Showing posts with label partners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label partners. Show all posts

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beyond Microfinance

The following was originally posted by Daniel Vidal on the Whole Planet Foundation blog.

Access to capital for the poor is absolutely critical if we want to eradicate poverty. It’s why at Whole Planet Foundation, this is what we focus on – raising funds to distribute to microfinance institutions (MFIs) who lend the money out to the poor. Unfortunately, the poorest countries also tend lack proper infrastructure, access to public health servants and even plans to protect its citizens from natural disasters. We’ve seen the heart-breaking results of this in Haiti, who has suffered seriously in the past years from earthquakes and hurricanes. Another unfortunate truth is that, because of these exterior influences/factors access to capital isn’t the only thing the poor need.

What if your business is running perfectly, you’re saving money and about to send you children to school, but a flood hits and washes all your product away? Or a family member becomes sick and you need to use to your savings to travel 100 miles to receive medical attention? It’s the unavoidable that can stop any progress the poor make.

This is why it is so great that some of our partners offer services beyond microfinance.

Pro Mujer, a partner in Latin America, offers high-quality, low-cost primary health care in addition to its microfinance services and business and empowerment training. You might remember from the podcast that I posted a little while back. Learn more.
“Pro Mujer believes that health is women’s most precious asset, a key to their wellbeing and success in the home, the workplace, and their community. Health care is particularly crucial for entrepreneurs because an illness can deplete savings and other assets, keep them away from their business, and cause other disruptions that can threaten a business.”

Fonkoze, our partner in Haiti, is also very innovative in their offerings. They have many different programs to help them better serve the poor in their region, but, what might be the most important, at least recently, is their disaster relief programs. Learn more.
“However, our experience has taught us that, while special programs are effective, our clients deserve a permanent solution to help them better protect the assets they work so hard to build. Therefore, in 2009, Fonkoze and its local insurance partner, AIC, began developing the details of a new catastrophic insurance product that would cover the personal and business assets of Fonkoze clients in the case of natural disaster.”

We also partner with BRAC, in several regions around the world. BRAC has an extensive network and many services, but one that I particularly like is their education programs. Watch the video below to learn more.

“To date, nearly 5 million children, mostly girls, have graduated from BRAC schools and an overwhelming majority of them have gone into the public school system, performing, on average, better than their mainstream peers.”
It’s these services and programs that we take for granted, I think especially here in the US, but it’s these services and programs that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of the poor. I think as long as we have continue down this path, we can slowly, but surely, eradicate poverty and empower the poorest of the poor, providing them with ways to reach the quality of life that they all deserve.

Note: Each of these MFIs do more than I have the space to talk about, and we have many more partners that all have their own unique offerings. I encourage you to explore them yourselves by visiting our implementing partners page.

What programs do you think are most important when serving the poor?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Climate Change – a Glimpse of the Future

Below is a post from Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice and a member of the BRAC USA Advisory Council. Mary Robinson recently visited BRAC's programs in Bangladesh. This post was originally published on the Huffington Post on February 15.

Travelling by seaplane to Koyra, in the delta area of Bangladesh, was the equivalent of a journey some years into the future, when the devastating effects of climate change will be an accepted reality worldwide. We landed in an area still devastated by cyclone “Aila” which hit Bangladesh in 2009. A huge amount of once cultivated land was still under water, because of daily tidal fluctuations and the fact that some embankments had not been mended in the nearly two years since Aila.

I spoke to one woman, living with her husband and son in a tiny shack on a narrow embankment they shared with other families who all had to move there when their homes were destroyed. She looked much older than the mother of a seventeen year old, and had a resigned, desperate expression as she pointed to the flooded area where she had once had a decent home and small farm. “We are waiting” she said, “It is two years now, and nothing has happened. We cannot go home.”

Together with my BRAC hosts ( I was driven to meet local farmers and fishermen and women. BRAC have a big programme in Koyra covering education, and advice on climate resilience to over a thousand villages, including training on how to adapt their livelihoods to cope with the brackish, salinated water that has covered their farmlands and traditional fresh water fishing.

We stopped at a large, recently cultivated area to speak with local farmers. They told me how they were growing maize for the first time, as it is able to grow on brackish land, and different varieties of rice which are salt tolerant. I was encouraged to ask questions, which when translated, were answered with a sense of pride. “Yes, we are glad to have new crops to plant. We can now feed our own families”.

