Fazle Hasan Abed

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Fazle Hasan Abed

ফজলে হাসান আবেদ
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed receives Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal.jpg
Abed receiving the Thomas Francis Jr Medal from the University of Michigan (April 2016)
Born(1936-04-27)27 April 1936
Died20 December 2019(2019-12-20) (aged 83)[1]
EducationNaval Architecture
Alma materDhaka College
University of Glasgow
OccupationFounder, BRAC
Known forFounder of BRAC

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG (27 April 1936 – 20 December 2019) was the founder of BRAC, one of the world's largest non-governmental organizations.

Sir Fazle was honored with numerous national and international awards for his contributions in social development, including the LEGO Prize (2018), Laudato Si' Award (2017), Thomas Francis, Jr Medal in Global Public Health (2016), World Food Prize (2015), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal (2014), WISE Prize for Education (2011) among others.

In both 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine's List of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders. He was also recognized by Ashoka as one of the 'global greats' and was a founding member of its Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2010 New Year Honours for services in tackling poverty and empowering the poor in Bangladesh and globally.[2]

The many honorary degrees he received include those from Princeton University (2014), the University of Oxford (2009), Columbia University (2008) and Yale University (2007).

In an interview for the Creating Emerging Markets project at the Harvard Business School, Abed revealed his strong belief that businesses can positively impact society, that "you can do good also by doing business."[5][6]

In August 2019, Abed retired as the chairperson of BRAC Bangladesh and BRAC International, and took on the position of the Chair Emeritus. [7]

Early life[edit]

After passing intermediate from Dhaka College in 1954, Abed left home at the age of 18 to attend University of Glasgow, where, in an effort to break away from tradition and do something radically different, he studied naval architecture. He realized there was little work in ship building in East Pakistan and a career in Naval Architecture would make returning home difficult. With that in mind, Abed joined the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in London, completing his professional education in 1962.

Abed returned to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to join Shell Oil Company and quickly rose to head its finance division. His time at Shell exposed Abed to the inner workings of a large conglomerate and provided him with insight into corporate management, which would become invaluable to him later in life.

It was during his time at Shell that the devastating cyclone of 1970 hit the south and south-eastern coastal regions of the country, killing 300,000 people. The cyclone had a profound effect on Abed. In the face of such devastation, he said the comforts and perks of a corporate executive's life ceased to have any attraction for him. Together with friends, Abed created HELP, an organisation that provided relief and rehabilitation to the worst affected in the island of Manpura, which had lost three-quarters of its population in the disaster.

Soon after, Bangladesh's own struggle for independence from Pakistan began and circumstances forced Abed to leave the country. He found refuge in the United Kingdom, where he set up Action Bangladesh to lobby the governments of Europe for his country's independence.

Formation of BRAC[edit]

When the war ended in December 1971, Abed sold his flat in London and returned to the newly independent Bangladesh to find his country in ruins. In addition, hundreds of refugees who had sought shelter in India during the war had started to return home. Their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts, and Abed decided to use the funds he had generated from selling his flat to initiate his own such organisation to deal with the long-term task of improving the living conditions of the rural poor. He selected the remote region of Sulla in northeastern Bangladesh to start his work, and this work led to the non-governmental organisation known as BRAC in 1972.[3]

Although the name 'BRAC' does not represent an acronym, the organisation was formerly known as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee and then as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.

In a span of only three decades, BRAC has grown to become one of the largest development organisations in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions. As BRAC grew, Abed ensured that it continued to target the landless poor, particularly women, a large percentage of whom live below the poverty line with little or no access to resources or conventional development efforts.

BRAC now operates in all 64 districts of Bangladesh through development interventions that range from education, healthcare, microfinance, skills, human rights, agriculture and enterprise development. It is now considered the largest non-profit in the world – both by employees and people served.

In 2002, BRAC went international by taking its range of development interventions to Afghanistan. Since then, BRAC has expanded to a total of 10 countries across Asia and Africa, successfully adapting its unique integrated development model across varying geographic and socioeconomic contexts.

Professional positions[edit]

Abed held the following positions:[4]

  • 1972-2001 Executive Director, BRAC
  • 1981–82 Visiting Scholar, Harvard Institute of International Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1982–86 Senior Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
  • 1982–86 Member, Board of Trustees, BIDS.
  • 1982–86 Chairperson, Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB).
  • 1986–91 Member, World Bank NGO Committee, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 1987–90 Chairperson, South Asia Partnership.
  • 1987–90 Member, International Commission on Health Research for Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • 1990–2009 – Chairperson, 'Campaign for Popular Education' (CAMPE), an NGO network on education.
  • 1992–93 Member, Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation
  • 1992–2009 – Chairperson, NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation
  • 1993–2011 – Chairperson, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a human rights organisation
  • 1994–2019 – Member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka
  • 1998–2004 Member, Board of Governors, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, UK
  • 1998–2005 – Member, Policy Advisory Group, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), The World Bank, Washington, DC.
  • 1999–2005 – Member, Board of Governors, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Banos, Philippines.
  • 2000–2005 – Chair, Finance & Audit Committee, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Banos, Philippines.
  • 2000–2019 – Chairperson, Governing Body, BRAC.
  • 2001–2008 – Chairperson, Board of Directors, BRAC Bank Limited.
  • 2001–2019 – Chairperson, Board of Trustees, BRAC University.
  • 2002–2008 – Global Chairperson, International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions (INAFI) International.
  • 2005–2019 – Commissioner, UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP)
  • 2010–2011 – UN Secretary General's Group of Eminent Persons for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
  • 2012–2019 – Member, UN Secretary General's Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement
  • 2013–2019 – Chairperson, Board of Directors, BRAC Bank Limited.
  • 2015–2019 - Chairperson, Advisory Board, Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements.[5]


Honorary degrees[edit]


He was admitted to the hospital in late November, 2019 on account of breathing problems and physical weakness. He died at the Apollo Hospital (now Evercare Hospital Dhaka) in the capital on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 08:28 pm. He was undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor. [14] At the time of his death, he was 83 years old. He is survived by a wife, a daughter, a son and three grandchildren.[15][16]


  1. ^ "Sir Fazle Hasan Abed passes away". The Daily Star. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  2. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009.
  3. ^ Fazle Hasan Abed. pbs.org
  4. ^ ":: People at BRAC – Founder and Chairperson ::". BRAC. Retrieved 8 June 2006.
  5. ^ "Fazle Hasan Abed (1936-2019)".
  6. ^ "Press Release: President Clinton Honors Four Extraordinary Individuals at Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Awards". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Sir Fazle Hasan Abed honoured with Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal". BRAC. 2 June 2014. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Brac's Sir Fazle Hasan Abed wins 2015 World Food prize for reducing poverty". The Guardian. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  9. ^ "President to award global health medal April 6 to BRAC founder". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Jose Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award 2016 (South Asian Region)". Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Laudato Si' Award (Institution Category)". Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  12. ^ "LEGO Prize". Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Sir Fazle awarded Yidan Prize". The Daily Star. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  14. ^ "A LIGHT HAS GONE OUT". The Daily Star. 20 December 2019.
  15. ^ "Brac founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed passes away". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  16. ^ McVeigh, Karen (7 January 2020). "Sir Fazle Hasan Abed obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 January 2020.