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Sunday, 09 December 2012 18:00

Aarong wins UNESCO Award of Excellence 2012

10 December 2012, Dhaka. This year Aarong has been awarded the prestigious 2012 UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts in South-East Asia and Asia for Jamdani stole, silk Nakshi Kantha table runner and bridal jewellery box. These products were selected by UNESCO out of 189 nominations received from ten countries. The products were judged on excellence, authenticity, innovation and marketability with pre-conditions of respect for environment and social responsibility.

The UNESCO panel of expert praised Nakshi Kantha table runner for its “Fine execution of the traditional Nakshi Kantha embroidery on the piece with contemporary selection of colours and design, bringing traditional folk art into modern households” and bridal jewellery box for its “Very fine execution of the traditional Nakshi Kantha embroidery, enhanced by the bright red colour with perfect finishing and its multiple compartments that make it fully functional.”

In 2006, Aarong was granted UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts in South-East Asia and Asia for Terracotta fruit bowl. The earthen bowls, Nakshi Kantha table runner and bridal jewellery box are available in all Aarong outlets.

Owned by BRAC, the fashion retailer Aarong is one of Bangladesh's largest chains. This chic brand began as a humble means to an end for a quiet organisation fighting to uphold the dignity of marginalised people. In 1976, when BRAC first began to support silk firming for Bangladeshi women, the only buyers were a few scattered retailers in Dhaka. Weeks, even months would pass between supply and payment - until BRAC intervened.

Aarong, which means "market" in Bengali, was born to ensure that poor silk farmers were paid on time to feed their families.

Today, Aarong is a fair trade organisation that supports more than 65,000 artisans, 85 percent of whom are women. It is an example to the world of how the poor, when organised properly, can generate a financial surplus to support vital development work.


04 November 2012, Dhaka. Dokhinkhan BRAC Clinic’s part-time physician, Dr. Sajia Afrin Eva, 27, was brutally murdered on Friday; November 30, 2012 during her duty hour (Inna Lillahi Wah Inna Ilaihi Raziun).  BRAC family is deeply shocked and mourns at the sudden demise of Dr. Sajia.

Following a high level management meeting, BRAC authority has decided to provide all out financial and legal support to the deceased family to run and facilitate free and fair judgment of the murder case filed by her father, Monirul Islam, in addition to providing financial compensation to Dr. Sajia’s family.

Dr. Sajia started working at BRAC Health Clinic, Dokkhinkhan as a part time doctor from Ocrober, 2012.  She had graduated from Sylhet Osmani Medical College and was undergoing advance post graduate training at Shaheed Sarawardi Medical College Hospital.

BRAC authority will hold a Doa & Milad Mahfil at its head office, BRAC Centre located at 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka on December 05, 2012 at 4.00pm for the eternal peace of the departed soul.

BRAC authority strongly condemns the untoward incident that took life of Dr. Sajia Afrin Eva and wants the real criminals to be brought under the law ensuring justice to the deceased.


18 September 2012, Dhaka. Twenty one trained women drivers received certificates from the Communication Minister, Obaidul Quader MP, on the occasion of “Promoting Women in Driving Profession” event held on September 18, 2012. This successful first batch of BRAC driving school has finished a rigorous eight weeks of residential driving training and is now ready to be employed.

Congratulating BRAC on this initiative, the minister said “These certified trained female drivers will face no problem in getting employment as Nitol Niloy group has already agreed to recruit them along with BRAC”. Director of BRAC Procurement, Estates and Management Services, Mr Ahmed Najmul Hussain, mentioned in his keynote presentation that research conducted by BRAC shows 42 percent of the drivers know the basic traffic regulations , whereas 41 percent actually follows them. Identifying the huge lack of properly trained drivers in the country he mentioned, “BRAC will train 400 instructors and 600 female drivers through this driving school project with the support of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA)”.

Additional Inspector General of Police, Mr Nazmul Haque, and Chairman of BRTA, Mr Md Ayubur Rahman Khan, was present at the event as special guests.  Group CFO of BRAC Mr Shib Narayan Kairy, and Senior Director Mr Asif Saleh spoke among others. The event was chaired by Managing Director of BRAC investments, Mr Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali.



