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Dhaka Tribune

Harnessing the forces of positive change

Update : 11 Mar 2014, 08:00 PM

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, Brac, was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He was educated both at Dhaka and Glasgow universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil, when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s war of independence. There, he helped initiate a fundraising and awareness campaign called Help Bangladesh.

When the war was over, he returned to the newly independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started returning to the country and their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. It was then that he established BRAC to rehabilitate the returning refugees in a remote area in north-eastern Bangladesh. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to better manage their lives. Thus, BRAC’s primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under his leadership, in the span of only four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.

BRAC University, founded in 2001, is integral to BRAC’s work to create a more just and peaceful world by providing relevant, high-quality education and equipping its students with the knowledge and skills to address contemporary and future challenges. BRAC University is the embodiment of BRAC’s fundamental conviction that education and training are forces for positive change.

Sir Fazle has received numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the Open Society Prize (2013),the WISE Prize (2011), the Conrad Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Award (2009), the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), the Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), the Henry R Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for lifetime achievement in social development and poverty alleviation (2007), the Gates Award for Global Health (2004), the UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for outstanding contribution in human development (2004), the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award (2002), the Olof Palme Award (2001), UNICEF’s Maurice Pate Award (1992) and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1980).

He is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the ‘global greats’ and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2010, he was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Eminent Persons Group for the Least Developed Countries. Sir Fazle has received several honorary degrees including Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University (2007); Doctor of Laws from Columbia University (2008); Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford; Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, Rikkyo University, Japan (2009), Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath (2010) and from the University of Manchester (2012). In February 2010, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) by the British crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally.

In the Leadership Summit 2014, Sir Abed will look at the key leadership component required to start an organisation in a hostile and challenging environment and turning it into the world’s largest and one of the most successful NGOs based on effectiveness, innovation and sustainability.

The discussion would look at the power of vision, inspiration and delivery which have helped Sir Abed to evolve into one of the most respected NGOs and Development world personalities of the world.

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