BRAC: History, Graduation Model, and Activities

What is BRAC?

BRAC is a Bangladesh-based international development organization. BRAC was subsequently registered with the Government of Bangladesh's NGO Affairs Bureau in order to receive foreign donations. As of September 2016, BRAC is the world's largest non-governmental development organization in terms of employee count. BRAC was founded in 1972 following Bangladesh's independence by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and operates in all 64 districts of the country as well as 11 other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.


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BRAC reports that it employs over 90,000 people, roughly 70% of whom are women, and that its services benefit over 126 million people. The organization is partially self-sustaining through a variety of social enterprises, including a dairy and food project, a chain of retail handicraft stores called Aarong, seed and Agro[clarification needed], and chicken. BRAC operates in 12 countries worldwide.

Read: NGOs in Bangladesh

Read: NGOs Functions in Promoting Human Rights in Bangladesh

Read: NGOs Initiatives in Poverty Alleviation in Bangladesh

Read: Role of GOs and NGOs in Disaster Management

Vision: A world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential.

Mission: To empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, a decreased social justice. Our interventions aim to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable women and men to realize their potential.

Values of BRAC





Objectives of BRAC

BRAC has done what few others have – they have achieved success on a massive scale, bringing life-saving health programs to millions of the world's poorest people. They remind us that even the most intractable health problems are solvable, and inspire us to match their success throughout the developing world.

History of BRAC

BRAC was founded in 1972 by Sir Fazlé Hasan Abed at Shallah Upazillah in the district of Sunamganj as a small-scale relief and rehabilitation project to assist returning war refugees following the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. 14 thousand homes and several hundred fishing boats had to be rebuilt as part of the relief effort; BRAC claims to have accomplished this in nine months, in addition to opening medical centers and providing other essential services.

BRAC focused on community development until the mid-1970s through village development programs that included agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives, rural crafts, adult literacy, health and family planning, vocational training for women, and the construction of community centers. BRAC established a Research and Evaluation Division (RED) to assess its activities and make strategic decisions, and in 1977, it began taking a more targeted approach by establishing Village Organizations (VO) to assist landless people, small farmers, artisans, and vulnerable women. That same year, BRAC established a commercial printing press to assist in financing its operations. Aarong, a chain of handicraft retailers, was founded the following year.

Diarrhoea was a leading cause of child mortality in Bangladesh in the late 1970s. In February 1979, BRAC began a field trial of a diarrhoea campaign in two villages in what was then Sulla thana. They expanded the operation the following year, renaming it the Oral Therapy Extension Programme (OTEP). It taught rural mothers how to make an oral rehydration solution (ORS) from readily available ingredients and how to use it to treat diarrhoea in the comfort of their own homes. Posters, radio and television spots were used to reinforce the training.

The ten-year program educated 12 million households spread across 75,000 villages throughout Bangladesh, with the exception of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (which were unsafe to work in because of civil unrest). After fifteen years of instruction, the vast majority of mothers were still capable of preparing a safe and effective ORS. When OTEP began, it was little known in Bangladesh, but 15 years later, it was used in rural households more than 80% of the time for severe diarrhoea, one of the highest rates in the world.

BRAC initiated non-formal primary education in 1985.

BRAC began its Rural Development Programme in 1986, which consisted of four major activities: institution building, which included functional education and training, credit operations, income and employment generation, and support service programs.

The Women's Health Development program began in 1991. BRAC established a Centre for Development Management (CDM) in Rajendrapur the following year.

In 1996, it launched its Social Development, Human Rights, and Legal Services program.

BRAC's Dairy and Food project was launched in 1998.

The following year, BRAC established an Information Technology Institute.

BRAC established BRAC University in 2001.


BRAC Graduation Model to Socio-Economic Development of Poor

An Implementation Guide to the Ultra-Poor Graduation Approach is a product of the depth of knowledge and experiences gleaned from countless BRAC programme staff, partner organisations and peer institutions from around the world. This Toolkit would not have been possible without their unflagging commitment to serving the ultra-poor and other vulnerable populations globally.

Evolution of the Graduation Model/Approach

Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC’s work touches the lives of an estimated 135 million people. With decades of successful programming at scale across microfinance, health, water and sanitation, education and livelihoods BRAC realised that its interventions often failed to reach the ultra-poor and address the worst forms of poverty. 