14 November 2012, Dhaka. BRAC has partnered with Educate A Child (EAC), an initiative which was launched today by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the wife of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The initiative is to build 400 boats, and establish 500 schools for children from disadvantaged backgrounds living in the flood plains of the remote parts of Bangladesh by 2014. In addition, EAC will provide funds for 2,000 slum schools in urban areas. This announcement came during the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE), which is being held from Nov 13th-15th in Doha, Qatar.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, Asif Saleh, Senior Director, Strategy, Communication and Capacity, and Dr Safiqul Islam, Director Education, of BRAC were invited to participate at the summit.

Earlier, on October 22nd, Her Highness inaugurated a BRAC boat school in Derai, Shunamgonj, Bangladesh. Following the visit, she said “The children who still have no access to schooling are the hardest to reach, in the most persistently difficult situations of poverty, conflict, natural disaster or marginalisation. I recently visited education projects in…… the marshlands of Bangladesh, the combination of flooding and poverty make normal schooling almost impossible. Here, ‘floating schools’ serve a dual purpose – they act as a bus, collecting the children, and as a classroom, providing education. This solution is innovative and inspiring and the children I met were so happy to learn – an opportunity often denied to their parents."

Her Highness also serves as Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and has been listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most influential women for her special contribution in education and the development sector both, at both the national and international arena.

The high-impact, low-cost model of BRAC primary schools give disadvantaged students a second chance at learning. Through slum schools and boat schools, education is provided to children, particularly those affected by displacement, discrimination and extreme poverty in urban slum areas and seasonally submerged areas.



Wednesday, 07 November 2012 18:00

Wasfia Nazreen’s 2012 Vinson Massif Expedition


08 November 2012, Dhaka. A Flag-Off ceremony for “Wasfia Nazreen’s 2012 Vinson Massif Expedition” was held at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at the BRAC Centre Auditorium.

Wasfia Nazreen, the youngest Everest summiteer of the country is setting off to an expedition to climb Mount Vinson of Antarctica, the remotest continent on Earth, for the fourth leg of her “Bangladesh on Seven Summits” campaign. On the eve of Bangladesh turning 40, she had taken up the challenge of climbing the highest mountains of each of the seven continents to celebrate women’s progress of the last four decades and highlight to the world the resiliency of our people.

BRAC, bKash and BRAC Bank are the supporters of this expedition to the highest mountain of Antarctica. At the flag-off event, BRAC also announced its pledge to collaborate with Wasfia Nazreen by making her its Goodwill Ambassador for the next one year. In this one year, she will work to champion the cause of women empowerment and motivate, encourage and inspire the young women leaders of the country.

Tamim Iqbal, national cricket player and youth icon, hailing from Wasfia’s hometown Chittagong, attended the event as a special guest. Tamim lauded Wasfia’s pioneering feat and commended her courage for her upcoming risky journey. “I request our young generation to come out and do something for the nation and themselves” he stated.

Renowned social activist Ms. Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Nijera Kori, saluted Wasfia’s efforts to bring Bangladeshi women on the map. “Wasfia has created an example for all of us. Not just as a woman but also as a citizen of Bangladesh, conquering the seven summits is not an easy task”, said Kabir.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairperson of BRAC, and the Guest of Honour of the event said: “BRAC has been working for women empowerment since years and having Wasfia as a goodwill ambassador will further enhance our endeavours. Hopefully her successful venture will bring forward more people to support her in this incredible journey”.

Though Shakib Al Hassan could not make it to the event, he sent his best wishes for Wasfia. “It is a matter of pride to me that a Bangladeshi woman is pursuing such activities and I am confident that this will inspire our youth to take on “out of the box” challenges in any field of activities.”

Wasfia in her speech mentioned “If by finishing my seven summits I can create an impact to even 10 women’s life, I will consider myself successful”. She also expressed her humblest gratitude to her sponsors for supporting her.

Wasfia leaves the country this month to first spend three weeks of training and acclimatisation with Patrick Morrow, the first person in the world to have finished seven summits roughly 30 years ago, in winter wilderness of Canada, and then from there she will set her foot on Antarctica via the Chilean territory.

