Through its years of struggle against chronic deprivation, hunger and injustice, Bangladesh has been home to many innovations in tackling poverty. BRAC, a development organisation founded by Fazle Hasan Abed in February 1972, soon after the liberation of Bangladesh, has acted as both the initiator and catalyst for many such innovations and change. Our initial focus was on assisting the refugees returning from India to their newly independent country. In 1973, we broadened our focus to long term sustainable poverty reduction. Over the course of our evolution, BRAC has established itself as a pioneer in recognising and tackling the different dimensions of poverty. Our unique, holistic approach to poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor encompasses a range of core programmes in economic and social development, health, education, and human rights and legal services. Today, BRAC is the largest southern NGO and employs more than 100,000 people, the majority of which are women, and reaches more than 110 million people with our development interventions in Asia and Africa.
BRAC believes that poverty must be tackled from a holistic viewpoint, transitioning individuals from being aid recipients to becoming empowered citizens in control of their own destinies. Over the years, BRAC has organised the isolated poor, learned to understand their needs, piloted, refined and scaled up practical ways to increase their access to resources, support their entrepreneurship, and empower them to become active agents of change. Women and girls have been the central analytical lens of BRAC''s anti-poverty approach, recognizing both their vulnerabilities but also their thirst for change.
Today in Bangladesh alone, BRAC works to combat poverty in 70,000 villages and 2000 slums, and reaches three quarters of the entire population with an integrated package of services for rural and urban communities. We employ more than 100,000 people - microfinance officers, teachers, health staff, and enterprise managers - to be on the very doorstep of the poorest families making our services accessible, relevant and adaptable. We have learned over time to find the poorest of the poor - those who are destitute and outside the reach of most NGOs - and help them rebuild their lives from scratch and achieve financial independence.