To address the needs of the poorest, in 1985 BRAC started the Income Generation for Vulnerable Group Development (IGVGD) programme with the World Food Programme (WFP), an extension of WFP’s vulnerable group feeding programme. Recognising that direct food transfer was insufficient to put households on a trajectory out of poverty, the IGVGD programme provided additional skills training on income generation and financial services. As a result, IGVGD beneficiaries were able to attain an increase in income higher than the number of food subsidies they received. However, IGVGD beneficiaries could not sustain all the gains that they had made during the intervention period. Participants had low aspirations, dependence on food aid and lacked confidence in skills acquired through training. 

Based on lessons learned from IGVGD, in 2002 BRAC launched a new programme: Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction-Targeting the UltraPoor Programme (CFPR-TUP or TUP). The programme’s approach, now commonly referred to as “Ultra-Poor Graduation” or the “Graduation approach,” utilises a set of carefully sequenced interventions tailored to the unique set of challenges faced by the ultra-poor.


Reaching The Poorest: BRAC’s Approach In Bangladesh 

One of the world’s largest nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), BRAC works in 70,000 rural villages and 2,000 urban slums in Bangladesh. BRAC has always had a strong focus on poverty— providing microfinance, schooling, healthcare, legal services, and marketing facilities. But in the 1980s, BRAC realized that its microfinance programs were not reaching many of the poorest. In 1985, BRAC partnered with the Government of Bangladesh and the World Food Program to add a graduation ladder to an existing national safety net program that was providing the poorest households with a monthly allocation of food grain for a two-year period. BRAC worked with these beneficiaries and added skills training, mandatory savings, and small loans to accelerate livelihoods development. In less than 20 years, the program reached 2.2 million households. In 2002, BRAC fine-tuned its approach both through better identification of the ultrapoor (defined as people who spend 80 percent of their total expenditure on food and cannot attain 80 percent of their standard calorie needs) and through a more intensive sequenced set of inputs. By 2010, BRAC had reached around 300,000 ultra-poor households with this new approach termed “Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction/ Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR/TUP). BRAC estimates that over 75 percent of these households are currently food secure and managing sustainable economic activities

What Does “Graduation” Mean?

 The graduation model is structured around the careful sequencing of five core building blocks, with “graduation” out of extreme poverty and into sustainable livelihoods as the end goal. Achieving this goal typically takes between 18 and 36 months. While the overarching goal of graduation is common across all pilots—exit from extreme poverty— measurement criteria differ. Each pilot sets its own context-driven indicators for graduation since the faces of poverty vary in different sites. 

The five completed pilots incorporated some of the following elements in their graduation criteria: food security stabilized and diversified income, increased assets (including savings), improved access to healthcare, increased self-confidence and a plan for the future. Put together, these criteria attempt to assess not only the status of an individual at a specific point in time but also that person’s potential resilience to shocks and vulnerabilities. After all, the ultimate goal is not a short-term escape from extreme poverty due to the program investments themselves, but rather to provide the tools, livelihoods, and peace of mind for participants to sustain themselves after the program is over. 

The Graduation Program recognizes that not all participants want to take on credit. However, financial services do have a role in participants’ trajectories beyond graduation. Continuing to save after the end of the program can help participants protect assets and accumulate money for future investments or emergencies. In some cases, participants choose to borrow to expand their activities or start new enterprises. A shared goal across pilots is that by the end of the program, members are creditworthy and in a position where they can access credit if they want to.

Who are the Poorest? 

The pilots’ experience with targeting confirms that poverty indicators depend on local context. For example, food insecurity seems to be a solid indication of poverty in Ethiopia and Haiti, but in Peru, the poorest are relatively food secure, so social and geographic isolation count more. Lack of access to productive land is a reasonable indicator of poverty in South Asia, but not in Ghana where villagers can farm communal land. The absence of productive assets is often a key indicator of poverty, but it is not always easy to differentiate between actual ownership of an asset and leasing or borrowing. Strict adoption of national poverty indicators can be misleading. Bringing in local knowledge helps reach a more nuanced and relevant understanding of what constitutes extreme poverty within a community.


Who Is ‘Ultra-Poor’?

Definitions of “ultra-poor” include those who are living at less than half the $1.25-a-day poverty line and those who eat below 80% of their energy requirements despite spending at least 80% of their income on food.

The majority tend to be landless rural women. They are the most vulnerable, lacking the skills, confidence, and future orientation needed to lift themselves to the bottom rung of the economic ladder. 