Updates on her journey will regularly be posted on Facebook and Twitter via both Bangladesh on Seven Summits & BRAC pages.


05 November 2012, London. On 24 October the University of Manchester honored Sir Fazle Hasan Abed with an accolade for his outstanding services in tackling poverty and empowering the poor in Bangladesh and globally through BRAC, the organisation he founded and leads.

In an address delivered on behalf of the honorary graduates, Sir Fazle said:

"Universities through the centuries have played an unmatched role in creating new knowledge, educating leaders and thinkers who shaped our societies, and spearheaded innovation and enterprise. This University [of Manchester], over the years, has encompassed a number of centres of excellence within its fold and has emerged as one of the largest in Europe. Frontier research to expand the horizon of human knowledge, as well as research and education in economic, social and behavioural sciences continue apace, so that human societies can find ways of living in peace with justice and equity, and in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.

The pivotal role of universities prompted BRAC to found BRAC University in Bangladesh in 2001. Although BRAC University is 188 years younger than THIS university, we share the same beliefs – that we need to train and educate a new generation of creative leaders that can challenge existing thinking and ideas, and build a sustainable future for our planet."

Sir Fazle’s visit to Manchester was hosted by Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) and Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI) in recognition of the more than 20 years knowledge creation partnership between the University of Manchester and BRAC. The partnership began in the 1990s with Professor David Hulme’s collaborative studies of BRAC’s development initiatives that led to its ground-breaking ultra-poor programme. BWPI and IDPM have close collaborations with BRAC University researching climate change and urban poverty and effective states and inclusive development.

University of Manchester also recognized Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall, renowned mathematician and former Lord Mayor of Manchester Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, Shoe repair firm founder John Timpson and president of the International Paralympics Committee Sir Philip Craven as outstanding individuals to receive the honorary degrees.


24 October 2012, Dhaka. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder of BRAC to speak at the next Cambridge Leadership Seminar.

Cambridge Judge Business School is pleased to welcome Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairman and Founder of BRAC, as speaker at the next Cambridge Leadership Seminar taking placeon Friday 26 October.

In his talk, Sir Fazle will address the role that social innovation plays in his organisation BRAC, which he established to alleviate poverty and empowerment of the poor and has now grown to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of scale and He will also look at why innovation is one of the most important challenges facing managers around the world and how in the current environment the idea of frugal or ‘Jugaad’ innovation has rapidly caught the attention of managers and leaders.

Sir Fazle will also talk about his role of social enterprises, one such innovation, which played a key role for the growth and sustainability of BRAC.

Having received numerous awards, including the D. Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), the Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), the PKSF Award for Lifetime Achievement in Social Development and Poverty Alleviation (2007), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), and UNICEF’s Maurice Pate Award (1992), Sir Fazle is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the ‘global greats’ and is a founding member of the Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship.

Commenting on Sir Fazle’s impending visit, Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Nehru Professor of Indian Business at Judge Business School, said: “Sir Fazle and BRAC, the organisation he founded and leads, are legends in the world of development and innovation. We are honoured and delighted to have him visit Cambridge Judge Business School and speak to our faculty and students as there is so much we can learn from him.”

View Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s profile:

06 October 2012, Madrid, Spain. On October 5, 2012 Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, one of the largest development NGOs, gave a lecture at IE School of Arts & Humanities, in which he analyzed the key issues in poverty alleviation. BRAC currently operates in 10 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, and its work touches the lives of an estimated 126 million people. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was joined by Arantza de Areilza, Dean of IE School of Arts & Humanities, and Javier Gila, President of the Asociación AIDA – Ayuda, Intercambio y Desarrollo.

In 1972, Bangladesh was the second poorest country in the world. Back then, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed created BRAC with the aim of improving people’s living standards and education. In order to do this, BRAC focused its work on marginalized groups, especially women, who, in the words of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, “tend to have fairly realistic outlook on situations”. As an example of best practices, BRAC promoted the intervention of experts by interviewing mothers in order to understand the reasons behind such a high mortality rate in Bangladesh. The findings concluded that most children died due to dehydration caused by diarrhea. BRAC also implemented a plan to promote ways to reduce the country’s high birth rates. To do so, it was crucial to know and understand the “beliefs, wishes, and thoughts” of the population, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed recalled.

