterCard Scholars Program MasterCard Foundation November 2012 8 years
The Play Lab Project The Lego Foundation October 2015 3 years


Highlights:

  • Targeted 5,000 scholars have been reached, 507 of whom graduated in December 2017
  • Established 80 play labs in 6 districts with a total of 2,400 learners, employing over 120 trained play leaders

Paralympics-World-Champion-frontParalympics-World-ChampionPriya Cooper and Mohammad Mohasin with BRAC ADP girls. (Photo credit: BRAC)

Inspires female athletes to backstroke over challenges

Ms. Priya Naree Cooper, a nine time gold medalist disabled swimmer and recipient of the Order of Australia Medal, visited the capital’s Karail slum area yesterday (January 29) to engage with the youths of BRAC’s Adolescent Development Programme. Ms. Cooper arrived in Bangladesh to attend this year’s Australia Day event and planned a visit to Karail in order to learn more about BRAC’s work through its Adolescent Clubs (Kishori Kendro) and Neuro-Developmental Disability Centres.

Having achieved success despite suffering from cerebral palsy, Ms. Cooper has been highly vocal about getting more people with disabilities involved in sports. She was appointed Deputy Chair of the Disability Services Commission for Western Australia in 2017. The visit was jointly organised by BRAC and Australia’s Department of Foreign Trade and Affairs (DFAT) in Bangladesh. Mohammad Mohasin, Founder of Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh, Prafulla Chandra Barman, Programme Head of BRAC Education Programme, and Angela Naumann, First Secretary of DFAT Bangladesh, were present during Ms. Cooper’s visit.

“Witnessing these girls, who have been denied many privileges in life, embrace sports to make their dreams come true was very impressive. It fills me with joy to see that just like me, these young people are driven to achieve something big despite facing significant barriers. With proper guidance and support, they will be able to take charge of not only their future but also the future of Bangladesh,” Priya Cooper stated.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement was formed in 2010 between BRAC, the UK Government and the Australian Government based on the principles of supporting development goals for Bangladesh by being mutually accountable.

An-Interview-With-Tamara-Hasan-AbedAn-Interview-With-Tamara-Hasan-Abed-front

This article was originally posted in futurestartup.com on 17 January 2018.

“When I was 7 years old, my mother died while giving birth to my younger brother. Although I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of my loss, it changed my life forever in many ways,” says Tamara Hasan Abed. She continues, “I became very protective of my little brother and tried to take care of him in whatever small way possible for me at that age. From someone who used to receive care, I saw myself as a caregiver instead. As a result, I grew up a lot faster than many other children of my age. I became more responsible and self-reliant out of necessity.”

Tamara Hasan Abed is a Senior Director at BRAC where she heads all of BRAC’s 13 social enterprises including Aarong and sits on the board of Brac University and other Brac ventures and investments. A 70s child, Ms. Tamara has a fascinating story. She completed her schooling in Dhaka, studied and lived in India as a young-adult and then went to the London School of Economics and Political Science to study Economics. She worked in investment banking, pursued entrepreneurship that led to building her own business, studied, lived and worked in New York and witnessed “the growing intolerance everywhere” against Muslims after 9/11 – an event that eventually changed the trajectory of her life. It “made me feel the fragility of human life” and “I felt an intense urge to return home”. Then she returned to Bangladesh, started working at Aarong as a part-time gig, “my father asked me to help stabilize the organization and take care of some urgent needs. Initially, I volunteered part-time and did not take it as a possible career choice for me” but when she started working and came to see that Aarong works at the intersection of design, business, and social good, she “quickly fell in love with the work” and found her calling in it.

In this interview, we explore a wide range of topics ranging from Ms. Tamara’s early life and her journey to becoming who she is today, inner workings of Aarong as a social enterprise, the state and future of retail in Bangladesh and Aarong’s ambition going forward, what makes Aarong a social enterprise and different from other for-profit entities and what does it take to build a successful social enterprise, BRAC’s social enterprise efforts and her thought on management, teamwork, leadership and finally, why mindful presence is far more rewarding an experience and an effective antidote to our ever-growing anxieties of modern life and why we should actively resist the idea of planning too much about life and instead live life as it comes while trying to keep our center solid.

This is sublime, intellectually inspiring and an altogether brilliant read, I hope you enjoy  – Ruhul

Future Startup

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview and being generous with your time. Where did you grow up? Please tell us about your journey to what you are doing today.

Tamara Hasan Abed

I had a wonderful childhood in 1970s Dhaka. We lived in a house with a big garden and lots of fruit trees in the floor below my maternal grandparents. My early years were filled with people, fun, and laughter and provided me with some of the happiest memories of my life. It was a lively household where relatives and friends always dropped by and stayed.

My father had already started BRAC and my mother worked with him, a partnership which seemed effortlessly complementary and woven together in purpose, values, intellect and much more. It was early days at BRAC, with projects in Sulla (Sylhet) and subsequently Jamalpur and Manikganj and I would spend a few days every month living in these rural areas with my parents.

When I was 7 years old, my mother died while giving birth to my younger brother. Although I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of my loss, it changed my life forever in many ways. I became very protective of my little brother and tried to take care of him in whatever small way possible for me at that age. From someone who used to receive care, I saw myself as a caregiver instead. As a result, I grew up a lot faster than many other children of my age. I became more responsible and self-reliant out of necessity.

I did my schooling in Dhaka and after completing my O’levels, I went to Kodaikanal International School (Kodai) – a beautiful boarding school located on a hill station in South India- for my International Baccalaureate.

Kodai helped me to become independent and learn to navigate a bigger world than what I was familiar with, and exposed me to people from different cultures, backgrounds, and religions. It was enriching, to say the least, and I made some of my lifelong friends there.

After Kodai, I went to the London School of Economics and Political Science to study Economics, and returned to Bangladesh, after finishing my studies, to join Peregrine Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment bank, in corporate finance. It was the first foreign investment bank opening its branch in Bangladesh. Working in Peregrine was an incredible learning curve for me. We were a small team. There was a minimal hierarchy in the office, and I got the opportunity to work on projects with some of the largest and most successful corporates in Bangladesh at a very young age.

The corporate world in the mid-90s in Bangladesh, and even to this day, is largely a male-dominated one. I would go to meetings with clients who were all men – men who only looked at each other when they spoke and hardly made eye contact with me. It took me a few months to realize that if I had to get these men to acknowledge me, I would have to know my stuff inside out and always speak up. So I did. At first, there would be a look of surprise that the youngest person sitting on the table, and that too a woman, would want to speak. But once I did, and if I sounded like I knew what I was talking about, from then on I always got more respect and earned my seat at the table.

After two years at Peregrine, working 12 to 14-hours a day, I decided it was time to move on. I felt the urge to try something entrepreneurial and started a cafe business which is the Grassroots Café you now see at Aarong outlets. Starting a business at the age of 23, dealing with every aspect from quality to customer service, marketing, procurement, finance, product development, training and managing people, and feeling that my staff and their families relied on me and the success of my business, taught me more than I could have ever hoped to learn from a job at that age.

When my cafes were set up, I decided to work part-time in BRAC’s Urban Development Programme. My area of focus at BRAC was to develop groups of women entrepreneurs in Dhaka’s slums, with loans, mentoring, technical assistance and whatever else they needed (help with getting a trade license, or a gas connection, for example). I could not only bring my experience of starting my own business, but knew in which areas I could have benefitted with some support when I started and tried to mentor the women in my groups accordingly. What they needed most was encouragement and courage and mentorship. It was an exciting project and a most rewarding experience for me.

