I’m a US businessman who contributes time, money, and effort to BRAC because I believe it is the most effective Non-Government Organization operating in the developing world. In the past three years I have been a BRAC volunteer in Uganda, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. BRAC builds business from the ground up, hiring mostly local women. For many of these women, a position with BRAC is the best, if not only, salaried job they have ever had. What I like most about BRAC is standardization. BRAC doesn’t accept local limitations or excuses for inactivity. Their poverty reduction programs in micro-finance, health, agriculture, and education have been honed in Bangladesh for decades. When BRAC enters a new country it applies proven templates with little variation. Inexperienced women are hired, trained to execute the BRAC program, carefully supervised, and held accountable for results. The outcomes are truly astounding and encouraging, particularly given the poor track record of other NGO’s and government programs in the developing world. BRAC entered Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban in 2002 and now operates in virtually every province. With programs in Health, Education, Micro-finance, National Solidarity, and Training, BRAC is currently the pre-eminent NGO in Afghanistan. BRAC came to Sri Lanka to provide emergency aid and economic relief to the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami of December 2004. Today BRAC is one of the leading micro-finance lenders to women in the country, operating with a local staff of 100% female managers. In Uganda, the results have been remarkable. When the first BRAC employee arrived from Bangladesh in 2006 there were over 100 Micro-Finance Institutions active in the country. Today, BRAC is among the top five MFI’s in Uganda, employing thousands of local women as credit officers, branch managers, and regional managers making un-collateralized micro-loans to poor women. BRAC Uganda has reinvested proceeds from micro-lending to expand into health, education, agriculture, and female adolescent programs. After setting up shop in Uganda, BRAC expanded across Africa to Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and possibly other countries. BRAC moves so fast, it’s hard for me to keep up. Although I volunteer for BRAC because I believe they leverage my effort more effectively than any other NGO, the real reason I keep coming back is the women I meet as a BRAC volunteer. Honest, hard working women like Regina in Uganda (http://drewkinder.blogspot.com/2008/01/regina.html), Shaimais in Afghanistan (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/shaimais-in-afghanistan), and Champika in Sri Lanka (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/its-all-about-progress) prove to me that there is hope for poverty alleviation in the most difficult locations. It all begins with BRAC and the noble women they empower to make a real difference.
"There were times when I didn’t even have enough rice to cook one full meal a day. Now that I am a part of BRAC, I can cook three meals or more a day for me and my nine children. That is why I am happy now.” - Robia Khatun “Wherever I go now, people pay attention to me and take what I have to say seriously.” -Anita Rani Dash “BRAC people came to us and everyone in our village to see what we’d lost and what we needed. They gave us rice and other food. If they hadn’t, we might have died from hunger.” - Fatema, Cyclone Sidr survivor “I did not have a job before joining BRAC. Now I am a Health Worker with BRAC in Sahiwal. I joined BRAC to give service to humanity.” – Nasreen