In Bangladesh, BRAC uses 10 indicators to determine whether a household has “graduated” from ultra-poverty. These include having three to four income sources, and ability to eat two meals a day, a kitchen garden, shortand medium-term income generating assets such as livestock or poultry, a sanitary latrine, a solid roof, and school-going children.

According to a 2007 report from International Food Policy Research Institute based on 2004 data, about 162 million people live in ultra-poverty, defined as living on less than 50 cents a day, with an additional 323 million living in “medial poverty,” defined as living on between 50 and 75 cents a day.

According to the World Bank, in 2012, 1.2 billion people lived on less than $1.90 USD/ day, in conditions of extreme poverty. Hashemi and Wamiq Umaira note that within the ranks of the poor, there are those at the very bottom who are significantly more resource constrained and who are unable to meet even the most basic consumption levels. Known as the “ultra poor,” these populations are chronically food insecure and more vulnerable to health shocks and natural calamities than any other group. 

Characteristics of Ultra-Poor 

Their lives remain largely unaffected by the economic policies that have created growth and prosperity for the middle class. 

They remain socially marginalised and are often geographically isolated, in hard to reach areas. 

Many live in female-headed households or are physically unable to work for a living. 

They often have little positive connection to their neighbours and remain beyond the reach of government schemes and services. 

Their demeanour and attitude often reflect a lack of hope for the future and confidence in themselves.

Largely disengaged with markets, the poorest of the poor are often not covered by social protection programming or the efforts of local or international NGOs. Even when they are, it is unlikely that they will secure sustainable livelihoods that can provide food security and basic levels of consumption beyond the duration of those programmes. 

The population that is considered ultra poor depends on the local context. The CGAP-Ford Foundation pilots showed, for example, that food insecurity seems to be a solid indication of poverty in Ethiopia and Haiti, but in Peru, the poorest are relatively food secure, so social and geographic isolation count more. Lack of access to productive land is a reasonable indicator of poverty in South Asia, but not in Ghana where villagers can farm communal land. The absence of productive assets is often a key indicator of poverty, but it is not always easy to differentiate between actual ownership of an asset and leasing or borrowing.

The multidimensional and nuanced problems of the ultra poor—food insecurity, poor health, social stigma, limited skills, assets or savings— require an approach that is comprehensive, long-term and substantive enough to empower the ultra poor to engage with markets and their own communities and graduate from extreme poverty.

The Ultra-Poor Graduation approach is a comprehensive, time-bound and sequenced set of interventions that aim to graduate people from ultra poverty to sustainable livelihoods. 

The interventions include regular life skills training and home visits, technical skills training, asset transfers, enterprise development, consumption stipends, financial literacy and savings, health care and social integration. Working together, these interdependent interventions lead to strong outcomes at the household level including increased or improved assets, food security, savings and financial inclusion, health outcomes, social integration and productive skills. Pioneered by BRAC’s TUP programme, the Graduation Approach has been scaled in Bangladesh, where BRAC has graduated 1.6 million households since 2002.


Two variations of the BRAC Graduation Model

1. Specially Targeted Ultra-Poor (STUP): The most destitute ultra poor, who lack access to any productive assets or safety nets, are targeted with the Special Investment Programme, which includes physical productive assets (for instance a cow and 10 chickens), life skills and technical skills training, a weekly stipend, regular home visits, tailor-made health care and community support. 

2. The Other Targeted Ultra-Poor (OTUP): Participants who are considered marginally less deprived than the STUP, but still firmly among the ultra-poor, receive a soft loan for the equivalent of the major portion of the asset required to start their enterprise. For instance, if the household were set to receive the same asset package, a cow and 10 chickens, they would receive the 10 chickens in-kind to jump-start short-term income, and a soft loan to acquire the cow. This credit-based approach is designed with flexible terms and conditions such as smaller size loans and a grace period for repaying the loans. OTUP participants are also recipients of the other components of the programme, such as life skills and technical skills training, weekly stipend, regular home visits, tailor-made health care and community support.

The criteria that BRAC uses in Bangladesh to determine which participants qualify for STUP or OTUP programmes are illustrated on the following page. It is important to carefully segment the population using locally relevant inclusion and exclusion criteria to identify which participants are unable to engage with a livelihood short of receiving a physical grant, and who, with the right hands-on approach, may be equipped to repay a soft loan in time. It is also important to clarify to community members why two approaches are used. 