Then in late 1999, I decided to do an MBA. It was almost four and a half years since my graduation. I sold my café business and moved to New York to start an MBA at Columbia Business School, Columbia University. What an exhilarating experience living in New York was! I loved the city and the school. I loved it because of its diversity, its ability to stimulate intellectually, aesthetically, creatively, gastronomically, musically and in every other way possible. I soaked it all in. Some of my best friends from Kodai had also moved there, and my time at Columbia too provided some deep friendships.

I finished my MBA and joined Goldman Sachs in Mergers and Strategic Advisory. But a few months into my job at Goldman, 9/11 happened. That morning in New York, like any other Tuesday morning, I took the subway to work, which was five minutes’ walk from the World Trade Centre. But what transpired when I got out of the train station will forever be etched in my mind.

9/11 changed everything overnight in New York, and I dare say in the rest of the world, although we did not know it then. Overnight, hatred against Muslims reached an intolerable level. I did not face it personally, but I could feel the growing intolerance everywhere, in conversations I overheard in bathrooms, at the coffee stand, in corridors in the office, in the media, everywhere. Then the war in Afghanistan started. All of this made me reevaluate my life, my purpose, and my priorities. 9/11 made me feel the fragility of human life. It made me question what I was doing working at an investment bank living so far away from my family and loved ones. I felt an intense urge to return home.

In December 2001, I left Goldman and returned to Dhaka. I wanted to take a couple of months off to figure out what I would do next. Aarong was going through massive management restructuring at that time. My father asked me to help stabilize the organization and take care of some urgent needs. Initially, I volunteered part-time and did not take it as a possible career choice for me, because I couldn’t see then how my investment banking skills could be aligned to a social enterprise working with crafts.

Once I started, I quickly fell in love with the work. It had all the elements of what I could ask for in a job – it had the thrill and challenge of running a business, especially in retail; it was a hugely rewarding experience working and innovating with designers and craftspeople to make beautiful products; and best of all, it had a social purpose at its core, which warmed my soul. Aarong became my passion and I felt as if I had found my calling in life.

I joined Aarong as a General Manager of Design and Product Development in 2002. My role in BRAC has grown over the years – I now head all of BRAC’s 13 social enterprises (including Aarong) and sit on the board of Brac University and other Brac ventures and investments.

When I was 7 years old, my mother died while giving birth to my younger brother. Although I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of my loss, it changed my life forever in many ways. I became very protective of my little brother and tried to take care of him in whatever small way possible for me at that age. From someone who used to receive care, I saw myself as a caregiver instead. As a result, I grew up a lot faster than many other children of my age. I became more responsible and self-reliant out of necessity.

Future Startup

You have several decades of experience in investment banking, entrepreneurship, and social enterprise, what are the biggest lessons from all those years?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Firstly, having clarity of the organization’s vision and purpose is incredibly important. And one should then have a clear understanding of its strategy to achieve this vision and communicate it effectively with its employees. Decisions get taken at various levels in the organization and when people at different levels know what the organization wants to achieve and how these decisions are better aligned with organizational goals.

The best leaders and managers always develop people who work with them. I consider this a core responsibility of any supervisor – to actively create opportunities for people whom they supervise to enhance their skills and competencies so that they are able to grow into bigger roles. This keeps people motivated, it creates a culture of learning and continuous improvement, it helps with retaining your best people, it helps you to stay ahead of your competitors, and it ultimately benefits everyone. When you have people in management roles who feel threatened to develop people under them, it’s best to plan their exit.

Also, I cannot overstate the importance of having the right person in the right job, a fact we take relatively lightly in our culture. In the early days of my career, I made mistakes which cost me and the organization dearly. Despite knowing that some people were not fit for their role or had reached their level of incompetence, I could not take hard decisions to let them go since they had been in the organization for many years. I compromised on my judgment and tried to manage things with them and through them. But it seldom works out. It is critical that you make the decision about people who do not deliver without wasting too much time.

The institution is more important than any individual. Letting people go is the hardest thing you do as a leader but if you are committed towards your vision you have to make decisions that are tough and difficult.

Lastly, leadership can be a challenging journey, and often lonely and stressful. It requires resilience. It is important to take care of oneself in order to perform at your best and be there for others. By this, I mean taking care of one’s own needs as a human being. Be it the need for exercise, good sleep, healthy food habits, nurturing close relationships, entertainment, quiet time, reading, learning or whatever else an individual needs in order to be of sound mind and body, it is important to prioritize these things in order to be an effective leader.

The best leaders and managers always develop people who work with them. I consider this a core responsibility of any supervisor – to actively create opportunities for people whom they supervise to enhance their skills and competencies so that they are able to grow into bigger roles. This keeps people motivated, it creates a culture of learning and continuous improvement, it helps with retaining your best people, it helps you to stay ahead of your competitors, and it ultimately benefits everyone. When you have people in management roles who feel threatened to develop people under them, it’s best to plan their exit.

Future Startup

Please give us an overview of Aarong.

Tamara Hasan Abed

Aarong is BRAC’s flagship social enterprise, and Bangladesh’s most popular lifestyle retail brand. The word Aarong means ‘village fair’ in Bangla. It consists of 19 outlets (18 physical and one online store) and sells handcrafted products made by more than 65,000 artisans located all over the country. The Aarong team consists of over 3800 women and men who work together to make possible what you see and experience.

Aarong was born out of the need to create livelihoods for rural women in the mid-1970s. In 1976, BRAC organized groups of women in Manikganj and Jamalpur, trained them in sericulture and making handmade products such as block printed and embroidered cushion covers, bed covers, etc and started to supply these products to shops in Dhaka.

BRAC quickly realized that these shops paid for these products not when they were delivered, but in fact, once they were sold. It took months for these women to get paid for the goods. This is when BRAC decided to open its own retail outlet and the first Aarong shop opened on Mirpur Road in Dhanmondi in 1978. From the very first day, Aarong maintained the policy of paying its artisans and producers when products were delivered and Aarong took on the risk and responsibility of financing and selling the inventory.

Over the past few decades, Aarong has grown manifold and become a household name among urban consumers in Bangladesh. While we started with a few product lines initially, we now offer a vast range of products and are adding more categories regularly. Aarong has not only played a pioneering role in developing, promoting and protecting the rich heritage of Bangladeshi crafts such as nakshi kantha and jamdani, but has also left an indelible mark on the fashion industry in Bangladesh and what we now call Bangladeshi fashion.

Aarong is BRAC’s flagship social enterprise, and Bangladesh’s most popular lifestyle retail brand. The word Aarong means ‘village fair’ in Bangla. It consists of 19 outlets (18 physical and one online store) and sells handcrafted products made by more than 65,000 artisans located all over the country. The Aarong team consists of over 3800 women and men who work together to make possible what you see and experience.

Future Startup

How does Aarong collaborate with the artisans?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Aarong works with artisans in two ways. The first is through Ayesha Abed Foundation (“AAF”), which is a hub and spoke model with a main production center linked to many small subcentres. The main center receives orders from Aarong and prepares and distributes the order and raw materials to the artisans in the subcentre who mainly do the embroidery work.

The main center not only supervises the subcentres but does all the preparatory and finishing work, that is, tailoring, dyeing and printing, washing, ironing and quality control. AAF has 13 main centers linked to more than 600 subcentres. In 2018, we plan to establish two more main centers which will have many more subcentres under them and provide employment to 1500 more artisans.

AAF’s artisans have access to BRAC’s holistic development interventions such as microfinance, maternal health care, hygiene awareness, subsidized latrines, human rights awareness and legal aid, day care facilities for their children, etc, apart from their daily wages.

