Microfinance and Targeting the Ultra Poor
BRAC and BRAC International
Mr Shameran Abed is the senior director in charge of BRAC’s microfinance and ultra poor graduation programmes and is a member of BRAC’s executive management committee. BRAC’s microfinance programme serves more than 6.5 million clients in seven countries in Asia and Africa, and has total assets exceeding USD 2.5 billion. BRAC’s ground-breaking ultra poor graduation programme has graduated more than 1.8 million households out of the direst forms of poverty and social deprivation and has inspired the global uptake of the ‘graduation approach’ to tackle extreme poverty.
Mr Abed also chairs the board of BRAC Bank’s mobile financial services subsidiary, bKash, and serves on the boards of the BRAC UK, IPDC Finance and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). Additionally, he is the chairperson of the Microfinance Network and is also a member of the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion (PRFI) and the World Economic Forum’s Financial Inclusion Steering Committee.
Mr Abed is a lawyer by training, having been called to the Bar as a member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in London, UK. He completed his undergraduate studies at Hamilton College in the United States, majoring in economics and minoring in political science.
Ms Tamara Hasan Abed is senior director, BRAC Enterprises, heading BRAC’s 13 social enterprises including Aarong, BRAC Dairy and BRAC Seed & Agro Enterprise. She is a member of BRAC’s executive management committee.
Ms Abed is a member of the Board of Trustees of BRAC University, the BRAC University Syndicate and Chairperson of BRAC University’s Finance Committee. She is a director on the boards of BRAC EPL Investments, BRAC EPL Stock Brokerage, IPDC Finance, BRAC Karnafuli Tea Co., BRAC Kaiyacherra Tea Co., BRAC Kodala Tea Estate and BRAC Industries Ltd. She chairs the board of BRAC Services Ltd. and is the executive trustee of Ayesha Abed Foundation. She also served on the Board of BRAC Bank for eight years until June 2016.
Ms Abed started her career in 1995 as an investment banker in Corporate Finance at Peregrine Capital Ltd., Dhaka and worked in Goldman Sachs, New York in Mergers and Strategic Advisory. She also worked in BRAC’s Urban Development Programme and managed a small business of her own in the hospitality industry. She has 20 years of experience in multiple sectors including retail, finance, social enterprise, development, dairy and hospitality both locally and internationally. Tamara is an Asia 21 Young Leader and was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2010. She received the Outstanding Women Leadership Award from the World Women Leadership Congress in 2014.
She has a BSc (Econ.) honours degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School. In 2014, Ms Abed attended an executive course on Transformational Leadership at Oxford University’s Said Business School.
BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212.
Programme Development, Resource Mobilisation and Learning
BRAC and BRAC International
Mr Dirk Booy is the senior director responsible for Programme Development, Resource Mobilisation and Learning at BRAC and BRAC International and is a member of BRAC’s executive management committee. Mr Booy brings to BRAC more than 37 years of end-to-end experience in international development. He has worked at the village level, run a national field office, managed a large fundraising support office in Canada, and provided global programme leadership across more than 96 countries. As a global executive, Mr Booy has a proven track record of leading transformational change in complex, multi-cultural organisations.
Prior to joining BRAC, Mr Booy worked as a global consultant serving in various advisory roles, interim executive assignments and consultancies. Before that, he held global roles at World Vision International including Partnership Leader Global Programs, as well as Global Field Operations based out of London, UK. In addition, he has served as vice president and executive vice president of World Vision Canada and led World Vision Tanzania as its national director. Mr Booy has served on the boards of various microfinance institutions, including as chairman of SEDA Tanzania and board member of Vision Fund International.
BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212.
Strategy, Communication and Empowerment
BRAC and BRAC International
Mr Asif Saleh is the senior director in charge of strategy, communications and empowerment at BRAC and BRAC International and a member of BRAC’s executive management committee. He oversees advocacy, information and communications technology (ICT), communications and the social innovation lab. He is currently in charge of the empowerment cluster, which includes migration, human rights and legal aid services (HRLS), urban development programme (UDP) and skills development programme (SDP).
