The Norman Transcript


January 5, 2014

Microfinance helping to combat poverty in Bangladesh



A willingness to grow to meet increasing needs has been a hallmark of the organization that includes BRAC University and BRAC Bank Limited. The bank provides loans to small-scale entrepreneurs who would not otherwise be able to expand and grow their business enterprises. The university requires freshman students to spend a semester in a rural area working with people in poverty.

BRAC’s principles include continuity of leadership and space for creativity. Attracting a talented team with the creative skills to solve the problems of poverty is integral to the organizations success Razzak said.

BRAC employs 150,000 people worldwide in Africa, Asia, Haiti, and the U.S.A. It is currently expanding to Myanmar.

The Adolescent Development Programs specifically target early marriage and teen pregnancy.

Microfinance includes loans, but it also includes transportation of goods in a country where transport can be an issue, particularly for the disenfranchised in rural areas. BRAC also helps with marketing and distribution. BRAC loans have assisted 5.54 million micro-borrowers with a cumulative loan disbursement of $9.73 billion in U.S. dollar equivalent according to BRAC reports.

In Dhaka, Oklahomans shopped at Aarong, a store set up by BRAC in 1978 to alleviate poverty by giving rural women and artisans a chance to earn better livelihoods. Aarong is a Bengali word meaning “Village Fair.”

BRAC reports that Aarong provides employment to more than 65,000 artisans and directly benefits 320,00 people across Bangladesh. Aarong is BRAC’s “largest social enterprise and its surpluses are used to finance” some of BRAC’s development programs.

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