We also work with independent master craftsmen and small and micro entrepreneurs from different parts of the country whom we call independent producers. They directly take orders from Aarong and produce goods in their own workshop or cottage industry and deliver it to us. They employ groups of artisans under them. We audit our independent producers on 39 metrics under what we call our Social Compliance Audit, to make sure that our producers look after the artisans who work under them. We have over 800 independent producers working with us.

Future Startup

You maintain a contractual relationship with the majority of your artisans. You compete with private labels and earn profits. As a social enterprise, how are you different from other for-profit entities?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Our mission and purpose is different from for-profit enterprises. Our raison d’etre is to provide livelihoods for women and artisans and create market linkages for them, thereby contributing to the alleviation of poverty and financial empowerment.

Also, as a social enterprise of BRAC, we do not have any shareholders and the surpluses we make goes to fund BRAC’s development interventions, such as schools and programmes for the extremely poor.

Although we maintain a contractual relationship with our artisans and producers, our artisans not only receive holistic development support from Brac as I mentioned earlier, they also receive annual eye and health checkup, health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. Our producers receive collateral-free loans from Aarong to conduct and expand their business.

Most importantly, we try to ensure that our artisans and producers receive orders from us regularly throughout the year. Since we are vertically integrated in terms of production and retail, we can forecast sales and plan our production a year in advance. For example, Eid is one of the biggest selling seasons in our country. Instead of putting pressure on our producers and artisans in one month, we manage the production of Eid throughout the year in order to ensure regular work for our artisans, although it is not necessarily financially optimal for Aarong to produce and hold Eid inventories throughout the year.

The key difference is that, unlike other for-profit enterprises, our decisions are not based on profit maximization. Let me give you another example. Most for-profit retailers would think about stocking the most profitable and fastest selling products on their shelves. They would try to maximize returns from each square foot of retail space. As a social enterprise, this is not the most important consideration for Aarong. For example, we dedicate a lot of space to clay, cane and bamboo products which are low in value but take up a lot of retail space. We think of the best way to support all categories of artisans who are within our fold.

Similarly, the Ayesha Abed Foundation’s production centers are spread out all across the country instead of in a big factory near Dhaka. This is an administrative nightmare but we do this to take work to the artisans where they live so that they are able to access employment opportunities from where they are based, rather than having to migrate to big cities. These decisions are taken to maximize our social goals.

Our mission and purpose is different from for-profit enterprises. Our raison d’etre is to provide livelihoods for women and artisans and create market linkages for them, thereby contributing to the alleviation of poverty and financial empowerment. Also, as a social enterprise of BRAC, we do not have any shareholders and the surpluses we make goes to fund BRAC’s development interventions, such as schools and programmes for the extreme poor.

Future Startup

You joined Aarong in 2002. How much has Aarong evolved over the past years?

Tamara Hasan Abed

One significant change is of course scale. We have grown significantly in almost every metric, in terms of volume and value, the number of outlets as well as the average standard of living of our producers and artisans.

We have introduced technology in almost all aspects of the operation starting from design to sales to management and customer feedback and engagement. Before our designers used to draw on paper but now designs are done digitally.

We have launched a host of new product lines, categories, and brands, including Taaga and Herstory. In 2018, we will be launching Taaga Man, a brand exclusively for young men. Design and experience of our outlets have improved. We have introduced customer loyalty programs. We have also launched our eCommerce platform where you can buy Aarong products and get it delivered to your doorstep.

We have a long way to go but we have made notable progress over the last few years.

While we remain true to our purpose, we realized early on that in order to achieve our vision we have to succeed commercially, and that this success has to be sustainable rather than a flash in the pan. Aarong is going to celebrate 40 years of its phenomenally successful existence in 2018 and to my knowledge, it is the largest and most successful craft organization globally. This is a source of enormous pride for us Bangladeshis.

Future Startup

Aarong is a very successful organization. It is the biggest lifestyle store in the country and growing very fast. Compared to any other social enterprise of its kind in the country, Aarong is an anomaly and has been doing exceedingly well. How did that happen? What has contributed to this success?

Tamara Hasan Abed

The ambition of Aarong from the very beginning was to become a mainstream brand rather than a small craft outlet. We always wanted to compete with every other brand on a level playing field. We never tried to appeal to our consumers as an altruistic organization: we are doing social good so buy our products. Therefore, although internally we hold ourselves responsible for the wellbeing of our artisans, we never try to ‘sell’ this aspect of the brand. That is why in our marketing and communications, we never communicate that perspective. We want our customers to buy our products because they love it and want it, not because they want to do a social service, although by buying from us they are contributing to our society even if they may not know it.

This philosophy of the brand pushes us to work hard and keeps us on our toes. Instead of looking for easier ways, we put our efforts in innovating on product design and work hard to provide the best-in-class quality and shopping experience for our customers. This mentality has helped us scale our impact over the years.

While we remain true to our purpose, we realized early on that in order to achieve our vision we have to succeed commercially, and that this success has to be sustainable rather than a flash in the pan.

Aarong is going to celebrate 40 years of its phenomenally successful existence in 2018 and to my knowledge, it is the largest and most successful craft organisation globally. This is a source of enormous pride for us Bangladeshis.

Future Startup

You have recently launched an eCommerce operation, what are the plans for eCommerce?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Our e-commerce store currently delivers products anywhere in Bangladesh. In 2018, we will be launching our global e-commerce platform to cater to customers living abroad. Aarong has a strong following among NRBs. We regularly receive requests from our customers regarding international delivery.

Moreover, we are seeing a convergence of retail and ecommerce in many markets that offer superior customer experience. We want to build a seamless experience for our customers between our physical and online store.

The industry will be flourish in the next 10 years. If you look at the important indicators, our disposable income is growing. We are seeing the rise of a stable middle class with greater purchasing power and rapid urbanization across the country. The fashion savvy youth population is looking for options to suit their daily needs. All of these will contribute to the growth of retail.

Future Startup

While there is a growing concern about the future of retail, many people predict that great retail experience will survive and even thrive. Aarong’s experience is better than many other retailers in Dhaka. Having said that, how do you design and ensure a great retail experience?

Tamara Hasan Abed

In my opinion, retail is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Like any other experience, you have to pay attention to every detail.

We try to be meticulous about everything from the design of our stores to how customers are going to experience and buy our products to the training of our sales associates to visual merchandising and ambiance. Also, customers now not only experience Aarong in our physical and online store, they also engage with us on social media. We try to keep the excitement going in all of our touch points.

That said, I think we have a long way to go. We have a lot of room for improvement.

Future Startup

What do you think about the future of retail in Bangladesh? What are the major challenges for the industry?

Tamara Hasan Abed

The industry will be flourish in the next 10 years. If you look at the important indicators, our disposable income is growing. We are seeing the rise of a stable middle class with greater purchasing power and rapid urbanization across the country. The fashion savvy youth population is looking for options to suit their daily needs. All of these will contribute to the growth of retail.

However, there are challenges as well. Traffic jam remains a key challenge and is now becoming a problem even in cities other than Dhaka. Real estate remains a formidable challenge. The problem is not only finding the right space for rent that makes sense for the brand, but also finding adequate parking space.

Moreover, finding the quality human resource for things like retail management, visual merchandising, etc is difficult. The competition will, of course, continue to grow and foreign brands will eventually enter the market. We will always have to stay ahead of the curve in order to thrive.

Future Startup

What are the challenges for Aarong now? If you look down the line 5-6 years, what challenges do you anticipate?

Tamara Hasan Abed

One of the challenges will be competing with the brands that have a high degree of mechanization. They have readymade garments at the backend and are moving towards computerized production systems and use of technology in many aspects of the value addition. We are a crafts brand. Our products are made by artisans and mostly handmade. While this offers us a unique advantage, it is also a challenge. Our production method is expensive and comparatively less efficient. This is a challenge we will have to address in the coming years – how we can improve our efficiency and cost while staying true to our core.

