BRAC Is The Largest Global Anti-Poverty Organization, And It's A Secret

May 18, 2011 4:00 PM ET

Alice Korngold's Blog

Founded by former Shell Oil executive Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972, BRAC reaches 138 million of the poorest people in nine countries in Asia and Africa, and recently launched in Haiti. Its mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Its annual operating budget is half a billion dollars.

BRAC is one of the extraordinary organizations that is funded by the Omidyar Network (ON) and is participating in this week's Omidyar Network Executive Forum (ONEF). See my accompanying post on "Omidyar Network Executive Forum Convening World's Leading Social Entrepreneurs."   For an organization of such magnitude and impact, BRAC's brand is not commonly known.   BRAC's vision is a world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential. Its interventions aim to alleviate poverty on a large scale through economic and social programs. BRAC has created 8.5 million self-employment opportunities and made $5 billion in micro-loans to over 6 million borrowers. BRAC's schools graduated 3.8 million students from primary schools and 2.3 million from pre-primary schools, with nearly 1.8 million children currently enrolled in its 66,000 schools. You can read more here.   Originally known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee--now simply called BRAC--the organization was founded by Abed when he was overwhelmed by the sight of death and extreme poverty among refugees returning to Bangladesh after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. Abed left his corporate life, sold his London home to fund his project, and set up relief efforts in a remote area in northeastern Bangladesh. Next he raised funds from Oxfam to further advance the organization. Abed's work ultimately led him and BRAC to deal with the long-term task of improving living conditions of the rural poor. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to manage and control their own destiny.   For continuation, see here on Fast Company...   Korngold Consulting LLC assists corporations in building fully integrated, high-impact CSR strategies, including leadership development through nonprofit board service.  Korngold Consulting trains and places business executives on nonprofit boards, and consults to nonprofit boards and leaders to strengthen governance for financial and strategic success.