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Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2023 00:00

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s 4th death anniversary today Featured

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Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s 4th death anniversary today

Today (Wednesday, 20 December 2023) is the 4th death anniversary of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the visionary leader and founder of BRAC, the largest NGO of the world, who passed away on this day in 2019. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed died at the age of 83, while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dhaka. He established BRAC in 1972, after coming back from London, as a small relief and rehabilitation effort in a remote area of Sylhet.

Subsequently, as part of its enduring development strategy, BRAC initiated an extensive outreach to marginalised segments of society through diverse development initiatives. BRAC has devised a comprehensive development strategy aimed at empowering the underprivileged, encompassing initiatives in areas such as healthcare; education; microfinance; skills development; agriculture; and food security; cottage industries; human rights; road safety; migration; and urban development.

Born in 1936, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed studied accountancy in London, qualifying as a cost management accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell Oil, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life.

After the onset of the War of Liberation, he resigned from his position and moved to London. There, he played a pivotal role in launching "Action Bangladesh" and "HELP Bangladesh", offering support for the Liberation War.

In 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees, who were sheltered in India during the war, called for urgent relief and rehabilitation.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed then founded BRAC to address the needs of the refugees, guided by a desire to help people living in poverty develop their own capacity to better manage their lives. BRAC transformed itself to one of the largest and most effective NGOs in the world by conducting successful socio-economic programmes in many sectors over the last 50 years. BRAC now provides multifaceted services to over 100 million people in 11 countries of Asia and Africa, assisting them in bringing lasting changes to their lives.

Awards and Recognition

For his outstanding contributions to empowering people living in poverty and inequality, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed had been honoured with numerous national and international awards including the Yidan Prize for Education Development (2019), Dutch Royal Knighthood (2019), LEGO Prize (2018), Laudato Si' Award (2017), Jose Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award, South Asia Region (2016), Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal in Global Public Health (2016), World Food Prize (2015), Trust Women Hero Award (2014), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal (2014), CEU Open Society Prize (2013), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), Entrepreneur for the World Award (2009), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for lifetime achievement in social development and poverty alleviation (2007), UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), Gleitsman Foundation International Activist Award (2003), Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award (2003), Olof Palme Prize (2001), InterAction Humanitarian Award (1998) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (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 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In both 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

The many honorary degrees received by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed include those from Princeton University (2014), the University of Oxford (2009), Columbia University (2008) and Yale University (2007).

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