SAI Mahindra Lecture
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Founder and Chairperson of BRAC
Introduction: Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; International Coordinator of the global research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing
Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He was educated both at Dhaka and Glasgow universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil, when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s war of independence. There, he helped initiate a fundraising and awareness campaign called Help Bangladesh.
When the war was over, he returned to the newly independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started returning to the country and their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. It was then that he established BRAC to rehabilitate the returning refugees in a remote area in north-eastern Bangladesh. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to better manage their lives. Thus, BRAC’s primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under his leadership, in the span of only four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.
Reception to follow.