Further on, I watched a man standing waist high in a fenced off area of salinated water. He was feeding fish to crabs to fatten them and getting a good economic return from selling the crabs. BRAC had helped to develop a market elsewhere for the crabs and explained that the local Muslims did not eat crab, so it was Hindus such as this farmer who had developed the crab fattening skills. Fortunately, this did not seem to cause any inter-religious tension.

Later I spoke with a group of women, who with their husbands had adapted their fishing skills away from traditional fresh water fishing to fishing for tilapia, a small salt tolerant fish. They had benefitted from training on how best to manage the fish stocks and ensure sustainability. Again, I was encouraged to ask questions, and like their male counterparts the women were happy to discuss the way they had had to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Yes, they liked the fish to eat, and now they were beginning to have a small income again.

As we drove, I noted similar projects for families living on embankments which were supported by other NGOs, and I was shown some latrines provided by Concern. There were women working to build smaller “bolders” as the embankments are called, and men carrying heavy stones on their heads to help construct a roadway into more flooded parts, all work schemes for local people.

However, I was struck by the absence of effective local authority planning and action. When I raised this with a local authority official, who had been invited to join BRAC colleagues at their local center for a working lunch, he shrugged his shoulders at the immensity of the task and referred to the lack of local authority resources. Bangladesh is a least developed country (LDC) which has become the leading LDC negotiator on climate change issues. Its contribution to the problem of green house gas emissions is negligible, but the additional burden of climate change is already being felt. Officials in Dhaka predict that 20 million people may have to leave this region if the global temperature increases by more than 2° Celsius and sea levels rise as predicted. There is nothing theoretical about the climate change issue from this local viewpoint. The injustice of a poor LDC country having to bear huge additional costs from climate impacts it did not contribute to is self evident.

A memorable stop on my visit was to a local primary school run by BRAC. It was organised on the same principles as a BRAC school I had visited the day before in Korail slum, the largest slum in Dhaka. The schools have 30 plus pupils and one teacher, who teaches these children the five year curriculum in four years, through intensive participation and teacher commitment. These are boys and girls who would not otherwise go to school, and their ages differed as a result. I was struck about how enabling the atmosphere was in both the slum school and the local school, full of creativity and a sense of enjoyment of the work and play. In the school in Koyra the children enacted with great gusto – and acting skills – how climate change may happen. One of the taller boys acted as the tree which the others cut down, even though warned not to. The winds came, and the consequences were played out – they all knew where the climate shelter was! As I watched with a grandmother’s eye, it struck me that every primary school around the world should be beginning to bring home to children what we must all do to change our habits. Every school needs to be a “green school”, so that children can educate their parents. For some it will be knowing where the nearest climate shelter is. For others – in the developed world – it will be learning to reuse, reduce, recycle, eat less meat, and travel by public transport, among other ideas.

I watched representatives of two villages receiving disaster preparedness training provided by BRAC. The main method of instruction was to form small groups who discussed together, and then acted out their response to an early warning of the danger from cyclone or sea surge. .What they were learning about disaster risk reduction will become ever more important as climate change aggravates the risk.

We took another small trip in our seaplane, to the immense excitement and pleasure of the crowds of children and villagers who saw us off and a similar group crowded around when we landed again in the water 10 kilometers away! This time I was shown two different types of climate resilient houses developed by the architectural department of BRAC University. The approach to the design was participatory – amongst architects and engineers, home owners, carpenters and masons, to arrive at a combination of skills where the knowledge of each of the participants was optimised. The first “test” house was on concrete stilts, made of local wood and roofed by local tiling. It looked distinctive as we approached by boat, and sturdy. But it was also quite costly for local people. The other “test” house was constructed entirely from local affordable materials, on the theory that if it was destroyed in a particularly bad cyclone or tidal surge, it could be rebuilt relatively easily. The locals seemed divided on which house they preferred but the younger women I asked opted for the house on stilts.

The journey back to Dhaka in our seaplane took 50 minutes. I was told the journey could take from 36 to 40 hours by road. I was not the only passenger who nodded off en route, and as I did, I was thinking of the resilience of the local people I had met. I was struck by their sense of pride in learning to adapt to worsening environmental conditions, and the admirable way in which BRAC empowers communities in all aspects of its work.

Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice

Monday, September 20, 2010

BRAC and American Pakistan Foundation (APF) Join Hands in Post-Flood Rehabilitation Efforts in Pakistan

Almost 21 million people are now reported as having been directly affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan. With 23 out of 94 BRAC Pakistan’s microfinance branches affected by the flooding, BRAC is close to the people and communities that have been suffering as the disaster began to unfold in July.

“The rains started on July 28th and within the weekend 9 out of 12 of our microfinance branches were flooded,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. He noted that “As a NGO that originated in Bangladesh, we are very familiar with floods and cyclones. We have worked on emergencies for many years. In Pakistan BRAC started relief work immediately. People had lost everything and they needed us to help them.”

BRAC Pakistan launched relief efforts using its institutional knowledge of emergency relief, and its network of community volunteers to identify and provide support to communities in greatest need benefiting over 200,000 people.

As the flood waters recede, rebuilding the lives of those who have most suffered will be the primary focus of the BRAC partnership with the American Pakistan Foundation.

Mr. Awais Khan, CEO of the American Pakistan Foundation, said “We want to ensure that people recover their assets and their ability to earn an income so they can regain their dignity. We are confident that our partnership with BRAC is a great step towards this recovery effort.”

The American Pakistan Foundation will be supporting BRAC, through its U.S. affiliate BRAC USA, to start livelihood recovery efforts across three districts in the Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan. The program will enable 200 households, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized, who have been completely devastated by the disaster, to recover their assets and livelihoods.

Susan Davis, President & CEO of BRAC USA, stated that “BRAC is committed to working with the flood affected communities and for Pakistan’s development.” She said, “We are very pleased to partner with the American Pakistan Foundation, because of its deep and long term commitment to the country.” Ms. Davis added that “BRAC USA encourages people to join this partnership and text BRAC to 20222 to give $10 through their cell phone. We hope to work together to mobilize wider support and empathy for the plight of those suffering from conflict and disaster, and generate greater action.”

About BRAC
BRAC, the largest non-profit in the developing world, was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and currently touches the lives of more than 138 million people through its programs addressing poverty including micro-loans, education, health services, self-employment opportunities and human rights education. BRAC has provided $6.7 billion in micro-loans to nearly eight million borrowers, mostly women, and created 9 million self-employment opportunities. BRAC’s 84,000 community health promoters have provided basic health services to nearly 100 million people. Currently, BRAC has programs in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.

BRAC began operations in Pakistan in 2007 through a microfinance program. It serves over 106,000 members in 94 branches. It has cumulatively disbursed $18 million in loans averaging $161 and has loans outstanding of $7.7 million. In addition to microfinance, BRAC now operates programs in health and education. Through its almost 1,000 staff, BRAC is currently serving about 437,465 people in 14 districts across four provinces.

BRAC USA is a 501(c)3 affiliate in New York. To learn more about BRAC, please visit

About American Pakistan Foundation
Founded and led by Pakistani-Americans and friends of Pakistan at a critical moment in Pakistan's history, the American Foundation (APF) is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the social and economic condition of the people of Pakistan APF's mission is to expand development initiatives in education, public health, social entrepreneurship and poverty-alleviation with a vision to advance mutual understanding between the peoples of the US and Pakistan. APF is a focused effort on developing a secure and transparent channel for effectively mobilizing greater public and private resources from the Pakistani Diaspora and friends of Pakistan to expand the most credible and effective programs dedicated to Pakistan's social and economic development.

For more information, please visit

Monday, April 19, 2010

BRAC Partner in Haiti: Association of Peasants of Fondwa

The Association of Peasants of Fondwa (APF) is a grassroots organization that has worked hand in hand with the peasants of Fondwa, Haiti since 1998. Fondwa is a small village of 7,000 people located in the mountains south of Port-au-Prince in Leogane district. Just two hours from the capital, it nonetheless suffers from the same dire challenges of Haiti's rural countryside. These include limited access to water, ravaging deforestation, indifference on the part of the State, and economic isolation.

APF envisions a new rural Haiti, one comprised of sustainably and holistically developed communities that actively promote the civil and human rights of the poor. The accomplishments of the APF include building the area's first health clinic and secondary school, caring for dozens of children in the St. Anthony orphanage, planting more than half a million trees, working with peasants and international experts in agronomy and veterinary medicine, and conducting extensive literacy campaigns.