In addition to reducing infant mortality and fostering ways to lower Bangladesh’s high birth rates, over the past decades, BRAC has also played an active role in the field of education, key factor in a country’s socioeconomic development. Moreover, BRAC runs one of the largest private school systems in the world, with over a million students. During his lecture at IE School of Arts & Humanities, Sir Hazle Hasan Abed pointed out that, “at BRAC schools, students learn to think”. BRAC has also established a joint program in Education and Leadership with Columbia University geared toward Bangladeshi government officials. Sir Abed likewise insisted in the importance of promoting community development, “empowering those in need so that they can find solutions to their own problems”.

Finally, BRAC has also established a financial institution focused on financing small and medium enterprises. BRAC Bank has grown to become the fifth largest bank in Bangladesh. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed closed his lecture by saying that, “to me business opportunities exist only if they entail improving, developing, or helping someone or something”.

04 September 2012, Dhaka. On Thursday, 16 August, the government of Sierra Leone declared the cholera outbreak a national humanitarian emergency. A presidential taskforce was established shortly after the declaration. As of 24 September, Sierra Leone has recorded over 14,000 cases and 240 deaths in 10 out of 13 districts.

BRAC has taken up various measures to ensure full assistance to the affected and distraught in Sierra Leone. In collaboration with the country's district health management teams (DHMT), we are providing the necessary support to disseminate cholera prevention messages through our network of 660 community health promoters (CHP) and 33 programme assistants in the Western area, Port Loko, Bombali, Tonkolili, Bo, Kenema, and Kono districts.

We are providing approximately SLL 43 million (USD 10,000) as cash grant for immediate emergency support and mobilising our human resources to provide the DHMTs with the following services:

  • Promoting and distributing oral rehydration solution (ORS) aqua tabs and disinfectants through the CHPs
  • Arranging regular health meetings in communities to influence behavioural change
  • Providing refreshers training on cholera preparedness to the CHPs who are assisting to disseminate cholera prevention messages
  • Providing DHMTs with necessary tools and supplies such as, IV ringers lactate, ORS, Doxacycline capsules, zinc and disinfectants

The DHMTs have requested for further assistance from BRAC in raising community awareness in distant chiefdoms to ensure a greater coverage.   

"In this critical time, we remain committed to doing our best to help the government of Sierra Leone contain the epidemic by mobilising both human and additional financial resources, and using our knowledge in dealing with communicable diseases through a community-based approach," said Faruque Ahmed, Senior Director of BRAC International.

BRAC started its operation in Sierra Leone in 2008, and has reached over 700,000 Sierra Leoneans with activities in microfinance, agriculture, livestock, poultry, health and legal services. We are a global leader in creating large-scale opportunities for the poor, touching the lives of an estimated 126 million people – a global movement bringing change to 10 countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
Help us address the humanitarian emergency in Sierra Leone by making a donation at

01 September 2012, Dhaka. A Lessons Learned Sharing Session on “Social Mobilization and Accountable Local Governance towards Creating MDG Unions” – a joint initiative of BRAC Community Empowerment Programme and The Hunger Project-Bangladesh, was held on Wednesday, 29th August 2012 at VIP Lounge, National Press Club, Dhaka.

Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, former Adviser of the Caretaker Government was the Chief Guest at the session. We were also honored to have Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation and Mr. Hasan Mazumdar, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation, as Special Guests, and Dr. Tofail Ahmed, Adviser, Local Governance, UNDP, Professor Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman, Ph.D, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka, and Ms. Shanaz Arefin, National Coordinator, Local Governance Project, SHARIQUE as Guest Speakers. Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, Global Vice President and Country Director, The Hunger Project-Bangladesh presented the keynote paper of the programme, while the session was inaugurated by Ms. Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment Programme and Integrated Development Programme, BRAC. The session was chaired by Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director, BRAC. Present at the occasion were nearly 200 participants, including Union Parishad representatives, project beneficiaries, representatives from government-nongovernment organizations, policy makers, journalists, and members of the civil society.

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