Similarly, as I said, this is also an advantage that will prove incredibly valuable as we go. No one has done what we have done. No one has the kind of backward linkage of craftsmanship that we have. It is what differentiates us from the rest. Moreover, we are already seeing a growing popularity of handcrafted products. In advanced markets, handcrafted products are a luxury. If we can do things right, our products and brand will thrive.

The most critical challenge for us now is finding great people who can work at the intersection of social good and business. If you are a profit-driven organization, a regular business graduate suffices for you, and for pure non-profit, it is also easy to find a right fit. But for us, we need people who are good at doing business as well as understands and are excited about the impact side of our work. An ideal candidate for us is someone who is business savvy and equally passionate about social impact, which is quite hard to find.

Another challenge comes from a gradual decline of craft as a profession. Our business heavily depends on the craftsmen and women who make our products. Unfortunately, interest in the craft profession is in decline among the children of artisans. They are going for higher education and are not necessarily interested in pursuing a career in crafts.

The challenge for us will be keeping craftsmanship and craft alive and making it a viable profession. If we can continue to ensure a decent earning and sustainable livelihood through crafts, this should not prove to be an insurmountable challenge.

One of the challenges will be competing with the brands that have a high degree of mechanization. They have readymade garments at the backend and are moving towards computerized production systems and use of technology in many aspects of the value addition. We are a crafts brand. Our products are made by artisans and mostly handmade. While this offers us a unique advantage, it is also a challenge. Our production method is expensive and comparatively less efficient. This is a challenge we will have to address in the coming years – how we can improve our efficiency and cost while staying true to our core.

Future Startup

Please tell us about the culture at Aarong. How do people work and collaborate at Aarong?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Being a social enterprise, we enjoy certain advantages. While finding great people who can work at the intersection of social good and business is hard for us, but when we do find them, they tend to become very passionate about their work.

Since Aarong is not owned by any individual, everyone in the team feels and sees that their efforts are making a difference in the lives of others who are less privileged. This feeds their soul. Consequently, everyone in the team works with a sense of ownership. This results in dedication, commitment, and better performance.

We maintain a very open culture. Teams are emotionally connected and work like a big family. Everything you see about Aarong is the result of teamwork. We put enormous importance on working as a team. We devise a strategic plan every three years and also have an annual plan. Each and every part of our operations works to deliver on that plan. If you are not working as a team, this would be extremely difficult to execute.

One of our core values is integrity. We promote transparency and accountability in how we work as a team as well as how we operate as an organization. We work hard to meet the claims that we make.

Also, you can see that we are constantly evolving. We are improving on designs. We are adding new product lines. We are telling our stories in a new way. We encourage our people to be innovative, to take initiative and be independent in how they think and operate.

As I said earlier, we don’t necessarily talk a lot about our impact as a brand. That said, we do make a huge difference in the lives of our artisans. Also, the profit we make goes back to development work. My colleagues see that this organization does a lot of good work but seldom publicizes it. They feel happy about making a difference in people’s lives and about promoting the best of Bangladesh to the world. I believe people who work at Aarong enjoy greater job satisfaction.

We maintain a very open culture. Teams are emotionally connected and work like a big family. Everything you see about Aarong is the result of teamwork. We put enormous importance on working as a team. We devise a strategic plan every three years and also have an annual plan. Each and every part of our operations works to deliver on that plan. If you are not working as a team, this would be extremely difficult to execute.

Future Startup

You look after BRAC enterprises, can you give us an overview of BRAC’s social enterprise efforts? What is the overall strategy and focus going forward?

Tamara Hasan Abed

BRAC’s social enterprises fulfill two broad purposes. Firstly, it addresses market failures in creating and promoting livelihoods for poor people, in order to increase their incomes and the productivity of their assets. Secondly, it helps the future sustainability of the broader organization.

Philosophically, BRAC sees people at the bottom of the pyramid as producers instead of mere consumers, which is different from how many commercial brands view them. We introduce new economic activities for this segment, build their capacity and provide all necessary support so that they can be successful in ensuring a decent living for themselves and their families.

The organizational philosophy is that everybody has potential but because of existing systems and power structures, they are unable to realize this potential. Our goal is to give people the tools to shape their own destiny.

BRAC has 13 social enterprises in areas like crafts, dairy, artificial insemination to improve the breed and productivity of cattle, seed and agro for high yielding and hybrid varieties of seed, chicken, sericulture, fisheries, nursery, recycled and handmade paper, sanitary napkin for rural women, printing pack among others. We also have an enterprise that sells low price iodized salt and a cold storage for potato farmers.

BRAC is now looking at new social enterprises in areas such as education, health, skills, etc as a means to have a sustainable intervention in priority areas for national development which is not dependent on foreign grants.

For example, we have been working in providing free education for many years at the primary level. BRAC runs thousands of free schools across the country for students who have dropped out of the mainstream system with phenomenal success.

We are globally recognized for running a large low-cost school system with excellent learning outcomes. However, now that access to primary education is more or less ensured for all children of school-going age in Bangladesh, there is a growing need and demand to focus on quality and relevant education.

At the same time, foreign grants for education is reducing as Bangladesh approaches middle-income status and people’s ability to pay for these services has also increased. BRAC is now looking to harness its years of experience and expertise in running schools to develop fee-paying schools which will deliver better quality education than competitors in rural, semi-urban and urban areas to children of low-income households. So we have started new models of fee-paying schools both at the primary and secondary level. We will, of course, continue to serve the extreme poor through targeted strategies for them which will remain free.

BRAC started its first social enterprise 40 years ago, much before it became a buzzword. It will remain a key part of the organization’s strategy going forward.

BRAC has 13 social enterprises in areas like crafts, dairy, artificial insemination to improve the breed and productivity of cattle, seed and agro for high yielding and hybrid varieties of seed, chicken, sericulture, fisheries, nursery, recycled and handmade paper, sanitary napkin for rural women, printing pack among others. We also have an enterprise that sells low price iodized salt and a cold storage for potato farmers. BRAC is now looking at new social enterprises in areas such as education, health, skills, etc as a means to have a sustainable intervention in priority areas for national development which is not dependent on foreign grants.

Future Startup

What does it take to build a successful social enterprise?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Identifying a problem. Designing the right intervention to address that problem. And ultimately, people. Finding competent people with the right mindset will significantly improve your chance of success as a social enterprise.

Other than your social mission, a social enterprise is no different from any other business. You need the same set of skills in running a business. On top of that, you need people with the motivation to make social impact. The idea is that they should be able to take decisions which will maximize social impact while ensuring the enterprise’s sustainability.

Thinking in just financial terms is actually easier. You just need to estimate what is going to maximize your profit. But in a social enterprise, you have to balance between making a profit and making an impact on the people’s lives whom you are trying to serve.

Future Startup

What is your management philosophy?

Tamara Hasan Abed

I start with developing an understanding of the person or team I’m working with and my management philosophy depends on that. For instance, when I’m dealing with someone who is capable, I give her/him a lot of freedom. When I manage someone who is not as capable, I maintain a greater degree of guidance, supervision and follow-up. Once I understand people’s strengths and weaknesses, I know what to check and follow up on, how to manage them and where to develop them. Understanding each member of your team is of critical importance. One must understand what motivates and inspires them as well as their fears and anxieties in order to forge effective collaboration, teamwork, and ultimately, execution.

I take the growth of people who work under me very seriously. I make sure they grow in terms of competence, skills, maturity of decision making, and dealing with challenges and difficult situations. I encourage people to invest in themselves and try to make sure people grow.