Prior to joining BRAC in 2011, Mr Saleh was an executive director at Goldman Sachs and also worked at GlaxoWellcome, NorTel and IBM. Upon his return to Bangladesh in 2008, he worked as a policy specialist for the UNDP-funded Access to Information Programme (A2i) at the Prime Minister’s Office. He is the founder of Drishtipat, a global organisation with chapters across the globe focusing on the human and economic rights of Bangladeshis. Mr Saleh was recognised for his work by Asia Society’s Asia 21 programme in 2008, the Bangladeshi-American Foundation in 2007, and was selected as an Asia 21 Fellow in 2012. He was selected to be a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2013.
Mr Saleh holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA in management from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
Mr Saleh is a member of the board of directors of BRAC Bank and BRAC Net. He also chairs BRAC IT Services Limited. He is also on the board of multiple non-profits such as 1 Degree Initiative, Spreeha and Institute of Informatics and Development.
Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He studied Accountancy in London, qualifying as a Cost Management Accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life. He left his job and moved to London, where he helped initiate Action Bangladesh and HELP Bangladesh in support of the Liberation War.
Early in 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, called for urgent relief and rehabilitation efforts. Sir Fazle established BRAC to address the needs of refugees in a remote area of north-eastern Bangladesh, guided by a desire to help the poor develop their own capacity to better manage their lives.
Today BRAC is one of the largest NGOs in the world, operating across twelve countries in Africa and Asia. Its primary objectives are to alleviate poverty and empower the poor. In 2018, for the third consecutive year, BRAC was ranked first among the world’s top 500 NGOs by Geneva-based ‘NGO Advisor’ in terms of impact, innovation and sustainability.
Sir Fazle has been honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the LEGO Prize (2018), Laudato Si’ Award (2017), Jose Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award, South Asia Region (2016), Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal in Global Public Health (2016), World Food Prize (2015), Trust Women Hero Award (2014), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal (2014), CEU Open Society Prize (2013), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), Entrepreneur for the World Award (2009), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for lifetime achievement in social development and poverty alleviation (2007), UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), Gleitsman Foundation International Activist Award (2003), Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award (2003), Olof Palme Prize (2001), InterAction Humanitarian Award (1998) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
He is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the ‘global greats’ and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. He was a member of the Commission on Health Research for Development (1987-90), the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (1991-92) and the High-level Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (2005-2008). In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In both 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
The many honorary degrees received by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed include those from Princeton University (2014), the University of Oxford (2009), Columbia University (2008) and Yale University (2007). He was a visiting scholar at Harvard University in 1981.
BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212.
Executive Director, BRAC International
Mr Faruque Ahmed is the executive director of BRAC International. He is also a member of BRAC’s executive management committee.
Prior to this, Mr Ahmed was the director of BRAC’s health programme for 10 years, playing a critical role in shaping the organisation’s health strategy and scaling several community-based health and nutrition interventions. Before joining BRAC, Mr Ahmed worked as senior operations officer in the health, nutrition and population team at the World Bank, Bangladesh.
Mr Ahmed started his career as a research and planning officer in 1976, and then worked in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. He is also on the Social Marking Company Board. He serves as a member of the working group of Bangladesh Health Watch and formerly represented civil society on the GAVI Alliance board.
Mr Ahmed completed his master’s in health sciences from Johns Hopkins University, and master’s in economics from the University of Dhaka.
The world will need to halve the deaths from tuberculosis and reduce newly infected patients by 80 per cent to meet Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This will essentially need stepping up effort in both TB diagnosis and prevention. The implication of the disease is so broad and deep in the country's public health that political parties should bring it into their manifestoes for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Speakers expressed these views today on Monday (10 December 2018) at a roundtable workshop organised at the BRAC Centre in the capital. National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum and BRAC jointly organised the event titled 'Ensuring TB diagnosis and prevention through proactive role'.
National TB Control Programme line director Professor Dr Md Shamiul lslam was present at the event as the chief guest. Advisor to NTP Bangladesh on Global Fund and MDR-TB Dr Md Abdul Hamid Salim presented the keynote paper, while BRAC associate director for communicable diseases programme Dr Mahfuza Rifat gave the welcome speech.
