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BRAC
May 30, 2010

I have been involved with BRAC since 2007, first as a volunteer and then as a member of their Advisory Council. BRAC is an amazing institution and one that I believe truly represents the future of development. They touch nearly all aspects of development. From healthcare to agriculture to microfinance to education to women's issues, BRAC does it all and they do it well. As I think about BRAC in the context of other organizations, I think, "what if the World Bank merged with Berkshire Hathaway", famed investor, Warren Buffet's, company. A Goliath utterly devoted to alleviating poverty, but managed like the best of the global multinationals. I have personally visited BRAC’s operations in Uganda, Bangladesh and Liberia. I have seen their mega dairy and chic fashion stores in Dhaka (providing market linkages for the poor in general and microfinance clients in particular), poultry vaccination and model farm programs in Liberia and adolescent development programs in Uganda, among others. Seeing a woman proudly display the hair dryer for her salon business in Uganda that a BRAC loan enabled her to buy, watching families gather on poultry vaccination day in Liberia, touring the gleaming dairy in Dhaka that effectively creates the market linkages for BRAC borrowers, seeing a women proudly showing her rice plot which demonstrated the in-line planting method for rice all gave me a clearer picture of the good work BRAC does. The scale and breadth of their programs is truly stunning. They start small, think big and scale up. They fix what doesn't work and stop what can't work. Though BRAC's main activity is microfinance, it would be a mistake to classify them as such. Their expertise in education is so deep, governments often invite them in to help build school systems. Their experience in health is such that they are considered as partners for the largest healthcare NGOs. Indeed they were early pioneers in such critical interventions as Directly Observed Treatment or DOT for TB treatment as well as oral rehydration therapy, so critical for combatting water born diseases in children. When I think about BRAC's secret sauce, I can't help but think that a key ingredient is the Bangladeshis. How many western NGOs would be able to field experts with 20 years of experience, in disciplines as diverse as education, healthcare and agriculture and convince them to move to such tough neighborhoods as Sudan, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Liberia for months and years at a clip. No family, no gleaming white SUVs, no security detail, no fancy hotels. Just the passion to help leave the world a little better than they found it.

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I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have visited BRAC's operations in Bangladesh, Uganda and Liberia

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & I'm on BRAC's advisory council and have volunteered with them and visited their operations in Bangladesh, Uganda and Liberia.