As a result of the earthquake on January 12th, APF’s office in Port-Au-Prince was rendered unusable and the small enterprises set up in Fondwa suffered damages. APF has put together a committee to assess the damages and strategize the best way to repair damaged structures and enable the small enterprises, which are central to Fondwa’s economy, to re-open.

The founder of the APF, Fr. Joseph Philippe, who is also the founder of Fonkoze and a partner of BRAC, visited Bangladesh in October 2009 and BRAC USA in November 2009. He met with BRAC International Executive director Aminul Alam in February while he was in Haiti and is currently working with the two Haitian-American’s BRAC USA mobilized to help get BRAC’s programs in Haiti set up. BRAC intends to work in partnership with APF as it starts its programs in Haiti.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BRAC Tanzania: Exceeding Expectations

A few years ago, a program staffer at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made a due diligence trip to Tanzania to evaluate a bold proposal by BRAC to start from scratch a microfinance program combined with health, agriculture, poultry and livestock development.

Today that staff person, Dr. Rajiv Shah, heads USAID. And the Senior Program Officer who completed the deal and placed the bet on BRAC, Dr. Melanie Walker, is beginning to see it payoff.

Three years into this 5 year $15 million start up grant, BRAC Tanzania is on track or exceeding its targets to create a national development organization. With over 100 branches, serving over 112,000 with microfinance, BRAC Tanzania now employs 1,200 staff and benefits over 1 million people.

In addition, it has over 1,600 community health promoters (CHP) who promote health through education, prevention, referral and selling simple health-related products. Over 800,000 people have benefited. One CHP that I met, Emmanuela Rwekaza, said that her top selling items are "sanitary napkins, paracetamol and condoms." Her highest margin is on the anti-fungal cream.

BRAC has also trained an army of agricultural entrepreneurs and farmers who are blazing a trail to improve productivity, yields and incomes. There are thousands of self-employed poultry and livestock service providers, artificial inseminators, model rearers and farmers. Over 32,000 farmers have been trained.

I interviewed Aziz, a young man who said that he "earns a good living now from inseminating cows." He charges between 15,000 (US$7.50) and 25,000 (US$12.50) schillings per service.

BRAC has caught the eye of the Tanzanian President, reported board members Dr. Harun Kashali and Dr. Hassan Mshinda over dinner. We talked about how many young people have received training, become employed, and started paying taxes for the first time in their lives. While the discipline of turning up on time for work at 7 am and walking the hot dusty roads is not for everyone, whether they stay with BRAC months or years, it is a net gain for the country.

Two branch managers hired at the start were promoted to Area Managers two years ago. Rose and Emma are indicative of the potential of Tanzanians, particularly young women, to seize this opportunity for themselves and the nation's development.

- Susan Davis

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflections on Partnering with The Mastercard Foundation

I recently spent a week traveling and visiting the microfinance multiplied program of BRAC Uganda with Reeta Roy and Peggy Woo of The Mastercard Foundation. As a new foundation, most people don't know much about it. Let me share a few reflections.

Our partnership is exemplary. Not only did Mastercard remove the capital constraint for BRAC to scale up its microfinance, livelihoods and youth programs, but its rigorous yet caring approach has made us better. I value the open communication and frank detail-oriented exchanges.

We also benefit from the generous way they share what they learn and network us with other good organizations. The partnership thus becomes an efficient learning network for best practices around microfinance in Africa and youth livelihoods development.

As BRAC International's Deputy Executive Director Imran Matin said, the partnership is also about "co-diffusion." The Foundation works with us to share insights and learning from the Uganda program. We value the strategic discussions, respect for our implementation abilities and overall trust.

Mastercard Foundation President Reeta Roy posted a daily blog on their website about our visit to Uganda from January 24 through 29. Her poignant writing captured not only the numerical results but also progress that matters to real people we got to meet.

In addition to all the people Reeta wrote about, I remember her saying after meeting with the adolescent club in a Kampala slum, "they were amazing-such energy. It was really hard to say goodbye, wasn't it?"

- Susan Davis

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Founder of Fonkoze, Fr. Joseph B. Phillippe visits BRAC Bangladesh

Fr. Joseph B. Philippe is best known as the founder of Fonkoze, Haiti’s first microcredit bank for the poor. Since 1994, the bank has helped spread the concept of solidarity and has been lending to the furthest reaches of rural Haiti. BRAC first partnered with Fonkoze, more than three years ago. Over the last few years BRAC has been providing Fonkoze technical assistance to Fonkoze for its economic development program for the ultra poor, Chemen Lavi Miyo (CLM). Fr. Joseph recently visited BRAC in Bangladesh to hold talks of further partnership between BRAC and Peasant Association of Fondwa (AFP) in Haiti.