Moderated by Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum (BHRF) vice president Nurul Islam Hasib, the programme was also addressed, among others, by WHO Bangladesh medical officer for communicable diseases surveillance Dr Mya Sapal Ngon, BRAC director for communicable diseases and WASH programme Dr Md Akramul Islam, Damien Foundation country director Dr Aung Kya Jai Maug, and BHRF president Toufiq Maruf.
Professor Dr Md Shamiul lslam said, the main objective of the National TB Control Programme is to increase TB diagnosis, for which it is now focusing on applying different modern techniques.
He further observed that any decrease in donor assistance may negatively impact the country's fight against tuberculosis. But the government on its own is putting high emphasis on its control as Bangladesh is still one of the high-risk nations in TB. 'I hope that the Global Fund and other donors will continue their assistance,' he added.
Dr Md Akramul Islam, while saying the world will need to halve the deaths from TB by 2030 to meet the related SDG targets, viewed that the political parties should include this issue in their pledge for the national elections due end of this year.
He stressed strengthened work at the community level, including dissemination of TB prevention awareness messages, increase in salary and other facilities for healthcare professionals, deploying adequate number of skilled medical technicians, and ensuring treatment for all irrespective of financial condition.
Speakers mentioned that urban population in the country is in more risk of infecting TB than those living in the rural areas. In Bangladesh, number of TB patients, combining both old and new, in rural areas is 270 per 100 thousand, while it is 316 in the urban areas.
The discussants came up with several recommendations, which include putting more focus on prevention of tuberculosis and quality of drugs, stepping up effort to control urban TB, prioritising diagnosis of child TB, bringing new drugs in the market, and facilitating more in-depth reports in the mass media.
The Jibika project, a collaboration between BRAC and Chevron, implemented under BRAC’s integrated development programme, held an experience sharing event on Monday, 10 December 2018 at Dhaka to share the learnings and experiences of the three-year long project.
Md Kamal Uddin Talukder, Secretary of Rural Development and Cooperatives Division, Ministry of LGRD and Cooperatives, was present as the chief guest. Md Abdul Majid, Registrar and Director General, Department of Cooperatives, Ministry of LGRD and Cooperatives; Neil Menzies, President, Chevron Bangladesh; Ismail Chowdhury, Director, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Bangladesh, and KAM Morshed, Director, Advocacy for Social Change, Technology and Partnership Strengthening Unit, BRAC attended as special guests. Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment, Integrated Development, Gender Justice and Diversity Programme of BRAC presided over the event.
Mr Talukder lauded the collaboration between BRAC, the largest development organisation in the world, and Chevron, Bangladesh’s largest international oil company, working together for the socio-economic development of vulnerable communities residing in Chevron’s areas of operation in northeast Bangladesh. President of Chevron, Neil Menzies thanked the Jibika project and the government cooperative department for their contribution in socio-economic development through the institutionalisation of community organisations.
KAM Morshed, Director, BRAC, emphasised on the value chain system and enterprise development of the community through the Jibika project, mentioning that this model can be replicated in other regions of the country, especially for the vulnerable people of the haor area.
Jibika project participant Taslima Begum, President, Uttor Baluchar Zonaki Kornofuli Sharbik Gram Unnayan Shomobay Shamiti, said that the trainings and knowledge gathered from the BRAC-Chevron and IDEA’s Jibika project has helped her and other community to learn how to operate a village development organisation, how to improve enterprise through new technology, market system, and linkage with service providers. She thanked Jibika for improving her and other women’s lives of the community.
Besides sharing stories by the Jibika project participants, the Jibika model was displayed, along with a stall representing the Jibika VDO. A documentary showed two village developments, namely Amukona Village Development Organisation and Kashba Village Development Organisation from Nabiganj upazila of Habiganj district, for their recognition as best VDOs from the government cooperative for the year 2018.
The Jibika project was designed to develop local institutions and promote entrepreneurship for sustainable income growth of the marginalised farming households around the Chevron-operated gas fields in Sylhet, Moulavibazar, and Habiganj districts. Jibika’s economic development activities are steered through 112 community-based organisations known as village development organisations (VDO). IDEA, a Sylhet-based NGO has been working with BRAC as its implementing partner. About 20,000 people have benefitted since the implementation of Jibika three years ago.
