FAZLE HASAN ABED

COUNTRY

Bangladesh

ORGANIZATION

BRAC

CAUSE

Social Enterprises

To many, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed is an enigma. Though born into a well-to-do traditional Bengali family, he is far from traditional. With a penchant for choosing the path less travelled, Abed1 studied naval architecture in the UK, read literature with E. M. Forster, and relishes music, opera and the arts.2

However, after witnessing firsthand the ravages that man-made and natural disasters wrought in his country, Abed’s life changed forever. He founded BRAC, which is, today, the largest NGO in the world. With 115,634 employees in 14 countries3 across the globe, BRAC works towards the sustainable alleviation of poverty through enterprise development, livelihood training, and the provision of education, health and legal services in Bangladesh and beyond.

Abed’s firm belief in the empowerment of the poor through enterprise has been a back-breaking business, but his endeavors have brought about long-lasting systemic change in the lives of the poorest of the poor.

BRIEF FACTS


SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED

1936

Born in Baniachong sub-district, Habiganj district, Bengal, British India (now Bangladesh), to Siddiq Hasan and Syeda Sufya Khatun

1954

Completed higher secondary education from Dhaka College Began studies in Naval Architecture at Glasgow University

1962

Qualified as a chartered management accountant; became a British Citizen. Joined Bramber Engineering Company Limited, London

1965

Joined Aircraft Marine Products (GB) Limited

1969

Returned to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) with a job at Shell Oil Company in Chittagong

1970

Founded Heartland Emergency Lifesaving Project (HELP) in response to the Bhola Cyclone disaster

1971 

Escaped to London in the wake of the Liberation War and lobbied for war victims

1972

Returned to Bangladesh to establish the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee (BRAC)

1974 

Kept the acronym BRAC, changed the organization’s name to the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee to better reflect its development work with the poor

2002

BRAC ventured outside Bangladesh. Registered BRAC as the first foreign nonprofit organization in Afghanistan

2009

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his outstanding efforts in eradicating poverty and empowerment of the poor around the world

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

BRAC

1990

Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award

1992

UNICEF Maurice Pate Award

2004

Gates Award for Global Health (recevied with Sir F H Abed)

2008

Conrad N Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Prize

2013

Ranked #1 in Global Journal’s Top 100 NGOs

2014

Global Justice Innovation Award

 
SIR FAZLE HASAN ABED

1980

Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership

2001

Olof Palme Prize

2004

Gates Award for Global Health

UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development

2007

Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award

2008

David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award

2009

Entrepreneur for the World Award for Social Entrepreneurship

Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)

2011

Inaugural WISE Prize for Education

2013

Central European University’s Open Society Prize

2014

Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal

Spanish Order of Civil Merit

2015

World Food Prize

1980

Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership

2001

Olof Palme Prize

2004

Gates Award for Global Health

UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development

2007

Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award

2008

David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award

2009

Entrepreneur for the World Award for Social Entrepreneurship

Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)

2011

Inaugural WISE Prize for Education

2013

Central European University’s Open Society Prize

2014

Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal

Spanish Order of Civil Merit

2015

World Food Prize

END NOTES

  1. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s family name is Hasan, but the pet name Abed that his parents gave to him at birth stuck. All his friends refer to him as Abed and it is the name registered in his passport. He has asked us to call him “Abed,” which we have done in the remainder of the chapter.
  1. This and several other anecdotes in this chapter have been adapted from the biography by Ian Smillie, Freedom from Want: The Remarkable Success Story of BRAC, the Global Grassroots Organization That’s Winning the Fight Against Poverty (Stirling, VA: Kumarian Press, 2009).
  1. The 14 countries that BRAC has offices in are: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Myanmar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Haiti, and the United States.