I am also a very straightforward person and give very direct and radical feedback. People who work with me know that. I also appreciate people who give radical feedback to me. Feedback is incredibly important for progress. Honest feedback can be a huge impetus for personal and organizational development. That said, many people don’t take it so easily. They become afraid and sometimes their performance suffers. But people who work with me for some time understand the value of honest feedback. In fact, the reason I offer radical feedback is that I care deeply about the people I work with and the organization, and I want both to continuously improve and evolve.

I also try to ensure that people understand that I care about them and their well-being. It is not just about how they do at work, it is about how they do at home, how their families are doing, how can the organization help them and ultimately how can I as a manager help them in solving their problems. When people understand that I care for them, they take my radical feedback more easily.

I start with developing an understanding of the person or team I’m working with and my management philosophy depends on that. For instance, when I’m dealing with someone who is capable, I give her/him a lot of freedom. When I manage someone who is not as capable, I maintain a greater degree of guidance, supervision, and follow-up. Once I understand people’s strengths and weaknesses, I know what to check and follow up on, how to manage them and where to develop them. Understanding each member of your team is of critical importance. One must understand what motivates and inspires them as well as their fears and anxieties in order to forge effective collaboration, teamwork, and ultimately, execution.

Future Startup

Do you feel self-doubts? How do you deal with self-doubt?

Tamara Hasan Abed

Of course. I question myself a lot. As I have said, leadership is a lonely job; it comes with the territory. Sometimes it is hard to know whether you are taking the right decision.

Although I don’t have an exact strategy to deal with my self-doubt, I think it is good to have a level of self-doubt because it keeps you humble and it keeps you on your toes. I usually talk to people and take their perspective when I feel unsure about something. I read and spend time in learning. Of course, I do the necessary analysis. And ultimately, I rely a lot on my gut and intuition.

The problem often gets complicated when you don’t address something that demands your attention. When you escape from something. It is like if you don’t clean your desk regularly it becomes unusable after a while or requires significant effort to clean and organize it. Likewise, you have to acknowledge your feelings and clean up your mental attic regularly. Otherwise, it will just pile up and one day it will take a bigger toll on you than necessary.

Future Startup

How do you deal with stress and challenges that come with your profession?

Tamara Hasan Abed

A good night’s sleep or a good book always helps. The other thing that really helps me is yoga and meditation. When I feel uncomfortable about something, I try to give it some time and thought before dealing with it. When I feel comfortable, I try to identify the source of my stress. If there is anything that needs to be addressed, something that I ignored or avoided, I try to attend to it.

The problem often gets complicated when you don’t address something that demands your attention. When you escape from something. It is like if you don’t clean your desk regularly it becomes unusable after a while or requires significant effort to clean and organize it. Likewise, you have to acknowledge your feelings and clean up your mental attic regularly. Otherwise, it will just pile up and one day it will take a bigger toll on you than necessary.

An-Interview-With-Tamara-Hasan-Abed-2

Future Startup

How do you think about life?

Tamara Hasan Abed

My life has been full of surprises. It has always handed me things that I was least expecting. As I said, I lost my mother at the age of 7- an event that completely changed my life. After my MBA, when I just started working at Goldman Sachs, 9/11 happened and my life changed again. At the age of 38, I became single. And then at 40, I found my husband and at 42, had my first child. I would say that life has given me enough surprises and changes. And my life has anything but followed a conventional path. But in almost all the instances, I ended up in a better place than before.

After 9/11, I left my lucrative job at Goldman Sachs and found my passion in life with Aarong. There is a silver lining in every dark cloud. We just can’t see it at that moment. Life is about endurance.

I have learned from life that there is little value in planning, rather we should try to live life in the moment. Mindful presence is far more rewarding an experience and an effective antidote to our ever-growing anxieties of modern life. I try not to plan too much but instead live life as it comes while trying to keep my center solid.

At this stage of my life, I know what is important to me. I try to see the bigger picture so that I don’t stress out about what I have done and what I should have done. I actively try not to take life too seriously.

One advice I would give to people starting out is to put in the effort to do things well rather than cut corners and aim to just get by. When people learn and do things for the sake of pleasing someone else, getting recognition, or just getting the job done instead of satisfying their own curiosity, understanding something properly or setting high professional standards for themselves, they remain ‘half-baked’ when they become more experienced and it shows when they rise higher. Ultimately, it catches up with them.

Future Startup

What books have you been reading lately?

Tamara Hasan Abed

The last book I read was Option B written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. This was her second book. I read her first book Lean In and was equally fascinated by her insights and perspective. While reading Option B, I was going through a personal tragedy. One of my aunts, with whom I was very close, died. This book helped me to go through the difficult time as well as be there for others who were close to her.

Future Startup

What advice would you give to people who are just starting out?

Tamara Hasan Abed

One advice I would give to people starting out is to put in the effort to do things well rather than cut corners and aim to just get by. When people learn and do things for the sake of pleasing someone else, getting recognition, or just getting the job done instead of satisfying their own curiosity, understanding something properly or setting high professional standards for themselves, they remain ‘half-baked’ when they become more experienced and it shows when they rise higher. Ultimately, it catches up with them.

Also, if you have a strong moral compass, it will give you inner confidence and sound sleep, no matter what comes your way.

I have learned from life that there is little value in planning, rather we should try to live life in the moment. Mindful presence is far more rewarding an experience and an effective antidote to our ever-growing anxieties of modern life. I try not to plan too much but instead live life as it comes while trying to keep my center solid.

 

Interview by Ruhul Kader, transcription by Md. Tashnim and photo by Aarong

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Sir Fazle stresses quality improvement of basic services and lasting partnerships

Bangladesh will have to shift its focus from providing basic services only to ensuring improved quality of those services and work to forge stronger partnerships between the government, non-governmental development actors and private sector to fulfil the targets of its 7th five-year plan and the sustainable development goals.

BRAC founder-chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed made these observations while speaking at the Bangladesh Development Forum 2018. The two-day high profile event organised by the Economic Relations Division (ERD) under the finance ministry concluded today on Thursday in the capital.

Sir Fazle spoke at the opening plenary session titled ‘Implementation of the 7th FYP and the SDGs: Challenges and way forward’ on Wednesday (17 January 2018). The session was also addressed, among others, by BRAC’s executive director Dr Muhammad Musa, its senior director for strategy, communications and empowerment Asif Saleh, and director of Advocacy for Social Change department KAM Morshed.

Stressing three areas of priority in implementing the government’s 7th five-year plan and achieve the SDG targets, Sir Fazle pointed out that eradicating extreme poverty, improving the quality of basic services and enhancing the quality of education will be the vital factors in this regard.

‘We must prioritise the eradication of extreme poverty in Bangladesh. While one cannot deny the tremendous progress made, there are still 20 million people in our country who live in the direst forms of poverty and deprivation. The government has taken many initiatives, including the Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar project, to help people in extreme poverty. BRAC pioneered the ultra-poor graduation approach, which has lifted millions of people out of ultra-poverty in Bangladesh, and has been replicated in over 50 countries globally,’ he said, underscoring the need for all relevant actors to join hands to eradicate extreme poverty from Bangladesh.

Sir Fazle also called on relevant actors to work together to reduce maternal mortality. ‘A recent report indicates that some of the gains achieved during the MDG era have now stalled. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has remained the same at 196 per 100,000 live births between 2010 and 2016. We have to dig into the reasons why such an impressive trajectory of improvements has stopped,’ he said.

Collaboration of all relevant actors is a must for quality improvement of education at all levels, he noted, further commenting on the importance of teachers’ capacity building at the pre-primary level. ‘In order to cater to the needs of young children, the teachers need special orientation, training and support. They need to be more like facilitators, the classrooms need to look very different and the children need to learn through play.’

