Historical background and social missions
BRAC Fisheries was initiated in 1976 as a post war rehabilitation effort for destitute women in remote areas. These areas, which were surrounded by water bodies that had no previous use, provided the locals with the opportunity to earn an income. BRAC’s intervention carved a pathway for them to use their local assets and resources to generate income. Initially, BRAC provided training and technical support to the people interested in cultivating fish, and the social mission back then was to provide these previously unemployed people with work that would lead to financial solvency for them. However, soon BRAC realised that there was a lack of quality fish spawn in the market as it was difficult to collect the product from the government or external sources and supply it to the local fish farmers. To meet the demand, BRAC initiated its own fish hatchery, which then evolved into an enterprise in 2008, with a new social goal to their existing agenda – making quality fish spawn easily available to the fish cultivators of rural Bangladesh.
The enterprise today
Since their journey began as an enterprise, BRAC Fisheries have earned a reliable position in the fishery industry of Bangladesh. Under a strict supervision for quality control, it produces and sells the three most popular varieties of fish spawn in the urban market – prawn, carp and tilapia, which can be yielded in a higher scale of production. Being one of the first fisheries to realise the potential large market for tilapia across the country, BRAC Fisheries now produces and supplies over 100 million tilapia spawn all over Bangladesh.
The enterprise approach
Since evolving into a social enterprise, BRAC Fisheries has been undertaking goal oriented approaches in increasing its productivity. Initially, due to the workers not being accountable to anyone for their performances, their productivity was not up to the mark. Later, when this initiative evolved into a social enterprise, BRAC started training these workers to be more commercial in terms of efficiency. They were now working more hours and more efficiently to reach a specific target set by BRAC Fisheries. As a result, their production increased from 50 kilogrammes per decimal to almost 150 kilogrammes per decimal. The vast increase in the workers’ efficiency has proved to be quite fruitful, and BRAC Fisheries now has 15hatcheries in 10 locations all over Bangladesh, generating a surplus of nearly BDT 32 million that goes into funding BRAC’s development programmes. They have also worked far in fulfilling their social mission – the rural population involved in BRAC Fisheries are now solvent and highly educated in this field, they have also played a major role in distributing high quality fish spawn throughout Bangladesh in a commendable quantity.
As one of the most successful ventures of BRAC’s social enterprises, BRAC Fisheries is looking forward to an even brighter future. It plans to develop more varieties of fish spawn. One of the goals that BRAC Fisheries is now looking forward to reach is the production of nutrient fishes for dietary benefits of the rural population of Bangladesh. It is also looking forward to introducing higher yielding foreign varieties into the country. Looking ahead to the future, similar to BRAC Chicken, it hopes to launch ready-to-eat frozen fish products for the urban market. Overall, BRAC Fisheries’ efficiency model and well developed future plans promise even greater success in the coming years.
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