For BRAC, the OTUP model is an avenue to reach greater numbers of ultra-poor and a way for BRAC to build a bridge between participants and BRAC’s well-established microfinance offerings. Soft loans in the OTUP programme are administered through.

BRAC’s microfinance programmes, resulting in participants’ early familiarity and comfort with microfinance. Although BRAC has served a majority of its ultra-poor clients through its soft loan variation (OTUP), it strongly advocates for the need to maintain STUP programming. BRAC’s experience is that if participant selection is rigorous, there will still be participants who will not be able to repay a loan, where only grants will succeed in kick-starting enterprises and helping them transition out of extreme poverty.

How does the 'Graduation Approach' work?

Successful Graduation programmes are cognisant of the multidimensional nature of poverty and insecurity that the ultra poor face, and present a composite set of carefully sequenced interventions that address these multiple dimensions of poverty. The approach simultaneously focuses on enhancing the household’s financial capital, skills and social capital. Careful piloting, problem solving, impact assessing and lesson learning increases cost-effectiveness, programme impacts and the likelihood of achieving scaled up operations.

Graduation interventions are delivered within a specified time frame, one that is long-term enough to seed sustainable progress at the household level while short-term enough to limit dependence.

Graduation programmes may differ in the specific components offered (for example, some may not offer health support or social integration). Local contexts will ultimately determine the precise composition of each component, programme duration and other specifics. What follows is a general overview of the steps followed in BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra-Poor programme.


Steps in BRAC Graduation Model/ApproachaT

Targetting/Participant Selection

The success of the approach is strongly dependent on careful participant selection to ensure that the most vulnerable in any community are selected. Generally, a triangulation of different methods (participatory wealth ranking, means testing and home visits) is used to reduce inclusion errors (better-off households getting included) and exclusion errors (ultra-poor households getting excluded). Some engagement of the community in the selection process is ideal, as it helps to build buy-in and understanding of the approach by more well off neighbours.

Enterprise Selection

The selection of viable economic activities for ultra-poor households is critical to a household’s success in increasing income levels. The chosen livelihoods must be economically viable and varied to ensure participants are not in competition with one another, or in danger of saturating fledgling local markets. Careful market studies and value chain analyses limit risks and ensure steady earnings as well as future expanded economic opportunities.

Productive Assets to start an enterprise

Once a menu of viable enterprises has been established, Graduation programmes ensure that participant households have the means to kick-start these enterprises. In Graduation programmes, doing so is accomplished through the following means:

a) Grants of productive assets: The most vulnerable poor households often need a one-time grant to kick-start their economic enterprises. While small in value (to reduce possibilities of elite capture), these represent a significant investment for participant households, often beyond what they could have saved over the long term to acquire for themselves.

b) Cash transfers for productive assets: Rather than physically procuring and distributing assets to participants, some Graduation programmes transfer asset-equivalent value in cash to households. Whether this cash is effectively utilised to purchase the assets required for the new enterprise often correlates to the effectiveness of the programme’s training and hands-on coaching component.

c) Soft loans for productive assets: If vulnerable households are not destitute and possess some basic capacities or productive assets, new enterprise activity can be jump-started through soft loans. For BRAC, this approach was possible due to years of extending microfinance offerings and resulting familiarity with the profile of clients who fell just outside the reach of traditional microfinance and required loans on softer terms. It is important to note that the CGAP-Ford Foundation pilots concern only the productive asset-based approach (STUP) and not the soft loan approach (OTUP) variation of Graduation.

Consumption Support

This component of the Graduation approach acts as a basic safety net provisioning for the household, since the first condition for survival and taking on new economic activities is ensuring that the food deficit gap is met. The Graduation approach therefore provides a minimum level of consumption support for a time-bound period so that ultra-poor households have some degree of smoothened consumption until incomes from the new economic activities start kicking-in.

Home Visits/Life Skill Coaching

Participants receive programme-long handholding in the form of household visits. The home visits are often the first regular, supportive point of contact that participant households enjoy from anyone outside of the immediate family. These weekly interactions signal to the household and the surrounding community that someone does indeed care about the progress and well being of participants. In BRAC’s Graduation programme, life skills coaching includes basic cash flow management guidance, messaging on social issues, helping participants learn to write and sign their names, psychosocial counselling and continuous encouragement and support of participants.

