Sir Fazle Hasan Abed delivers the Mahindra Lecture
“Hope is an element in which people take action, and energize themselves out of poverty,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, at the South Asia Institute Annual Harish C. Mahindra lecture on April 24, 2014 at the Charles Hotel. BRAC is the world’s largest NGO dedicated to development and fighting poverty, and Abed’s lecture provided the 150 attendees with an enlightening account of the extraordinary accomplishments of the global organization.
Abed was introduced by Martha Chen, Harvard Kennedy School, who explained that BRAC is the only NGO from a developing country that has “gone truly global,” with a presence in 12 countries in Asia and Africa. With a goal of alleviating poverty, BRAC delivers microfinance, health, education, agriculture and livestock services based on an integrated approach that proved to be a success story in Bangladesh.
Born and raised in Bangladesh, Abed was working as an accountant when the 1971 Liberation War broke out and deeply impacted his future. After advocating for his home country in London, he returned to Bangladesh after liberation, and launched relief and rehabilitation efforts for refugees. He founded BRAC with the goal of alleviating poverty by helping the poor develop capacity to manage their lives. This model has been successfully implemented in other developing countries around the world.
Chen explained that it was Abed’s corporate management background that was crucial to this strategy’s success; Abed’s ability to analyze and develop models that can then be then replicated on larger scales was essential in expanding BRAC’s work outside of Bangladesh. Moreover, Chen said Abed’s moral compass “keeps him focused on the poor and disadvantaged” and has been the driving force in BRAC’s growth over the last four decades.
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