15 December 2011, Dhaka. Tune in to ABC this Friday, Dec. 16, at 10 pm (EST) for a "20/20" special with Diane Sawyer featuring BRAC – and Rina, a new mother who lives in a slum in Bangladesh.
Bearing a child should be the happiest day of a woman life – but too often, for reasons that are entirely preventable, it ends in the death of the mother, the child, or both. BRAC has figured out a low-cost yet ingenious solution for reducing pregnancy risk, reaching 24.5 million people in the process. That's the population of the state of Texas.
In “Making Life: A Risky Proposition,” an hour-long report on challenges faced by mothers in developing countries, ABC News travels to the slums of Dhaka, seeing our work in action – including a visit to a BRAC birthing hut to welcome the new arrival of Rina's healthy baby boy. The report is part of ABC News's Million Moms Challenge.
We’re making a real difference, and we believe we can multiply our efforts by spreading the BRAC approach worldwide. So tune into ABC on Friday and help us spread the good news! You can save a woman's life today by giving directly to BRAC's maternal and child health program on Global Giving.
10 December 2011, Dhaka. The 5th annual e-Asia event, Asia’s largest ICT for Development Conference and Exhibition convened in Dhaka from 1st – 3rd December 2011 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. The conference focused on e-technology and the progress, prospect and problems faced in Bangladesh with regards to innovative technology in an Asian context. With the slogan ‘Realising Digital Nation’, the event commemorated the launch of Digital Bangladesh 2021, an initiative to increase ICT literacy in the country, provide government services through e-platforms and generate more employment in the service industry for the increasing number of young professionals entering the job market.
As one of the Knowledge Partners for the event, BRAC, in conjunction with BRAC University and BRAC, showcased their innovative developmental products and shared their expansion activities in agriculture, education, human rights, healthcare and disaster management using information and communication technology. Some of these include iCARESS (Integrated Collaboration and Rapid Emergency Support Services), which is designed to address comprehensive collaboration effort across various BRAC programmes, educational materials in conjunction with Computer Aided Learning, the launching of BRAC’s e-Education website and the various products under their Solar project (e.g. flashlights). Also showcased at the BRAC stall was ChondroBot, a mining device constructed by students from BRAC University which facilitated their progress to the second round in NASA’s 2nd Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition earlier this year.
Representing BRAC at the various seminars were Dr. Safiqul Islam, Director, BRAC Education Programme, who chaired the session on Future Classroom: Increasing Learning Achievements; Asif Saleh, Director, Communications who presented on Electronic and mobile payments - Financial Inclusion for the unbanked, with relation to bKash; and Masum Billah, Program Manager PACE, BRAC Education Programme and Mahmuda Yasmin Shaila, a Lecturer at BRAC University, both of whom addressed Localised Content for Digital Learning.
07 December 2011, London. Leading Asian restaurants in Surrey proudly handed over multiple cheques last night to Vision Bangladesh - an ambitious charity project eradicating cataract blindness in Bangladesh.
Loyal customers have been donating generously during October and November to help pay for operations in Bangladesh where there are high levels of blindness because of poverty and lack of facilities.
It costs just £20 to pay for one sight saving operation.
Jubair Zaman, owner of the award winning Curry Inn restaurant in Cranleigh (www.curryinn84.co.uk), explained how he raised more than £400 in just over two weeks:
"We signed up for Vision Bangladesh's £1 on the Bill campaign. We found that people were really happy to give £1 or more on to their normal bill. It was a simple way of raising funds for a really important cause. We would like to thank our customers for their generous support."
Other restaurants - such as the Indus Restaurant in Banstead and Star of India in Cheam - also raised significant amounts from collecting small voluntary donations during October and November.
Mr. Malik, Proprietor of “The Star of India” Indian cuisine, hosted the cheque handing ceremony of the £1 on the bill campaign in the Surrey region in collaboration with Mr. Shah Abdul Malik Azad, Regional Representative of Surrey and General Secretary of the Bangladesh Caterers Association (Surrey Region). The group of more than 20 restaurants in Surrey are planning other fundraising events in the Spring to help reach the target of raising £1.5 million for Vision Bangladesh by 2013.
Members of the public can continue to donate online at www.brac.net/visionbangladesh or by a simple text message. Text BRAC20 and the amount you wish to donate (up to £10) to 70070 (e.g. your text could read BRAC20 £10).