New program will provide critical new insights into effective models of learning through play for children affected by crisis
Billund, Denmark - 5 December 2018 - Today, the LEGO Foundation announced that it is awarding a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop to ensure that young children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian crises have opportunities to learn through play and develop the skills needed for the future. Working in partnership with BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and New York University’s Global TIES for Children, Sesame Workshop will reach children affected by crises in Bangladesh and the Syrian response region with early childhood and play-based learning opportunities.
The $100 million grant from the LEGO Foundation will benefit some of the world’s most vulnerable children and call attention to the critical importance of learning through play to set them on a path of healthy growth and development. The LEGO Foundation is the first to step up and meet the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s call for the bold philanthropy needed to transform the way the humanitarian system serves children affected by crisis in early childhood.
The scale of the global refugee crisis is staggering—today, 68.5 million people are displaced worldwide. Among them are 25 million refugees, half of whom are children. As refugees experience displacement for an average of 10 years, millions of children are spending a significant part of their childhoods without access to adequate early childhood development opportunities. Adverse experiences like displacement can affect young children’s developing brains, with lasting effects on health and wellbeing. Engaging in play-based activities with responsive caregivers can help mitigate the detrimental, long term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving children affected by conflict the skills they need to thrive into adulthood and rebuild their communities.
“This partnership marks the first step of the LEGO Foundation’s commitment to work within the humanitarian field to support children’s holistic development that incorporates learning through play. We hope to inspire other funders, humanitarian actors, world leaders and governments to act and urgently prioritise support for play-based early childhood development for children in humanitarian crises—a vastly overlooked but vital component in the progress of humanitarian aid. We hope that young children impacted by these crises will have opportunities to benefit from learning through play and also develop the skills needed for them to thrive in the future,” says Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board and 4th generation owner of the LEGO Group.
Less than 3% of the global humanitarian aid budget is currently dedicated to education with only a small fraction benefitting young children, despite clear evidence that early childhood interventions have immediate and long-term benefits for both children and their communities. The LEGO Foundation is committed to making a difference for children affected by conflict and displacement, to ensure a better tomorrow for all future generations.
“Research shows that not only is play vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, but it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures. Early adverse experiences negatively affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. By providing play-based learning to children in crisis, we can help mitigate the detrimental, long term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving a generation of refugee children a path forward,” says John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.
Sesame Workshop will use the $100 million grant to implement quality, play-based early childhood interventions, working in partnership with BRAC and IRC. This includes the following areas:
● Direct Services: Partnering with BRAC, the new program will scale up BRAC’s network of Humanitarian Play Labs to address the developmental needs of children ages 0 to 6 from Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host populations. BRAC’s Play Lab model is designed to give pre-school children age relevant and culturally appropriate play materials, a play-based curriculum, and safe spaces for guided play that ensures their holistic development.
New Sesame videos, storybooks, games, puzzles, and more featuring the beloved Muppets of Sesame Street will be created to foster engagement between children and their caregivers, nurture developmental needs, and build resilience for children ages 0 to 6.
The new program will also deepen the play-based learning aspects of the existing Sesame Workshop-IRC program that serves children and families affected by the Syrian conflict, including support for caregivers to better engage in playful learning with their children.
● Mass Media: Harnessing the power of the Sesame Street Muppets, Sesame Workshop will create videos focused on play to be shared through family-friendly mobile and pop-up viewings in refugee and host communities. Global Sesame content will also be used—including video content from Sisimpur, the Bangladeshi version of Sesame Street, and from a new TV series in production in the Syrian response region—to meet the unique needs of refugee and host community children.
Much of the new content will use animated and nonverbal formats, so that it can be used to address the needs of displaced children no matter where they live or what language they speak.
“Women and children bear the brunt of any humanitarian crisis, and many are traumatised by the brutal violence they have experienced. However, children are also amazingly resilient and take up every opportunity to play, learn and just be children. Children use play as a shield, even if it is for a few hours, to overcome the trauma they’ve endured, create happy memories and make new friends,” said Erum Mariam, Director, BRAC Institute of Educational Development. “With support from the LEGO Foundation and in partnership with Sesame Workshop, we will scale up our Humanitarian Play Lab model to give children from both refugee and host communities the opportunities to play and learn that are critical to their healthy development.”