Technical Skill Training

In conjunction with the life skills coaching, participants receive highly focused in-classroom training and refresher sessions based on how to manage their transferred assets and operate a successful business. Lessons may also include financial literacy and numeracy, business planning and management, basic business skills to promote employment readiness and vocational and entrepreneurship training for both youth and urban ultra poor.

Savings and Financial Education

Even the ultra poor can save, especially when they start receiving a consumption allowance. Regular savings creates a culture of discipline that is essential for financial management for their businesses as well as planning for the future. More importantly, saving allows a participant to start envisioning a different future and seeding hope for a better life, which is critical to the upward trajectory of ultra-poor households.

Health Services

The ultra poor often do not have access to adequate health care. They lack the information, capacities and financial resources required to visit health care providers when necessary. To counter this, the TUP programme in Bangladesh delivers integrated health care support to participants through health programme organisers, community health workers and the services of local government doctors.

Social Integration

The ultra poor are often ostracised and stigmatised in their own communities, and do not benefit from a sense of belonging and support of peer networks. Social integration and support can increase confidence and decrease vulnerability. Some Graduation programmes mobilise the community to integrate the ultra poor by setting up village poverty reduction committees to hear grievances and support the ultra poor.


The BRAC Approach To Targeting

Targeting is a key component of the Graduation programme, designed to minimise the high costs of inclusion errors as well as create a sense of ownership and buy-in amongst the community. As the ultra poor are often not counted in census tracking, are stigmatised and exist at the margins of their community, they are often excluded from programmes that are intended to support them. To reach these households, BRAC adopts a process of triangulation that combines the respective strengths of geographical, participatory and proxy means test targeting to identify the poorest areas and, within those areas, the poorest households.

The first stage, geographical targeting, is used during the programme design phase to identify the poorest districts through statistical data, such as poverty and vulnerability mapping from the World Food Programme, statistical indices and economic reports and complimented by organisation staff’s own knowledge of poverty pockets in the area. Within each sub-district, further geographical selection is carried out through consultations with other stakeholders, such as microfinance institutions and the government.

The second stage, participatory targeting, is conducted in the communities themselves. In each of the poor communities identified a complete household listing is identified through a Participatory Wealth Rankings (PWR) exercise, a sub set of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodologies. The PWR approach offers communities a chance to define for themselves who the poor are, providing a more holistic and people-centred determination of poverty and its ranking.

The PWR is ideally conducted over a two day period and requires 2-3 hours each day. It should be facilitated by skilled staff of the implementing organisation. On the first day programme staff visit each village, speak with key village members (e.g., school teachers, village elders, shop owners) to explain the programme objectives and build rapport.  The actual PWR is then conducted on a separate day. A community meeting is set up involving good representation from all areas of the village. Care is taken to ensure that marginalised groups in the village, including the poorest living on the margins, are included as well as women. 

A village map is then drawn and a list of households is generated from the map. Next, a card is drawn up for each household. The villagers are asked to rank each household from the richest to the poorest according to their own criteria (e.g., very rich, rich, normal, poor, very poor, extremely poor). They then place each household in the category that best represents them. Participants often debate in which category a certain household falls, making the thought process more rigorous and placement of the households more accurate.

Following this, a means test is conducted through a door-to-door survey by staff at each of the most vulnerable households identified by the PWR. The means test relies on a short set of verifiable and observable indicators of household wealth and is conducted after the PWR to offset any biases that may emerge from the qualitative and community nature of the PWR. The staff then compiles a list of eligible households deemed the poorest. 


BRAC participant selections Criteria 

Generally when conducting these participant selections in Bangladesh, BRAC uses the following criteria to include the most vulnerable: 

1. Households that have children of school going age who are doing manual labour. 
2. Households that do not own land or have minimum land ownership. 
3. Households with no asset that earn income. 
4. Households that do not have an active male income earner. 
5. One or more household members who earn their livelihood by begging. 
6.   One or more household members who earn their livelihood by daily domestic labour.

Five Building Blocks 

The graduation model is built on five core elements: targeting, consumption support, savings, skills training and regular coaching, and an asset transfer Pilots adapt the building blocks—prioritizing, sequencing, and shaping the elements to the priority needs of the poorest and the reality of the markets in the various program sites. Understanding the core logic of the model and knowing how and when to bring in flexibility is a key role of the implementing partners—especially the program staff charged with the close monitoring and coaching of participants.


