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BRAC logo.svg
  • Building Resources Across Communities
  • Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee
  • Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee
Formation 1972 (1972)
Founder Sir Fazlee Hassan Abed
Type Non-profit
Purpose International development
Headquarters Dhaka, Bangladesh
Key people
Sir Fazlee Hassan Abed, Chairperson
Revenue (2014)
Increase53,358,527,594 taka (US$684M)[1]
Expenses (2014) Decrease41,915,645,023 taka (US$537M)[1]
Staff (2014)

BRAC, an international development organisation based in Bangladesh, is the largest non-governmental development organisation in the world, in terms of number of employees as of September 2016.[3][4][5] Established by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh, BRAC is present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh as well as other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

BRAC employs over 100,000 people, roughly 70 percent of whom are women, reaching more than 126 million people.[6][non-primary source needed] The organisation is 70-80% self-funded through a number of social enterprises that include a dairy and food project, a chain of retail handicraft stores called Aarong, Seed and Agro, Chicken etc. BRAC has operations in 14 countries of the world.[6][non-primary source needed]


Sir Fazlé Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC

Known formerly as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee and then as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and now Building Resources Across Communities,[7] BRAC was initiated in 1972 by Sir Fazlé Hasan Abed at Shallah Upazillah in the district of Sunamganj as a small-scale relief and rehabilitation project to help returning war refugees after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.[8] In nine months, 14 thousand homes were rebuilt as part of the relief effort and several hundred boats were built for the fishermen. Medical centres were opened and other essential services were ensured.[9][non-primary source needed]

By 1974, BRAC had started providing micro credit and had started analysing the usefulness of credit inputs in the lives of the poor. Until the mid-1970s, BRAC concentrated on community development through village development programmes that included agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives, rural crafts, adult literacy, health and family planning, vocational training for women and construction of community centres. A Research and Evaluation Division (RED) was set up by Mushtaque Chowdhury in 1975 to analyse and evaluate its activities and provide direction for the organisation to evolve. In 1977, BRAC shifted from community development towards a more targeted approach by organising village groups called Village Organisations (VO). This approach targeted the poorest of the poor – the landless, small farmers, artisans, and vulnerable women. Those who own less than half an acre of land and survive by selling manual labor were regarded as BRAC's target group. That same year BRAC set up a commercial printing press to help finance its activities. The handicraft retail chain called Aarong, was established the following year.[citation needed]

In 1979, BRAC entered the health field by establishing a nationwide Oral Therapy Extension Programme (OTEP), a campaign to combat diarrhoea, the leading cause of the high child mortality rate in Bangladesh.[10][page needed] Non Formal Primary Education was started by BRAC in 1985.[citation needed]

In 1986, BRAC started its Rural Development Programme that incorporated four major activities – institution building including functional education and training, credit operation, income and employment generation and support service programmes.[citation needed] In 1991, the Women's Health Development program commenced. The following year BRAC established a Centre for Development Management (CDM) in Rajendrapur.[citation needed] Its Social Development, Human Rights and Legal Services programme was launched in 1996.[citation needed] In 1998, BRAC's Dairy and Food project was commissioned.[citation needed] BRAC launched an Information Technology Institute the following year.[citation needed] In 2001, BRAC established a university called BRAC University.


BRAC has done what few others have – they have achieved success on a massive scale, bringing life-saving health programs to millions of the world's poorest people. They remind us that even the most intractable health problems are solvable, and inspire us to match their success throughout the developing world.

Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Award, 2004

Economic development[edit]

Microfinance, introduced in 1974, is BRAC's oldest programme. It spans all districts of Bangladesh.[11][12] It provides collateral-free loans to mostly poor, landless, rural women, enabling them to generate income and improve their standards of living.[11][12] BRAC's microcredit program has funded over $1.9 billion in loans in its first 40 years.[citation needed] 95% of BRACs microloan customers are women.[1] According to BRAC, the repayment rate is over 98%.[13]

BRAC founded its retail outlet, Aarong (Bengali for "village fair") in 1978 to market and distribute products made by indigenous peoples. Aarong services about 65,000 artisans, and sells gold and silver jewelry, hand loom, leather crafts, etc.[citation needed]


BRAC is one of the largest NGOs involved in primary education in Bangladesh.[14] As of the end of 2012, it had more than 22,700 non-formal primary schools with a combined enrolment of 670,000 children.[13][non-primary source needed] Its schools constitute three-quarters of all NGO non-formal primary schools in the country.[14]

BRAC's education programme provides non-formal primary education to those left out of the formal education system, especially poor, rural, or disadvantaged children, and drop-outs.[1] Its schools are typically one room with one teacher and no more than 33 students. Core subjects include mathematics, social studies and English. The schools also offer extracurricular activities.[14] They incentivise schooling by providing food, allowing flexible learning hours, and conferring scholarships contingent on academic performance.[15]