To date, BRAC and Sightsavers have completed more than 29,000 successful cataract operations since January 2011 and are ahead of target to eradicate avoidable blindness in Sylhet Division by 2013.
95% of funds raised will go directly to deliver the Vision Bangladesh programme in Sylhet Division, Bangladesh.
01 December 2011, Dhaka. Five day long South Asia Social Forum (SASF), an international platform to address different contemporary issues for a peaceful South Asia from November 18-22 ended with new hopes and new determination to build a new South Asia. SASF, Bangladesh 2011 was organized with 13 plenary, hundreds of seminars, youth forum, social fair, film show, art camp, cultural show etc.
BRAC has participated in this wonderful international event. More than thousand BRAC people participated of the inauguration rally. Dr Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC, Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Advocacy for social change were present as speaker in different plenary and seminar.
SASF expressed their determination with “Dhaka Statement” where the participants expressed their solidarity to mobilize their efforts in order to assert the agenda of people’s economic survival and political autonomy against all forms of authoritarianism, hierarchy and domination;
The main theme for the South Asia Social Forum 2011 Bangladesh was set "Democracy for Social Transformation in South Asia: Participation, Equity, Justice and Peace". This theme is to highlight and oppose the neo-liberal, hegemonic and authoritarian “poverty reduction” development policy and paradigm. The forum is intended to focus on this structural concern with a clear transformational agenda.
More than seven hundred international and several thousand national participants attended the event. Over six hundred organisations took part in the forum and more than 150 activities took place. University of Dhaka (DU) was co-host of the programme.
02 December 2011, Kampala. BRAC Uganda, one of the leading non-governmental development organisations in Uganda, last Friday, 25th November 2011, won two of the maiden Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) Financial Reporting Awards. The first award, being the best in the NGO Category Financial Reporting Award 2011 and, the other, a Bronze Award, being the third best overall in Financial Reporting 2011 in all sectors in the Country. These follow the Gold Award for Social Performance Management awarded by the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) to BRAC Uganda in September.
The ICPAU awards were presented to BRAC Uganda’s Principal Accountant, who is responsible for all BRAC Uganda finances, Mr. Daniel Businge, by the Uganda Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Maria Kiwanuka at a presentation dinner held in the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. In a speech during the award ceremony the Honourable Minister said” “The accountancy profession plays a crucial role in the prudent management of economic resources, both in the private sector and public sectors, through the application of professional standards.”
The ICPAU Financial Reporting Awards aim at encouraging the implementation of financial reporting standards as well as improving the quality of financial and business reporting in Uganda. The awards which drew 37 participants were open to all organisations which produce annual reports in the country and were meant to provide an opportunity to the participating organisations to benchmark their reports against the ICPAU’s criteria of good financial reports. Each annual report was judged against itself, based on its success in communicating its organisation’s story.
The awards were sponsored by Vision Group, East African Development Bank, The African Capacity Building Foundation and the National Planning Authority.
“These two Awards in Financial Reporting justify our major goal of ensuring clear, reliable and understandable financial reports for our major partners and other stake holders,” Mr. Businge said.
BRAC Uganda, providing access to finance and critical livelihood development services to thousands of the country’s poorest people, has been operating in the country for only five years in which it has grown to be the largest NGO in the country. These awards are confirmation that alongside growth, BRAC is putting equal emphasis on ensuring transparency and accountability.
21 November 2011, Dhaka. Lessons Learned Sharing Session on “Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government” project of Community Empowerment Programme, BRAC, with assistance from United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), was held on 21st November, 2011, at BRAC Centre Inn.
The session was chaired by Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director, BRAC. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, former Adviser of the Caretaker Government was present as the Chief Guest at the session. We were also honored to have Dr. Asif Nazrul, Professor, Department of Law, Dhaka University as Special Guest, and Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, Vice President and Country Director, The Hunger Project-Bangladesh and Dr. Dilara Chowdhury, Professor, North South University as guest speakers. The welcome address inauguration of the session was given by Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment Programme, BRAC. Presentation on lessons learned from the “Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government” project was given by Kazi Nazrul Fattah, Programme Manager, Community Empowerment Programme, BRAC. Representatives from various government, non-government organizations, embassies, members of the civil society, Union Parishad Chairman and representatives, and project beneficiaries and participants were also present.