Programmes/Activities of BRAC in Poverty Alleviation

BRAC works on the following fourteen sectors ultra-poor graduation; Integrated development; Microfinance; Skills development; Migration; Climate change; Disaster risk management; Gender justice and diversity; Community empowerment; Human rights and legal aid services; Health, nutrition and population; Water, sanitation and hygiene; Urban Development and Education.

Targetting the ultra-poor

Our programme is specifically designed to meet the needs of too poor households to access traditional development interventions. We create and improve livelihoods for those at the base of the economic pyramid through our 'graduation' model, eradicating poverty in all its forms. Over 25 countries have adapted and replicated our groundbreaking model to date. 95 per cent of our participants graduate from ultra-poverty. Globally, 75-98 per cent of the participants meet the country-specific graduation criteria in 18-36 months, according to reports from CGAP and Ford Foundation-funded pilots.

Graduation, measured through criteria, occurs when households achieve economic and social advancement over 24 months.

  • At least three sources of income in the household within two years
  • Nutritious meals twice a day for every member of the household
  • Use of a sanitary latrine and safe drinking water
  • At least 10 ducks/chickens/pigeons owned by the household
  • Kitchen garden present in the household
  • Sustainable homes, considering the geographical context
  • Children attend school
  • If space is available, there are four fruit-bearing or woody trees are owned by the household. 
  • Eligible couples adopt family planning
  • Zero child marriage in the household

Microfinance Programme

As one of the largest financial services providers to the poor in the world, we offer a diverse range of products and services to families across Bangladesh. Microfinance supports people living in poverty in myriad ways by facilitating easy access to credit and savings, from enabling investment in small enterprises to helping families maintain spending on food to accessing foreign employment opportunities and offering coping mechanisms for emergencies. We directly contribute to achieving eight sustainable development goals – relating to extreme poverty, food security, health, education, gender equality, sanitation, inclusive economic growth and climate change resilience.

Skill Development Programme

A thBangladesh'sadesh’s population is 10-24 years old,, and two million young people enter the labour market every year. However, half of the people are illiterate or semi-literate, and most young people end up with irregular, informaBangladesh'sladesh’s workforce is expected to reach 76 million people in 2025. We aim to use skills to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth and create decent employment opportunities for 500,000 young people within the next five years. We provide competency-based training, in line with the National Skills Development Policy, focusing on women and marginalised groups. We strive to enhance employment opportunities through apprenticeships, institution-based training and enterprise development, focusing on decent jobs in growth sectors.

Disaster Management and Climate Change

Climate change is a rising global concern. Bangladesh, a low-lying river delta region, is particularly at risk. Our aim is to enhance our institutional capacity to respond to natural and human-made hazards through humanitarian response and to support communities in rebuilding their lives as quickly as possible. We also focus on empowering communities to sustainably reduce the vulnerability of their populations. In alignment with the sustainable development goals, we strengthen resilience through community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptive strategies against climate change.

Gender Justice and Diversity

Nearly two out of three women in Bangladesh experience gender-based violence during their lifetime. Violence ranges from sexual harassment and emotional abuse to child marriage, stalking, sex trafficking, acid attacks, rape and dowry killings. We work to combat violence against women and girls and eliminate all forms of gender discrimination. Our aims are consistent with the national Seventh Five Year Plan and the sustainable development goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Community Empowerment

Community development is not possible unless women living in poverty are given a voice. We provide women with the tools to claim their entitlements, develop leadership, prevent exploitation, and play active roles in their communities. We strengthen rural communities by building institutions to close gaps between communities and local government. We increase access to information with a specific focus on reducing violence against women and children. We address the sustainable development goals of non-governmental equality and empowermenon-governmenten and girls and build effective and accountable institutions.

Advocacy for Social Change

WBRAC'se BRAC’s impact through influence and partnerships. We ensure sustainability through advocating for changes to be incorporated into national laws and policies. We mobilise government, communities, and non-government actors and facilitate social dialogue to promote people-centric policies and programmes. Additionally, we work with internal and external stakeholders to translate development experiences into knowledge resources for future interventions.

We continued strong advocacy efforts in health, education, ultra-poverty, road safety and climate-resilient technologies. We organised two mayoral debates in Dhaka in collaboration with a multilevel strong-governmental attempt to enforce good governance. Voters watched non-governmentn television and directly shared their problems with the candidates. We scale BRBRAC'smpact through influence and partnerships.