Bangladesh has reduced the gap between male and female attendance in schools.[15] The improvement in female enrolment, which has largely been at the primary level, is in part attributable to BRAC.[14] Roughly 60% of the students in their schools are girls.[1]

Public health[edit]

BRAC started providing public healthcare in 1972 with an initial focus on curative care through paramedics and a self-financing health insurance scheme. The programme went on to offer integrated health care services.[citation needed]

A BRAC community health worker conducting a survey in the Korail slum, Bangladesh

BRAC's 2007 impact assessment of its North West Microfinance Expansion Project testified to increased awareness of legal issues, including those of marriage and divorce, among women participants in BRAC programs. Furthermore, women participants' self-confidence was boosted and incidence of domestic violence were found to have declined.[16] One of the most prominent forms of violence against women, acid throwing, has been decreasing by 15-20% annually since the enactment in 2002 of legislation specifically targeting acid violence.[17]

Disaster relief[edit]

BRAC conducted one of the largest NGO responses to Cyclone Sidr which hit vast areas of the south-western coast in Bangladesh in mid-November 2007.[citation needed] BRAC distributed emergency relief materials, including food and clothing, to over 900,000 survivors, provided medical care to over 60,000 victims and secured safe supplies of drinking water. BRAC is now focusing on long-term rehabilitation, which will include agriculture support, infrastructure reconstruction and livelihood regeneration.[18][non-primary source needed]

Partnership with the Nike Foundation[edit]

BRAC has a collaboration with Nike's Girl Effect campaign to launch a new program to reach out to teenagers in Uganda and Tanzania.[19][non-primary source needed]

Countries where BRAC operates[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "BRAC Bangladesh Annual Report 2014" (PDF). BRAC. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Partnership". BRAC. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "A creative response to the challenge for change". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "NGO founder: Sustainable Development Goals will work". Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "BRAC in business". The Economist. 18 February 2010. Called BRAC, it is by most measures the largest, fastest-growing non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the world 
  6. ^ a b "BRAC at a Glance". 
  7. ^ Abed, Fazle Hasan. "BRAC: Building Resources Across Communities, The Coproduction of Governance: Civil Society, the Government, and the Private Sector" (PDF). Government Innovators Network. Harvard University. Retrieved 8 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Fazle Hasan Abed". Creating Emerging Markets. Harvard Business School. 
  9. ^ Annual Report, 1990, BRAC
  10. ^ Chowdhury, A. M. Raza; Cash, Richard A. (1996). A Simple Solution: Teaching Millions to Treat Diarrhoea at Home. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press. ISBN 9840513419. 
  11. ^ a b "Microfinance". BRAC. Archived from the original on 25 June 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Barber, Ben (May 2002). "No Free Lunch". World & I. 17 (5) – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ a b "BRAC at a Glance" (PDF). BRAC. December 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c d Ardt, Kalene; Hastings, Chas; Hopkins, Katie; Knebel, Robin; Loh, Jun; Woods, Rodney (2005). "Report on Primary Education in Bangladesh: Challenges and Successes" (PDF). Rethinking International Health. Stanford University School of Medicine. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Gender Differences". Education in Bangladesh, a Dawson College term paper. Archived from the original on 24 August 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Rogers, Cate; O'Farrell, Sue-Ellen (October 2008). "Microfinance, gender and aid effectiveness" (PDF). AusAID Office of Development Effectiveness. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  17. ^ Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, and the New York City Bar Association (2011). "Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia" (PDF). Cornell Law School. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  18. ^ Annual Report, 2007
  19. ^ "Nike Foundation and Buffetts join to invest $100 million in girls" (PDF) (Press release). Nike Foundation. 28 May 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Banu, Dilruba, Fehmin Farashuddin, Altaf Hossain, and Shahnuj Akter. "Empowering Women in Rural Bangladesh: Impact of Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee's Impact." (n.d.): n. pag. BRAC. Web.
  • Rohde, J. E. "BRAC- Learning To Reach Health For All." Bulletin Of The World Health Organization 84.8 (2006): 682-83. Web.
  • "World Winners From WISE." Education Journal 130 (2011): 32. Web.
  • Smillie, Ian. Freedom From Want: The Remarkable Success Story of BRAC, the Global Grassroots Organization That's Winning the Fight Against Poverty, 2009.
  • Chowdhury, M. Jahangir Alam; Ghosh, Dipak; Wright, Robert E. The impact of micro-credit on poverty: evidence from Bangladesh, 2005.
  • Lovell, Catherine. Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: The BRAC Strategy, 1992.
  • Is Bigger Better?, Forbes.
  • Creating Emerging Markets Project, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
  • Tran, Mark (13 February 2012). "Brac programme lifting 'ultra-poor' out of poverty in Bangladesh". Poverty Matters Blog. The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 

External links[edit]