The main aim of the Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government project was to create conditions for more active civic engagement among rural poor citizens and strengthen capacities of local government towards more accountable and effective governance. The main activities of the project included creating Citizens Committees as ward level community watch groups of the local governments and evaluation of the Union Parishad through these rural people. Through this project grassroots people became sensitized about their rights and civic responsibilities. In addition, local government representatives became sensitized about their responsibilities.
The Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government Project was implemented in 10 Upazilas in Bogra and Jessore. Direct project beneficiaries and participants under this project included 1,357 Union Parishad representatives, 300 Polli Shomaj (19,500 members), and 300 Citizens Committees (4,917 members).
In the lessons learned sharing session, all the speakers and participants agreed that if the Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government Project is scaled up and implemented, local communities will be able to get better access to service and resource delivery. They also agreed that grassroots people will become aware about their citizens rights and responsibilities, and get access to dependable information about resources and services of the local government through such initiatives. The project has made local government more sensitized towards better service delivery, becoming more transparent and accountable towards pro-poor good governance, benefitting the poor, and marginalized, especially women. Pathways for good governance will be created through the active participation the local community as well as local government representatives and administration.
Dr Akbar Ali Khan, former advisor to the Caretaker Government commented, “I am a strong supporter of local governance and administration. Decentralized local governance needs to be empowered for grassroots community empowerment and development. Local Governance Commission needs to be created to monitor and audit activities of the local government.” In addition, Dr. Akbar Ali commented that, “The Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government project made good achievements, whose best learnings should be scaled up for greater impact.”
Dr. Asif Nazrul, Professor, Dhaka University, in his speech, commented, “Grassroots participation is a key essential component for ensuring transparency and accountability of the local government. The Right to Information Act provides good opportunity for increasing people’s access to information and ensuring good governance.”
21 November 2011, Dhaka. The GAVI Alliance (formerly the “Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation”) is Geneva-based public-private partnership which strives to improve health in the world’s poorest countries. The Alliance connects developing countries with government donor organisations, the World Health organisation, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
GAVI provides life-saving vaccines and works to strengthen health systems. In its first decade of work, GAVI has financed the immunisation of 325.6 million children and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths.
On November 11th 2011, BRAC played co-host to The GAVI Alliance Board Meeting and associated events. The week began with the GAVI-Civil Society Organisation Steering Committee meeting, a series of activities and field visits, in addition to the observance of World Pneumonia Day. The week then ended with a culminating GAVI Board meeting from the 15th to the 17th.
Members from participating countries led the Steering Committee Meeting. Among others, Rosemary Anderson Akola (Oxfam Ghana), Awunyo-Akaba (Future Generations International, Ghana), Sabrina Bakeera Kitaka (Uganda Pediatric Association), Daniel Berman (Médecins sans Frontier, Switzerland), Marwin Meier (World Vision Germany), Naveen Thacker (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) and Simon Wright (Save the Children) were present. Dr. Akramul Islam, Programme Head, BHP, and Dr. Sharmin Akhter Zahan, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, acted as BRAC participants.
On November 12th, as an observance of Pneumonia Day, participants travelled to various field sites to raise awareness and to network with GAVI-CSO and country CSOs like BRAC. Three Parliamentary Members from the UK, Mr. Ivan Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development; Lord Mohamed Iltaf Sheikh of Cornhill, Vice-Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bangladesh and Mr. Jim Dobbin MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia has joined the visit. Along with the CSO-SC and British MPs, representatives from MOHFW of Bangladesh Govt. and EPI and DG Health were present. The participants were divided into three groups in three sites that included visits to the local Upazila Health Complex to observe the cold chain system for vaccination, immunisation in government community clinic and CSO activities for health education and community mobilisation for immunisation in BRAC’s field operation. A video message by BRAC’s founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, stressing the importance of preventative measures for pneumonia in Bangladesh was shown while concluding the session in Ruposhi Bangla Hotel on the 13th of November.
Field visits for the board members were organised on November 14th in different locations, including Upazilla Health Complexes, community clinics, where immunisation sessions occurred, as well as neighbourhoods, to view the activities of community mobilisation for immunisation by BRAC Health Volunteers.
