Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder & Chairperson, BRAC
Born in Bangladesh in 1936,
Abed was educated at Dhaka and Glasgow Universities. The 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh had a profound effect on Abed, then in his thirties, a professional accountant who was holding a senior Corporate Executive position at Shell Oil. The war dramatically changed the direction of his life: he left his job and went to London to devote himself to Bangladesh's War of Independence. There, Abed helped initiate a campaign called "Help Bangladesh" to organise funds to raise awareness about the war in Bangladesh. The war over, Abed returned to newly independent Bangladesh to find the economy of his country in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started trekking back into the country. Their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. Abed decided to initiate his own, by setting up BRAC to rehabilitate returning refugees in a remote area in northeastern Bangladesh. This work led him and BRAC to deal with the long-term task of improving living conditions of the rural poor. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to manage and control their own destiny. Thus, BRAC's primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under Abed’s leadership, in the span of only three decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.