Fr. Joseph provided some insights into the proposed collaboration between BRAC and AFP. He said, “BRAC’s philosophy, mission and vision match with those of APF: to empower the rural poor. I am very impressed with the quality of work BRAC has already done in microfinance, healthcare and education. With BRAC’s participation, our vision of empowering the poor will be strengthened and we could then expand our experience throughout Haiti."

“BRAC has an ongoing formation program for staff which is very good. They have several impressive training centers to develop their staff. Most BRAC employees work with high dedication, commitment and professionalism and I believe this is because they are well-trained and the social benefit package for the employees is also quite good. I want to emulate this approach so that the people we are training turn out to be as professional and motivated as the BRAC staff.”

He further added, “BRAC, unlike other international [Non-Governmental Organizations] NGOs, was organized by the poor. This gives BRAC invaluable insight and direction about their work. Moreover, most other NGOs don’t care about sustainable development but BRAC does. This is why we want to work with them.”

Fr. Joseph has been a leader in the struggle to promote economic opportunity for Haiti’s poor majority for more than two decades. He was involved in transforming his hometown of rural Haiti into a model for sustainable agrarian development. In this process, he started the Peasant Association of Fondwa (APF) in 1988.

With an ambitious and visionary mind, Fr. Joseph also founded the University of Fondwa (UNIF), Haiti’s first and only rural university. UNIF specializes in training young people from rural Haiti in Agronomy, Veterinary Medicine, and Management, encouraging them to return to their home communities and become leaders in sustainable development efforts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Partnership Jumpstarts Development in Sierra Leone and Liberia

BRAC leads anti-poverty effort in post-conflict countries

NEW YORK, July 22, 2009 – BRAC is leading a $15 million initiative to rebuild war-torn communities in West Africa, four organizations supporting the effort announced today.

The Soros Economic Development Fund, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Omidyar Network, and Humanity United are funding this groundbreaking initiative to support families and prevent renewed conflict.

“This investment in the people of West Africa comes at a critical time,” said Stewart Paperin, president of the Soros Economic Development Fund. “With their countries emerging from devastating civil wars, this support gives people the tools to rebuild.”

BRAC, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty groups, is providing microfinance, health, and agricultural support in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It anticipates that over 500,000 people will benefit from these programs.

Click here to read the full press release.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hillary Clinton Addresses Global Philanthropy Forum

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed participants of the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington, DC last week. She emphasized her commitment to make development an equal pillar in US foreign policy along with diplomacy and defense. She also announced Ambassador Elizabeth Bardsley will head a State Department unit to promote partnerships. She said the "door of the State Department is wide open." Her Excellency Queen Rania and His Highness the Aga Khan also made keynote addresses to the forum.

The 500 participants received a copy of the proceedings from last year which included the interview with BRAC Founder F.H. Abed. ShoreBank International President Laurie Spengler spoke about the BRAC Africa Loan Fund on a panel on poverty. BRAC USA Board member Chuck Slaughter moderated a panel discussion on health. Philanthropist, muscian and BRAC Advisory Council Member Peter Buffett entertained participants performing six original songs including Set Us Free, a video and song inspired after his visit to BRAC's program with adolescent girls in Bangladesh (see it on Humanity United hosted a special breakfast session on Liberia with Minister Natty Davis and those interested in learning more about how to support development in that country.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Support BRAC's Adolescent Girls and Double Your Gift!

From now until March 27th, any gift you make to BRAC's Safe Spaces and Loans for Teenage Girls in Tanzania or Bangladesh will be fully matched by Global Giving as part of their WomenX2 Campaign!

There are 600 million adolescent girls living in poverty in the developing world. These two projects benefit a fraction of these girls in Tanzania and Bangladesh. Safe Spaces seeks to reduce the inequalities and gender discrimination, increase sociability, improve educational attainments, economically empower teenage girls, reduce early marriage and its harmful effects and enhance health awareness and practices.

When a girl is educated, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. The population’s overall HIV rate goes down, malnutrition decreases 43% and 10% more girls attend secondary school. Furthermore, the economy grows 3% more and, when a girl earns income, she reinvests 90% of it in her family as opposed to 35% for a man.