Over the next two days, the GAVI Alliance Board Meeting began in the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka. The meeting started with a welcome speech by Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair, GAVI Board and former Health Minister of Norway. The CEO Report was presented by Dr Seth Berkley, who mentioned and reported, “I would particularly like to highlight and thank Faruque Ahmed as a former Board Member and Director of the BRAC Health Programme, which represents one of the best examples of the power of civil society in Development in Bangladesh and the world”.
GAVIs Immunisation short film transmitted an interview conducted by Saleha Akhter, a member of BRAC’s Adolescent Development Programme with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheik Hasina as well as those involved in Bangladesh's remarkable success over the last decade to reach children with vaccines including a health worker, a mother, BRAC's Faruque Ahmed, and the Minister of Health. The next session followed with Prof. AFM Ruhal Haque’s Country Report on Bangladesh, where Prof. Haque again mentioned the CSOs role.
The concluding session was remarkable as the CEO and Chair Mr. Høybråten renewed his thanks for the work of the Bangladesh Government and the partners like UNICEF, WHO and particularly BRAC, in the efforts of immunisation and vaccination.
16 November 2011. BRAC, the world’s largest development organization, lays out its “microfinance plus” approach to defeating global poverty at the Global Microcredit Summit 2011 in Valladolid, Spain, this week. Presenting BRAC’s strategy to over 2,000 delegates at the annual microfinance conference, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson, advocates a market-oriented approach to job creation and poverty alleviation that puts poor borrowers on a path to prosperity by giving them a “business in box.”
It’s an approach that development experts call “micro-franchising.” Working in poor communities, BRAC develops sustainable business models that can be easily replicated, creating networks of self-employed micro-entrepreneurs who earn extra income by delivering vital services that achieve a social good.
More than 137.5 million of the world’s poorest families received a microloan in 2010, an all-time high, according to the Microcredit Summit Campaign. BRAC itself reaches over 8 million borrowers, a number rising steadily thanks in part to this year’s launch of bKash Limited, a mobile financial service provider in Bangladesh and a subsidiary of BRAC Bank, the organization’s bank targeting small businesses.
But development organizations should think beyond microfinance to make strides against poverty, BRAC’s founder says. “Financial services alone are not sufficient to break the bonds of poverty,” says Abed, who launched BRAC in Bangladesh in 1972. In a paper presented at the conference, Abed explains how BRAC has combined microfinance with agricultural services to improve rural livelihoods and food security in Bangladesh and around the world.
Now in 10 countries, BRAC has built a global network of 150,000 micro-franchised entrepreneurs providing services in agriculture, poultry, livestock and health. Abed calls it a “holistic, sustainable, market oriented approach” to poverty alleviation that uses microloans, training and branding, while offering borrowers low-cost access to inventory, efficient distribution systems and continuous support.
“BRAC provides the branding, inventory and training to the micro-entrepreneurs, who in turn provide training and product to BRAC microfinance clients and others in the villages where BRAC operates,” writes Abed and co-authors Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Susan Davis, and Rod Dubitsky in the paper, “Using Microfinance Plus Agricultural Services to Improve Rural Livelihoods and Food Security,” which will appear in the forthcoming volume New Pathways out of Poverty (Sterling, Va.: Kumarian Press).
“The entrepreneurs, in turn, earn income by selling the goods BRAC provides at a mark-up. For example, BRAC entrepreneurs earn between $15 and $20 per month in the provision of poultry vaccination services. Farmers in turn get a valuable service and expect to benefit by enjoying a material drop in poultry mortality. Such a ‘Business in a Box’ not only provides a valuable service and income, it is a more sustainable model than other programs that provide vaccines free (which may not be available to all farmers and may not be reliably available).”
Micro-franchising has proved useful in bridging the last mile in the delivery of vital goods and services, says Susan Davis, the president and CEO of BRAC USA and one of the paper’s co-authors. “A poor person can find a bottle of Coca-Cola today anywhere in rural Africa – but not mosquito bed nets and condoms,” says Davis. “Distribution is a real challenge that organizations never speak about, but it is one of the most critical hurdles in reaching the poor. Microfinance institutions can effectively bridge this gap. For instance, BRAC reaches more than 8 million women, every week – at their doorstep, in providing credit and financial services. Can you imagine the potential of a sustainable distribution model like this?”