We ensure sustainability through advocating for changes to be incorporated into national laws and policies. We mobilise government, communities, and non-government actors and facilitate social dialogue to promote people-centric policies and programmes. Additionally, we work with internal and external stakeholders to translate development experiences into knowledge resources for future interventions. We developed a database with information on existing development interventions in the wetland regions, which will be shared online for easy public access. This will help us identify potential service needs and identify the communities deprived of coverage. We influenced the highest legislative authority to rethink the reform of the Road Transport Act. We developed a national database to address the absence of a comprehensive information repository on road accidents. We strengthened knowledge sharing and collaboration with BRBRAC'sister concerns, introducing the Advocacy Forum to synchronise research and advocacy initiatives between BRAC and BRAC University and its institutes.

Urban Development

We aim to make BaBangladesh'srban spaces more liveable for all residents. Our interventions are pillared on the sustainable development goal of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). Urbanisation is intensifying across the country, and by 2050, an estimated 50 per cent of the cocountry'sopulation will live in urban areas. We aim to ensure access to affordable, quality essential services for marginalised communities in urban areas. We will address systemic inequalities and empower people to demand their rights to lead better lives. Simultaneously, we will strengthen urban local governance institutions to develop, adopt and effectively implement pro-poor policies and services in urban spaces.

Human Rights and Legal Aid Services

Access to justice is defined as the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice in compliance with universal human rights standards. We believe that to facilitate smooth access to the justice pathway, it is necessary to uphold the quality of justice services, mainly through legal aid and legal awareness, strengthen the capacity of civil society, exercise the equal and fair application of the law, promote transparency in the judicial system, and uphold professionalism in service delivery. Our efforts address the goal of promoting the rule of law at the national level and ensuring equal access to justice for all.

Health, Nutrition and Population

Mothers and children die every day from preventable causes and diseases. We aim to change that by ensuring that underserved populations in rural and urban Bangladesh have access to health, nutrition and reproductive services. Our focus is on scale and impact without compromising quality, equity, and sustainability. Over 100,000 of our frontline community health workers offer healthcare and nutrition services and connect communities with healthcare facilities, prioritising communicable and non-communicable diseases. Our interventions ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all of all ages.

Educational Programme

In line with the National Education Policy 2010, our strategic vision for the next five years ensures inclusion, equitable quality education and promotes lifelong opportunities for all. As a country with an emerging economy, a core challenge for Bangladesh is to ensure that its growth strategy addresses equity. Education for all children, which ensures economic and social inclusion, is a vital element of that strategy. We aim to provide a full range of educational opportunities from early childhood to adolescence, focusing mainly on girls from disadvantaged areas.

Integrated Development Programme

Despite the country's development and economic growth, poverty is still very prevalent in the hard-to-reach areas of Bangladesh. We work for underserved communities socially and geographically detached from mainstream development interventions. We realise that poverty is multi-faceted, especially in the hard-to-reach wetlands (haor), riverine islands (char), and indigenous populations in northwestern Bangladesh. We offer multi-faceted support, covering a range of sustainable development goals such as ending poverty and hunger, ensuring education and well-being for all and promoting sustainable economic growth.

Agriculture and Food Security

Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, facing extreme events that continually affect crop production. We are committed to developing and disseminating a diverse range of climate-smart agricultural technologies to ensure food security. We design our interventions to meet the sustainable development goals of achieving food security and improved nutrition,, and promoting sustainable agriculture.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Access to safe water and sanitation are fundamental human rights. Inability to access them can lead to a wide variety of social impacts, from water-related diseases and malnutrition to low school attendance rates and loss of productivity. We have been working to improve services relating to water, sanitation and hygiene in Bangladesh since 2006. So far, we have provided these services across half the country, ensuring sustainability through community ownership, developing on-government with local governments, and supporting local entrepreneurs. From 2016, we will expand our reach into urban and hard-non-governments, contributing to the sustainable development goal of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.

Migration Programme

A combination of factors - lack of proper information, inadequate services from government and non-government agencies, absence of proactive migration policies, and a lack of policy implementation means that migrants face challenges when leaving home, working abroad, and returning. We provide support at every step of the journey to try and change that, to ensure that migrant workers know their rights and exercise them. Our goals are to create an orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration environment and promote safe and secure working environments for migrant workers.


We are a social organisation constantly evolving to the changing needs of society. Whether in education, health or community mobilisation, our unique models bring services to the doorsteps of those living in poverty. We aim to achieve self-sustainability in everything we do. As part of the financial strategy, we invest in socially-responsible companies that assist us in our mission to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our six investments help us reach the goal of sustainable social development.