Sir Fazle also observed that the government in its endeavour to reform public sector institutions should involve the civil society as well. ‘The government alone cannot address the challenge of reforming its public institutions. It will require credible partners, and here too the civil society organisations can play an extremely constructive and positive role’ he said.

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Simi Kamal, the senior group head for grants and operations, and Mohammed Ashraf, the programme management specialist for the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) paid a two-day visit to PPAF funded BRAC’s programme for poverty reduction (PPR) office at Hub Chowki, Lasbela.

PPR is specially designed to meet the needs of people in vulnerable and marginalised communities, who are deprived of social and economic opportunities. An integrated model is used to provide a holistic environment conducive to the socio-economic uplift of people living in extreme poverty. The objective is poverty reduction through the creation of sustainable conditions of social and economic development, including increased income and production capacity and social support. As of December 2017, 221 community organisations have been established, 321 clients received asset transfers, and 564 community members received vocational and technical training. 28 community schools have been established and 37 government schools received rehabilitation support. Two health centres were established and 106 women-friendly latrines have been constructed. 39 clean drinking water schemes and 33 solar lighting schemes have been completed.

The visit was an extensive attempt to monitor gender parity and women’s participation in the programme. On the first day, Kamal and Ashraf were briefed about PPR operations and the progress of the programme by the programme manager, Changiz Baloch, communications coordinator, Zilay Huma, and programme lead, Kashif Ashraf.

The visitors were taken on a field visit the next day. The first stop was BRAC’s community school in Ibrahim Sasoli Goth in Union Council Sakran, Lasbela. Kamal discussed academic matters with the head teacher, and had a chit chat with the students. She met with members of the school management committee and the students’ parents. She checked all the facilities supplied by BRAC in Pakistan to the community school, such as washrooms, fans, lights and teaching material.

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The next stop was a community health centre at Hashim Wahora Goth. The visitors met with the staff and discussed in length the operations and medical procedures.

Next was the Local Support Organization (LSO) Band Murad office at Mubarak Goth. The president of the LSO, Rehmat Ullah, and vice president, Saliha Bibi, welcomed the PPAF team. LSO members gave a detailed presentation about their community work and their linkages with government institutions. The PPAF team was introduced to all the committee and subcommittee members of the LSO. Kamal interacted with the procurement, education, health and audit committees of the LSO. She was very concerned about women’s representation and participation in the community development work and was delighted to see Saliha Bibi and other extraordinary women speaking for themselves and breaking the glass ceiling. She even drove around in an autorickshaw to encourage women to work outside their homes. She visited different community infrastructure schemes in Mubarak and Ibrahim Sasooli Goth and met clients.

The visit came to an end with a dinner and an informal meeting where Kamal shared her views about BRAC Pakistan’s community development work. She was surprised and contented to see vibrant and meaningful women’s participation in the community. She appreciated BRAC Pakistan staff at Lasbela for their outstanding performance in community mobilisation. She wished BRAC in Pakistan well in its future endeavours.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018 00:00

Migration media award 2017

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অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭

বর্তমানে প্রায় ২৪৪ মিলিয়ন জনগোষ্ঠী (বিশ্ব জনসংখ্যার ৩.৩%) কাজের বা অন্য কোন প্রয়োজনে নিজ দেশে না বাস করে অন্যত্র বাস করছেন এবং উভয় দেশেরই অর্থনৈতিক, সামাজিক এবং সাংস্কৃতিক উন্নয়নে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অবদান রেখে চলেছেন। ২০১৬ সালে ৫৭৫ বিলিয়ন ইউএস ডলার রেমিটেন্স হিসেবে বিশ্বের বিভিন্ন দেশ আয় করছে। বিশ্বের অন্যান্য দেশের মতো বাংলাদেশের উন্নয়ন এবং সমৃদ্ধির ক্ষেত্রে অভিবাসন খাতটি অত্যন্ত গুরুত্বপূর্ণ। বাংলাদেশ ২০১৬-১৭ অর্থবছরে শুধু এই খাত থেকে ১২.৭ বিলিয়ন ইউএস ডলার আয় করেছে।

অভিবাসন বাংলাদেশের জন্য একটি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ সেক্টর। ২০১৭ সালে বাংলাদেশে থেকে মোট ১০ লাখ শ্রমিক বিদেশ গিয়েছেন যার মধ্যে ১ লাখ ২১ হাজার নারী শ্রমিক রয়েছেন। বাংলাদেশকে মধ্যম আয়ের দেশে পরিণত করার পেছনে এটি অত্যন্ত গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ভূমিকা পালন করেছে। কিন্তু প্রয়োজনীয় তথ্যের অভাবে অভিবাসনপ্রত্যাশীরা প্রতিনিয়ত প্রতারণার সম্মুখীন হচ্ছেন। ব্র্যাক বিশ্বের অন্যতম উন্নয়ন সংস্থা। ২০০৬ সাল থেকে বাংলাদেশের অভিবাসনপ্রবন জেলাসমূহে নিরাপদ অভিবাসন নিশ্চিত, মানবপাচার প্রতিরোধ এবং সচেতনতা সৃষ্টির লক্ষ্যে মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম, ব্র্যাক কাজ করে যাচ্ছে। প্রতিবছর প্রবাস থেকে অনেক মানুষ ফেরত আসে। কিন্তু তাদের বিষয়টি একেবারে উপেক্ষিত থেকে যায়। বিষয়টির গুরুত্ব বিবেচনা করে সম্প্রতি ইউরোপীয়ান ইউনিয়নের অর্থায়নে ও আন্তর্জাতিক অভিবাসন সংস্থা (আইওএম) এর সহযোগিতায় মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম, ব্র্যাক ২০১৭ সালে ১০টি জেলায় তার কর্মপরিধি বিস্তৃত করেছে। মাঠ পর্যায়ে মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম ইউরোপ ফেরত অভিবাসীদের চিহ্নিতকরণ এবং চাহিদা নিরুপন করে কাউন্সিলিং, প্রয়োজনীয় পরামর্শ ও সেবা প্রাপ্তি বিষয়ে কাজ করে যাচ্ছে। এছাড়াও মাঠ পর্যায়ে মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম নিরাপদ অভিবাসন প্রক্রিয়া, বিদেশ থেকে পাঠানো টাকার সঠিক ব্যবহার, সামাজিক ও আইনি সহয়তা প্রদান, মানবপাচার প্রতিরোধ এবং প্রশিক্ষণ ও সালিশের মাধ্যমে অভিবাসীদের অধিকার রক্ষায় কাজ করে যাচ্ছে।

অভিবাসী শ্রমিক ও তাদের পরিবারের অধিকার রক্ষায় গণমাধ্যমের সরব ভূমিকা সর্বদায় অনস্বীকার্য ও প্রশংসনীয়। অভিবাসন বিষয়ক সাংবাদিকতাকে আনুষ্ঠানিকভাবে স্বীকৃতি দেওয়ার কাজটি দেশে প্রথমবারের মত শুরু করে ব্র্যাক। বস্তুনিষ্ঠ সাংবাদিকতাকে স্বীকৃতি জানাতে ব্র্যাক মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম প্রথম ২০১৫ সালে অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড প্রদান শুরু করে এবং তা এখনও চলমান আছে। এরই ধারাবাহিকতায় তৃতীয়বারের মত ব্র্যাক ‘অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭’ প্রদানের উদ্যোগ নিয়েছে।

যে সব বিভাগে মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭ প্রদান করা হবে

(ক) সংবাদপত্র (জাতীয়): অভিবাসন বিষয়ে দেশে ও বিদেশে যে কোনো জাতীয় সংবাদপত্রে প্রকাশিত সেরা অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদনের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