BRAC began its experiments with micro-franchising decades ago when it realized that merely lending to the poor would not be enough to lift them out of poverty. Dramatic improvement would come, however, with better access to markets, fairer prices, knowledge transfer and higher quality inputs like high-yield seeds and new breeds of chickens. BRAC created agricultural enterprises and services to enhance the business prospects of its microfinance borrowers and other members of poor communities. It used the same approach in providing health care, raising an army of “community health promoters” to provide simple but vital services in slums and villages, like de-worming medication and oral rehydration solution to treat diarrhea in young children.
Though largely unknown outside the international development community, experts have long noted the size and scope of BRAC’s success in Bangladesh. Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, has called BRAC “the most astounding social enterprise in the world.” The Economist called it not only the largest but “one of the most businesslike” nongovernmental organizations in the world.
Today, BRAC is scaling up its micro-franchising approach outside its native Bangladesh. Through a ground-breaking $45 million partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, BRAC has built a network of 3,500 micro-franchised entrepreneurs in Uganda providing critical livelihood and health services to the poor. It currently operates in ten countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.
BRAC, formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, is a global development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. BRAC’s holistic approach aims to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable women and men to realize their potential. BRAC was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and today reaches more than 138 million people in Africa and Asia through its programs that address poverty by providing micro-loans, self-employment opportunities, health services, education and legal and human rights services. Learn more at http://www.bracusa.org.
About the Microcredit Summit Campaign
The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, a U.S.-based advocacy organization committed to creating the will to eliminate poverty. The Campaign was launched in 1997 and, in 2007, surpassed its original goal of reaching 100 million of the poorest families, providing credit for self-employment and other financial and business services. The Global Microcredit Summit 2011 is held November 14-17 in Valladolid, Spain. http://www.globalmicrocreditsummit2011.org.
16 November 2011, London. Media events and launch activities are taking place across the UK in October and November as up to 300 restaurants implement Vision Bangladesh ‘£1 on the Bill’ campaign.
Each restaurant is provided by BRAC UK with materials to run the scheme in their restaurant for a period of four to eight weeks. Early indications show that restaurants are raising on average £100-150 per week and that their loyal customers are showing huge support for Vision Bangladesh, many donating more than the voluntary £1 contribution.
Launch events have already been held in Surrey, Oxford, Carlisle, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Northampton and have generated valuable publicity for the restaurants and the campaign.
31 October 2011, London. Channel S viewers and studio guests donated generously to Vision Bangladesh during a live eight hour telethon organised by BRAC UK in October.
Highly respected leaders from the British Bangladesh business communities – including famous celebrity chefs and award winning restaurateurs – turned up in force to support the goal of eradicating avoidable blindness in Sylhet by 2013 and in Bangladesh by 2020.
Barrister, Anwar Babul, was the host for the evening and welcomed guests many of whom are participating in Vision Bangladesh’s £1 on the Bill restaurant campaign.
Monchab Ali, Vision Bangladesh’s Regional Representative for the North-West and former Chairman of the Greater Sylhet Council was joined by other Regional Representatives, Dobir Miah (Rochdale), Shabbir Ahmed Chawdhury (Oxford), Shah F. Athar (East Sussex), Rokib Ali (Kent), and Raja Ali (Portsmouth) to discuss their role in the fundraising efforts.
Rois Ali, celebrity chef, endorsed the campaign and his involvement as Coventry Regional Representative. Azizur Rahman, in his capacity as senior advisor to £1 on the Bill campaign, encouraged more restaurants to sign up and take part.
BRAC UK was particularly honoured to have the Chairman of Channel S himself, Ahmed US Samad Choudhury JP, appear in the studio and support the fundraising effort.
Alsaz Kabiri, proprietor of Greenwich Linen, supplying restaurants across the UK, Mujib Islam, Managing Director of Media Link, and Nazmul Islam, Chairman of Oldham Bangladesh Association also pledged their continued support to the campaign.
Nilopar Uddin, a lawyer and former volunteer of BRAC came to discuss her first hand experience of BRAC in Bangladesh, and Ryo Osaki, an eye surgeon, explained the simplicity of the cataract operation.
BRAC UK was represented by trustees Robert Evans and Murad Qureshi AM and Vision Bangladesh Project Manager, Tanha Habib.
Abdul Khan, Programme Officer, and Gihan Chowdhury and Shamina Banu, Global Youth Workers, for BRAC UK’s Beyond Boundaries programme also motivated more young British-Bangladeshis to get involved.