BRAC, based in Bangladesh, is (as of May 2010) the world’s largest non-governmental development organization. Established by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 soon after the independence of Bangladesh, BRAC is present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh, with over 7 million microfinance group members, 37,500 non-formal primary schools and more than 70,000 health volunteers. BRAC is the largest NGO by number of staff employing over 120,000 people, the majority of whom are women. BRAC operates programs such as those in microfinance and education in nine countries across Asia and Africa, reaching more than 110 million people.
The organization is 80% self-funded through a number of commercial enterprises that include a dairy and food project and a chain of retail handicraft stores called Aarong. BRAC maintains offices in 14 countries throughout the world, including BRAC USA and BRAC UK. BRAC is a few years into their initiative to operate in ten African countries in the next ten years.
BRAC has organized the isolated poor and learned to understand their needs by finding practical ways to increase their access to resources, support their entrepreneurship and empower them to become agents of change. Women and girls have been the focus of BRAC’s anti-poverty approach; BRAC recognizes both their vulnerabilities and thirst for change.
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