Global Vision Awards 2007
Winner: Economic Development
A Bangladeshi recipient of a BRAC business loan, with her chicken farm.
In the increasingly crowded field of microlending, there are few aid organizations with a track record as impressive as the Bangladeshi development group Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC). Founded in 1972 by former Shell Oil executive Fazle Hasan Abed to provide relief to refugees of the country's Liberation War, BRAC today serves as a critical lifeline for more than 100 million extremely poor Bangladeshis, a quarter of the population, who otherwise would have scant or no access to health care or education—let alone credit. Like their compatriots at the Nobel Prize–winning Grameen Bank, BRAC operatives provide support through microloans to more than 6 million small-scale entrepreneurs, farmers, and artisans. But BRAC is much more than a lending organization. Aiming to empower village women, it has built more than 50,000 schools in which two out of three students are female. And its 70,500 health-outreach workers aid millions: between 1986 and 1991, BRAC helped increase the country's childhood immunization rates from 2 percent to 62 percent, and its oral-rehydration campaign to prevent death from diarrhea has drastically reduced childhood mortality rates. Having recently expanded and adapted its programs to Africa, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, BRAC is an increasingly influential champion of the notion that the world's poor, if properly equipped and empowered, can radically improve their own lives.
Our judge says: "BRAC is truly impressive, worthy of sharing the Nobel Peace Prize that the Grameen Bank, another Bangladeshi microloans company, won in 2006."—Dr. Joseph Stiglitz
Visit the Global Vision Awards 2007 article.