Click here to learn about and donate to BRAC's Safe Spaces & Loans in Tanzania.

Click here to learn about and donate to BRAC's Safe Spaces & Loans in Bangladesh.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A New Vision For Bangladesh

BRAC’s Health Program currently reaches over 92 million people and has been integral to improving health and nutrition in Bangladesh. At the heart of this program are BRAC’s nearly 70,000 community health volunteers who provide vital health education and health-related products in their respective villages. After successful campaigns to spread Oral Rehydration Therapy techniques and help control tuberculosis, these health volunteers are now being trained and equipped to take on vision through an exciting partnership between BRAC and VisionSpring.

VisionSpring, founded by Dr. Jordan Kassalow, is an innovative social enterprise that aims to reduce poverty and generate opportunity in the developing world through the sale of affordable eyeglasses. BRAC and VisionSpring have partnered since 2006 to train nearly 600 BRAC community health volunteers on how to conduct vision exams and sell affordable glasses in their local villages. Over 12,000 glasses have been sold to date.

But why are glasses so important? In the developing world, eyeglasses are primarily available in high-priced urban shops, thus the rural poor lack an accessible and affordable option. However, glasses are a crucial tool for daily living, especially after the age of 40. Without glasses, weavers cannot set their looms, farmers cannot sort seeds before planting, artisans cannot see enough detail to create intricate designs. A drop in productivity and income among middle-aged workers, many of whom support both children and elderly parents, can push already-vulnerable families over the edge, therefore, an accessible and affordable glasses solution is critical.

Given the success of the two year pilot, BRAC and VisionSpring hope to scale up this program to include the entire network of community health volunteers and cover every district in Bangladesh. Within a few years the partnership could help distribute millions of glasses each year, creating a ripple effect of economic improvement in the Bangladesh’s poorest communities.

Click here to learn more about VisionSpring.
Click here to learn more about BRAC's Health Program.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leads Rajiv Gandhi Foundation delegation on a visit to BRAC activites in Bangladesh

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of India's Congress Party Chairman Sonia Gandhi, arrived on 3rd February afternoon at Dhaka on a two-day visit to observe BRAC's education program. Priyanka was accompanied by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Secretary Gyanendra Bagdaiyan and Educator Sonia Phillip.

Upon their arrival at the Zia International Airport, BRAC Executive Director Mahbub Hossain, Director Ahmed Nazmul Hossain and high officials of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka greeted them. From the airport, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation delegates went to Savar to visit BRAC's pre-primary school at Charabagh village and cluster primary schools at Kumkumari village.

During their visit to the schools, they exchanged greetings with the children and observed the innovative teaching techniques being used in the BRAC schools. The children also performed songs and dances for the visiting dignitaries.

Later, they visited the refreshers session for school teachers at BRAC Research Training and Resource Centre in Savar. The delegates discussed training methods, the features and facilities of the institute with the teacher and their trainer.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is a trustee board member of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation , met with BRAC's Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed and other high officials of BRAC the following day at the Head Office in Mohakhali and discussed how BRAC's education program could be implemented in India and what type of assistance BRAC can provide in this regard.

Priyanka's brother and Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi visited Bangladesh in August last year and was impressed with BRAC's Education Program. Rahul expressed his desire to introduce a similar program in India, and Priyanka's Bangladesh visit was aimed at continuing the dialogue between the two organizations.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bringing Reading Glasses to Rural Bangladesh: BRAC and VisionSpring

VisionSpring is a non-profit social enterprise that reduces poverty and generates opportunity through the sale of affordable reading glasses. For the past two years, BRAC and VisionSpring have been working together selling reading glasses through BRAC's community health promoters - members of our microfinance village organizations who are trained to identify and treat basic illnesses and visit 200-250 households every month providing health education and selling health-related products, from de-worming medication to reading glasses, to supplement their income.

VisionSpring Franchise Partner Manager Lalit Kumar reports about his ongoing work with BRAC:

We often joke here at VisionSpring that working with BRAC is like landing a contract with Walmart. It’s the kind of opportunity that every small NGO dreams of – BRAC is known for its massive scale and incredible efficiency. This partnership will allow us to reach a huge new market of people in need in a time frame that would have previously been impossible. Now we just have to deliver!

Click here to read the full post.