“With the LEGO Foundation’s extraordinary award, Sesame Workshop and our partners have an unprecedented opportunity to reach and teach some of the world’s most vulnerable children by harnessing the power of learning through play,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, President & CEO of Sesame Workshop. “The global refugee crisis is the humanitarian issue of our time, and we are deeply humbled by the trust the LEGO Foundation has placed in us to uplift the lives of children affected by conflict. Together with our partners at BRAC, the IRC, and NYU, we can forge a legacy for children worldwide affected by displacement, today and for generations to come.”
NYU’s Global TIES for Children has been selected as the independent evaluation partner for the program and will implement an evidence-based research and evaluation program, which will deepen understanding around play-based early childhood interventions in humanitarian contexts.
Sesame Workshop will receive the $100 million grant over a 5-year period, with funds released as established milestones are met.
About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play. Learn more on www.LEGOfoundation.com.
About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit sesameworkshop.org.
BRAC is a global leader in developing cost-effective, evidence-based programmes, and has been ranked the #1 NGO in the world for the last three years consecutively by NGO Advisor. BRAC’s vision is a world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC acts as a catalyst, creating opportunities for people to transform their lives. BRAC uses an integrated model to change systems of inequity, through social development programmes, humanitarian response, social enterprises, socially responsible investments and a university. The organisation has an annual expenditure of more than USD 1.1 billion, with the majority self-financed from its enterprises, and operates in conflict-prone and post-disaster settings in 11 countries across Asia and Africa.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.
About NYU Global TIES
Founded in 2014, New York University's Global TIES for Children is an international research center dedicated to designing, evaluating and advising on programs and policies that improve the lives of children and youth in the most vulnerable regions across the globe. Embedded within NYU’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change, and supported by NYU Abu Dhabi and the NYU Abu Dhabi Research Institute, Global TIES for Children works with some of the world’s leading non-governmental organizations and governments in low-income and conflict-affected countries to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to promoting the holistic development of children and their communities. Learn more at https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/ihdsc/global-ties.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said the government is seriously considering the importance increasing facilities in different areas for the persons with disabilities. But the real challenge lies in the implementation. It is true to all the underprivileged communities of the country as mainstream development opportunities still largely eschew them. Their merit and potential must be put to full use for national development. Enhanced ability for safe mobility is crucial for the development of every disabled person, which is why the metro-rail system that will be introduced in the capital in the coming years must integrate features facilitating safe commuting by people with disabilities.
The NHRC chairman made these observations in his speech today on Sunday (2 December 2018) at a stakeholder consultation event organised at the BRAC Centre in the capital. He was present at the programme as the chief guest. BRAC and NHRC organised it on the occasion of National Disability Day observed on 3 December.
A memorandum of understanding was signed at the event between the two organisations with the objective of increasing facilities for the disabled people in metro rail. Hiranmaya Barai, secretary, NHRC, and Dr Muhammad Musa, executive director, BRAC, signed the MoU on behalf of the respective parties.
Under this MoU the two organisations will jointly work with the aim to ensure increased access of the disabled people to the metro rail and other public infrastructures, while also work for digitalisation to the benefit of cross sections of people.
NGO Affairs Bureau director general KM Abdus Salam, attended the event as the special guest. NHRC secretary Hiranmaya Barai, Australian deputy high commissioner Penny Morton, BRAC executive director Dr Muhammad Musa, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited managing director MAN Siddique, Women with Disabilities Development Foundation (WDDF) founder Ashrafun Nahar Misti, BRAC Advocacy for Social Change director KAM Morshed spoke among others at the programme.
Dr Muhammad Musa said that this MoU is not merely an agreement, but a pledge also. He stressed that BRAC is and will always stand by the disabled people.
He further said, It’s true that we are now progressing with a growth rate of over 7 per cent. The nation is advancing through the realisation of the dream we had dreamt as we fought for our national liberation. In spite of this remarkable progress our economy has a setback. It is because not every citizen is benefiting from this fruit of development. Having kept this reality in mind, we have signed this agreement so that we can work together to ensure that they have better access to facilities.