(খ) সংবাদপত্র (আঞ্চলিক): অভিবাসন বিষয়ে বাংলাদেশের যে কোনো আঞ্চলিক সংবাদপত্রে প্রকাশিত সেরা অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদনের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

(গ) টেলিভিশন: অভিবাসন বিষয়ে দেশে ও বিদেশে যে কোনো টেলিভিশনে সম্প্রচারিত অনুষ্ঠান/প্রতিবেদনের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

(ঘ) রেডিও: অভিবাসন বিষয়ে দেশে ও বিদেশে যে কোনো বেতারে সম্প্রচারিত অনুষ্ঠান/প্রতিবেদনের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

(ঙ) অনলাইন: অভিবাসন বিষয়ে দেশে ও বিদেশে যে কোনো অনলাইন পত্রিকায় প্রকাশিত সেরা অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদনের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

(চ) আলোকচিত্র: অভিবাসন বিষয়ে দেশে ও বিদেশে যে কোনো গণমাধ্যমে প্রকাশিত আলোকচিত্রের স্বীকৃতিস্বরূপ অ্যাওয়ার্ডটি প্রদান করা হবে।

যোগ্যতা

সংবাদপত্র, বেতার, টেলিভিশন অথবা অনলাইন গণমাধ্যমে দেশে অথবা প্রবাসে কর্মরত যে কোনো বাংলাদেশি সাংবাদিক ও গণমাধ্যম ব্যক্তিত্ব আবেদন করতে পারবেন। তবে প্রতিবেদন ও আলোকচিত্র প্রদানের ক্ষেত্রে অবশ্যই স্বত্বাধিকার নিশ্চিত করতে হবে।

মূল্যায়ন মানদণ্ড

আপনার প্রকাশিত অথবা সম্প্রচারিত প্রতিবেদন ও আলোকচিত্রটি যদি অভিবাসন খাত, অভিবাসী ও শরনার্থী কিংবা তাদের পরিবারের অধিকার রক্ষায় গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ভূমিকা রাখে।

আবেদন করার নিয়ম

১. শুধুমাত্র বাংলাদেশি সাংবাদিক এই অ্যাওয়ার্ডের জন্য আবেদন করতে পারবেন।

২. আবেদনকারীকে জীবনবৃত্তান্ত অবশ্যই যথাযথ ফরমেটের মাধ্যমে পাঠাতে হবে। প্রয়োজনীয় কাগজপত্র হিসেবে প্রতিবেদন, আলোকচিত্র যে মাধ্যমে প্রকাশিত হয়েছে তার বিবরণ জমা দিতে হবে।

৩. আবেদনকারী তাঁর কর্মজীবন সম্পর্কে অর্ধপাতার ভিতর সংক্ষিপ্ত বিবরণ (বাংলা এবং ইংরেজী উভয় ভাষায়) সংযুক্ত করে পাঠাবেন এবং সংযুক্ত ফরমেটটি পূরণ করে আবেদনপত্রের সাথে পাঠাতে হবে।

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭ এর সময়সীমা

আবেদনকৃত প্রতিবেদন ও আলোকচিত্র অবশ্যই অভিবাসন সম্পর্কিত হতে হবে এবং ০১লা জানুয়ারি ২০১৭ হতে ৩১ ডিসেম্বর ২০১৭-র মধ্যে গণমাধ্যমে প্রকাশিত ও প্রচারিত হতে হবে।

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭-র যেসব ক্যাটিগরি/বিভাগকে বিবেচনায় আনা হবে

১. প্রিন্ট মিডিয়ার ক্ষেত্রে (জাতীয় ও স্থানীয় উভয় ক্ষেত্রে) পত্রিকায় প্রকাশিত মূল কপি প্রেরণ করতে হবে। পত্রিকা এবং প্রতিবেদকের নাম এবং তারিখ অবশ্যই দৃশ্যমান হতে হবে। হার্ড কপি ছাড়াও সফট কপি সংযুক্তি হিসেবে সিডি-র মাধ্যমে জমা দিতে হবে।

২. বেতারের এন্ট্রির ক্ষেত্রে এএম এবং এফএম বেতারতরঙ্গে সম্প্রচারিত অনুষ্ঠান অথবা প্রতিবেদন হতে হবে। এর সঙ্গে সংক্ষিপ্ত/সম্পূর্ণ স্ক্রিপ্ট যদি বর্তমান থাকে তবে জমা দিতে হবে। নিয়মিত বেতারে সম্প্রচারিত অনুষ্ঠানের অন্তত পরপর তিনটি অনুষ্ঠানের কপি জমা দিতে হবে।

৩. টিভি এন্ট্রির ক্ষেত্রে অবশ্যই সংক্ষিপ্ত এবং পূর্ণ স্ক্রিপ্ট (যদি বর্তমান থাকে) সহকারে ডিভিডি-র মাধ্যমে জমা দিতে হবে।

৪. অনলাইন মিডিয়া এন্ট্রির ক্ষেত্রে শুধুমাত্র প্রতিবেদনটি ওয়েবসাইটে প্রকাশিত হতে হবে এবং অনলাইনে যেভাবে প্রচারিত হয়েছে সেভাবে সংশ্লিষ্ট প্রতিবেদনটি স্ক্রিনশটসহ জমা দিতে হবে। এছাড়াও ইউআরএলসহ সফট কপি সিডি তে জমা দিতে হবে।

৫. আলোকচিত্র এন্ট্রির ক্ষেত্রে আলোকচিত্রটি কোন ম্যাধমে প্রকাশিত হয়েছে সেটির কপি ও লিংক সংযুক্ত করতে হবে। আলোকচিত্রটি স্বত্বাধিকার নিশ্চিত করতে হবে। গণমাধ্যমে যেভাবে প্রকাশিত হয়েছে ঠিক সেভাবেই সংশ্লিষ্ট আলোকচিত্রসহ প্রকাশিত প্রতিবেদনটি জমা দিতে হবে। হার্ড কপি ছাড়াও সফট কপি সংযুক্তি হিসেবে সিডি-র মাধ্যমে জমা দিতে হবে।

৬. একজন আবেদনকারী একাধিক বিভাগে আবেদন করতে পারবেন তবে একটি বিভাগের জন্য একটি প্রতিবেদনের বেশি উপস্থাপন করা যাবে না।

আবেদনপত্র জমাদানের ঠিকানাঃ

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭-র কমিটির নিকট আবেদন সরাসরি জমা দিতে হবে।

যোগাযোগের ঠিকানাঃ

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭
মাইগ্রেশন প্রোগ্রাম, ব্র্যাক
ব্র্যাক সেন্টার, ৭৫ মহাখালী (১২ তলা)
ঢাকা-১২১২
বাংলাদেশ।

মোবাইল - 88 01711 404561
ইমেইল  - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

আবেদনের শেষ তারিখ

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড কমিটির নিকট ২০১৮ সালের ১৮ ফেব্রুয়ারি বিকেল ৫টার মধ্যে আবেদন জমা দিতে হবে। সময় সীমার পরে অথবা অসম্পূর্ণ আবেদন গ্রহণযোগ্য হবে না।

বিচারক মণ্ডলী

যেসব সংস্থার সম্মানিত বিচারকমণ্ডলীর দ্বারা আবেদনকৃত প্রবন্ধ/অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদন মূল্যায়ন করা হবেঃ

১. প্রবাসী কল্যাণ ও বৈদেশিক কর্মসংস্থান মন্ত্রনালয়ের একজন প্রতিনিধি

২. গণযোগাযোগ ও সাংবাদিকতা বিভাগ এর একজন স্বনামধন্য শিক্ষক

৩. নাগরিকসমাজ থেকে একজন প্রতিনিধি

৪. গণমাধ্যম ব্যক্তিত্ব

পুরস্কার বিতরণী অনুষ্ঠান

অভিবাসন মিডিয়া অ্যাওয়ার্ড ২০১৭ অনুষ্ঠিত হওয়ার তারিখ সংশ্লিষ্টদের যথাসময়ে জানানো হবে।


ফরম Download করুন

 

 

supports-ultra-poor-by-2020

BRAC on Saturday said it has set a target to support 4.5 lakh ultra-poor families across the country by 2020 to complement government's effort to eradicate extreme poverty.