Social Enterprises

Developing economies have an increasing urgency to promote market-based initiatives that offer sustainable business and consumer solutions to disadvantaged populations. This is exemplified by the social enterprise model for business, which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Our continuous presence in the rural economy has helped us understand the challenges that rural and disadvantaged communities face. These challenges hinder economic growth and social empowerment. We invest in business solutions that engage rural and urban small/micro enterprises as suppliers, producers and consumers, ensuring affordable products and services that give families across Bangladesh the opportunity to lead better lives.


Recent Statistics of BRAC Programmes in Bangladesh 2020

a) 101,396 households graduated from extreme poverty + COVID-19 spotlight: 118,242 participants received cash support, hygiene materials and awareness on COVID-19. Dry rations, agriculture and livestock inputs were mobilised for 117,635 participants from government and village communities.

b) 105,374 people (including 30,270 women and 1,519 persons with disabilities) reached through skills training and decent work interventions + COVID-19 spotlight: 15,830 people received emergency cash support and 92,525 hand sanitisers distributed.

c) 246,871 outpatient consultations conducted in 11 health facilities in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar + COVID-19 spotlight: 1.36 million people reached through awareness messages in the camps and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.

d) 8.18 million total clients reached with financial services and USD 4.5 billion disbursed in loans + COVID-19 spotlight: USD 17 million emergency cash transferred to 700,000 households through digital financial services.

e) 656,950 people in hard-to-reach situations such as haor (wetlands) regions supported with healthcare, telemedicine services and climate-resilient technologies + COVID-19 spotlight: 1.42 million people (including 900,000 people involved in rice harvesting) received awareness messages in hard-to reach areas.

f) 556,531 people reached through awareness activities on safe migration, human trafficking and reintegration of returnee migrants, and 9,510 returnee migrants received immediate support after arriving at the airport + COVID-19 spotlight: 2,739 returnee migrants received tele-counseling services through mobile phones and 5,856 returnee migrants received emergency cash assistance.

g) 104,678 people made aware of their legal rights and provided with legal aid, and USD 5.1 million recovered through Alternative Dispute Resolution and court cases + COVID-19 spotlight: 4,100 disputes resolved through Online Dispute Resolution

h) 9.7 million reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, nutrition, non-communicable diseases, disability and eye care services were received by people + COVID-19 spotlight: 63 million people reached with prevention and protection information

i) 608,813 people living in urban slums received low-cost housing, infrastructure development, livelihood support, urban agriculture, water, hygiene and sanitation services + COVID-19 spotlight: 1.8 million people living in urban slums across 20 cities received food and cash support, hand washing facilities and hygiene promotion

j) 107,135 people gained access to safe drinking water and 52,513 people gained access to safely-managed sanitation facilities + COVID-19 spotlight: 1,000 hand washing stations installed at public places and 203,381 people reached with awareness messages in 20 upazilas with high infection rates

k) 50,000 households received holistic emergency response support in areas affected by flood and 10,600 households received holistic emergency response support in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan + COVID-19 spotlight: 430,153 households received cash stipends and food and 7,300 students received protective items

l) 748,679 students accessed inclusive learning opportunities in BRAC schools and neurodevelopmental disability centres + COVID-19 spotlight: 748,679 students continued learning through at-home learning platforms such as mobile phones, television and community radio, and 214,860 pre-primary students from government primary schools were reached through radio schools

m) 1.99 million people were sensitised to violence against women and children, and 4,925 BRAC staff and 11,798 volunteers trained on gender sensitivity

n) 40,867 households in climate-vulnerable situations supported in building resilience to climate change + COVID-19 spotlight: 8,900 people received awareness and safety messages

o) 13,317 survivors of violence supported with medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services, and 4,608 women referred for legal aid services + COVID-19 spotlight: 9.8 million people reached with awareness messages through members of Polli Shomaj (women-led institutions), local cable networks and community radio network

p) 1.74 million symptomatic cases screened for TB, of which 230,049 cases were diagnosed and started treatment. 1.25 million symptomatic cases were screened for malaria and 1.31 million long-lasting insecticidal nets were distributed for malaria prevention + COVID-19 spotlight: 2.2 million people in Bangladesh. 

Follow BRAC Annual Repot 2020, Bangladesh | BRAC 

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