BRAC's endeavor in this regard was projected at the 'Development Fair 2018' that the world's largest non-government organization took part. The three-day fair rounded off today at the National Shilpakala Academy in the city.

BERAC showcased its range of programmes implemented for poverty alleviation and development at the fair. Among its programmes, Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) was specially focused in the event for its dedicated work since 2002 in stamping out extreme poor.

Brochures describing the TUP programme activities, leaflets explaining its role in the achievement of country's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and booklets profiling the families successfully graduating from ultra-poverty were among the materials displayed at the BRAC stall at the fair. Through its TUP programme BRAC provided assistance to over 17 lakh families in 47 districts from 2002 to 2017 to recover from ultra-poverty.

In 2018 TUP is being implemented in 210 upazilas of 43 districts, BRAC said on Saturday. Current allocation under the programme for each participating family is roughly Tk. 40,000.

Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:00

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When the World Bank declared Bangladesh as a lower-middle income economy in 2015, some of us can remember its first president in Bangladesh Just Faaland and his joint work with economist Richard Parkinson. The duo saw what a difficult path awaited the new nation in The Test Case for Development (1976):

'It must be the fond hope of most educated people that man can control events and his own future. There is little to give credence to that view in the situation of Bangladesh … Nature, not man, is in charge of the situation in Bangladesh … All of this would not matter if Bangladesh were rich in natural resources and under-populated, if it were effectively governed, and if its social order and economic system were geared to growth, but none of these things obtain.'

Four decades after the publication, the World Bank once again discussed Bangladesh, this time for its success in alleviating extreme poverty. In recognition of the success, its president Jim Yong Kim was present in Dhaka for the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. He observed, ‘Bangladesh has shown the world that a long list of hardships can be overcome… its people have shown that innovation, commitment, setting goals and visionary leadership can accomplish feats that few dared to imagine.’

The chief of the same global body celebrated a change that, forty years earlier, was unimaginable to his predecessor.

2

As Faaland-Parkinson rightly observed, Bangladesh did not have the adequate base of large-scale industrial and agricultural production or mineral resources of high value for taking the mainstream path to development. The nation therefore cut its own unique path, which closely tied social development with economic progress. Income generation for poor households through small initiatives, earning opportunities for families living in extreme poverty, huge migration from low-income groups for wage labour abroad, increasing the involvement of women in income-generation activities, increased disaster preparedness, around hundred per cent children enrolled into primary schools, reducing the size of the average family, a number of outstanding successes in health - including eradication of polio and smallpox, prevention of night blindness, controlling diseases like tuberculosis and diarrhoea – all these apparently smaller and unremarkable successes and achievements brought a sustained change in the life of millions of people living in poverty. The combined impact of the changes is reflected in national progress indicators, as well as in fulfilling the country’s MDG target of bringing poverty rate down to 29 per cent three years before the target.

The innovations and initiatives of normal citizens have played the most significant role in these changes. The government’s long-term policies and their fairly consistent spending in areas such as education and health have provided support, and not-for-profit social and development actors and the private sector have also played a big role. NGOs particularly played a crucial role of bringing innovation into rural poverty reduction, and in establishing platforms through which people living in poverty, particularly women, can access basic services and exercise rights.

3

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Having reached this juncture, where Bangladesh is poised to make an even greater leap towards economic prosperity, some have argued whether NGOs have anything more to do in this country. The reality is NGOs are no less important in current Bangladesh than they were any time in the past. The USA, with all its prosperity, has more than 1.5 million active not-for-profits. With socio-economic changes, the nature of social problems will change shape. The key challenges we see now in Bangladesh are rapid urbanisation, quality education for the 21st century, climate change, youth employment, increasing inequality, huge lifestyle changes and their psychological consequences. The impact of these factors will only intensify in the coming years, and the nation will need to be adequately prepared to tackle them. Not-for-profit social organisations will play a big role in tackling them.

Financing has always remained one of the biggest challenges for NGOs. A large portion of NGOs draw their finance from international donors. Bangladesh’s preferred status as a darling country of choice by donors is changing with her steady progress though. In parallel, new crisis pockets which increasingly demand humanitarian relief are emerging globally. Donor assistance is now often directed to communities struggling with more dire situations such as war and famine. How can then Bangladeshi NGOs finance its activities with such dire constraints? Two major way-outs in this regard are:

  1. Encouraging growth of social enterprises
  2. Drawing from government resources

BRAC's social enterprises have proved that intelligently-developed commodities and services can play a strong role in social good. Aarong, BRAC’s flagship social enterprise initiative, not only involves 65,000 artisans across the country, but its training centres have also provided a platform for thousands of skilled people to become independent entrepreneurs for the last four decades. Aarong’s profits are partly channelled for the growth of the enterprise and partly support BRAC’s other social development initiatives.

The basic concept behind social enterprises such as Aarong is to develop and sell high-quality commodities and services for the richer segments in society, and then spend the surplus on social development causes. NGOs facing a curb in donor funding will need to explore areas where market gaps exist and private sector players are reluctant to get on board because there are not enough profits.

4

Our government needs to bring NGOs as part of their Annual Development Plan implementation activities and for good reasons. The government's present target is to achieve the status of an upper-middle income country by 2030-31. This will require the per capita income to rise to an ambitious USD 4136. This target has to be combined with the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure equity-based progress. The government has planned the process out in the current seventh 5-year plan. Many challenges make this a tough target to achieve however -- the major ones being reduced donor assistance, bureaucratic hurdles, delayed implementation of projects and a lack of innovative models for solving social problems. Utilising NGOs' capacity of innovation, programme implementation and grassroots mobilisation can be an important tool for the government in ensuring equity-based development.

There are already ample examples of GO-NGO partnerships in our country. The government's partnership with the ICDDR,B and BRAC to spread the oral saline formula to the grassroots is probably the best-known of these. In a more recent example, 23 NGOs are working in a government-led partnership to rid the country of TB.

These GO-NGO partnerships are happening only in the donor funded projects though. It is time to involve the social development organisations in the national revenue funded programmes also.

It is also important to note that NGOs are never an opponent of the government. NGOs, particularly the service-focused ones, are merely a sector that works through the policies and laws and under the guidance of the state in a complementary capacity. Social organisations are able do things quickly, because of the nature of the organisational culture, which the government sometimes finds difficult because of its structure and capacity. On the other hand, most NGOs do not have the capacity of working at a scale as large as that of the government.

It is the centuries-old tradition of working for the common good with a voluntary spirit that lies at the heart of forming NGOs or any other social organisations. Their necessity does not end with whatever great progress a nation or society achieves. The hundreds of NGOs that have been serving Bangladesh's people for decades are expected to continually adapt to the changing realities and needs. The government should also come forward to become part of the solution and embrace them to increase the effectiveness of both parties.

As one of the country's major development actors, our demand is equity-based growth for our country. To avoid the risk of Bangladesh’s economic growth creating massive inequity, NGOs will continue to be relevant. The question is whether we are willing to evolve and are ready to do such partnerships.