Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
Born Country: Bangladesh
Born In: Baniachong, Bengal Presidency, British India
Famous As: Social Worker
Humanitarian Human Rights Activists
Father: Siddiq Hasan
Mother: Syeda Sufya Khatun
Died On: December 20, 2019
Place Of Death: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Founder/Co-Founder: BRAC, BRAC Bank
Who was Fazle Hasan Abed?
Fazle Abed was drawn into philanthropic activities after a cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1970. He took measures to provide relief to the victims of the disaster. After the Bangladesh-Pakistan partition, he returned from England to find his homeland drowned in poverty. This inspired the humanitarian to work in uplifting the country’s economy, and he formed ‘BRAC’, an organization devoted to his cause. This organization worked towards providing education, healthier living conditions and job opportunities to the less priviledged. As the organization grew, Fazle Abed reached out to people in other countries as well, eventually benefiting almost 130 million people across the world. The NGO also provides human rights support to people, advising them on legal matters, and educating them on the importance of development. In 2010, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his extraordinary efforts to alleviate poverty and for empowering the poor not only in Bangladesh but across the globe. He earned a number of national and international awards and accolades, including the 'Laudato Si' Award,' the 'WISE Prize for Education,' the 'World Food Prize,' the 'LEGO Prize,' the 'Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal,' the 'Spanish Order of Civil Merit,' and the 'Thomas Francis, Jr Medal in Global Public Health' among various others.
Fazle Hasan Abed was born to Siddiq Hasan and Syeda Sufya Khatun on April 27, 1936, in Baniachong, which is now called Habiganj, Bangladesh.
During the partition of East Bengal and Pakistan, Fazle Hasan Abed fled to England, and established 'Action Bangladesh', an effort to seek support in his country's fight for independence. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Abed returned home, to find the country economically drained.
In 1981, this passionate philanthropist became a visiting scholar for ‘Harvard Institute of International Development’. The next year, he was appointed as a member of the ‘Board of Trustees’ for the ‘Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies’. He was also made the chairman of the ‘Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh’.
Two years later, Fazle Hasan Abed became the Chairman of the ‘NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation’. He was also appointed to the ‘Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation' as a board member.
From 1998 to 2005, Fazle Hasan Abed served as a member of renowned committees like the ‘Policy Advisory Group’ of ‘The World Bank’ in Washington, and the ‘Board of Governors’ of the ‘Institute of Development Studies’, affiliated to ‘Sussex University’.
He was also appointed as the Chairman of the governing body of ‘BRAC’ and the Commissioner for the ‘UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor’.
He retired as the chairperson of BRAC International and BRAC Bangladesh in August 2019, and became chair emeritus.
Fazle Abed is known for founding the NGO called BRAC in 1972, one of the world's largest non-governmental organizations.
Fazle Hasan Abed was awarded the ‘Olof Palme Prize’ in 2001, for his invaluable contributions towards the human race.
Fazle Hasan Abed received the ‘David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award’ in 2008, for empowering the poor with education.
Fazle Abed also received other felicitations like ‘Entrepreneur for the World Award’, ‘Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal’ ‘Spanish Order of Civil Merit’ and the ‘Trust Women Hero Award’.
This benevolent social leader had received honorary doctorate degrees from many distinguished institutions in the US and UK, like the ‘Princeton University’, ‘Yale University’, ‘University of Manchester’, and ‘University of Oxford’.
Fazle Hasan Abed was married to Sarwat Abed—his 3rd wife -two had died earliert including his first wife by whom he had a had a son, Shameran and a daughter, Tamara.
Fazle Hasan Abed died on December 20, 2019, at the Apollo Hospital. He was hospitalized on account of breathing problems and physical weakness. He was 83.
Fazle Hasan Abed was the second person in his family to receive a knighthood from the British crown, the first being his great-uncle, Justice Nawab Sir Syed Shamsul Huda.
double checking award list
- BRAC provides support in the areas of education, healthcare, microfinance, agriculture, and human rights. The NGO founded by this social worker, was awarded the ‘Swadhinata Puroshkar’, which is the most prestigious honour in Bangladesh
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- Abed was honoured with the ‘Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership’ in 1980.
- In 1992, he received UNICEF’s ‘Maurice Pate Award’, which is given to commemorate the efforts of an organization or individual’s contribution towards the development of children.
- He was awarded the ‘Olof Palme Prize’ in 2001, for his invaluable contributions towards the human race.
- In 2002, this benefactor received the ‘Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award’, for addressing major social issues.
- He was honoured in 2004 with the ‘Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development’, by the United Nations Development Programme.
- This famous philanthropist was felicitated by the ‘Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’, with the ‘Gates Award for Global Health’, in 2004.
- In 2007, Fazle received the prestigious ‘Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership’, awarded by the ‘Claremont McKenna College’, California, for sharing the best practices in social development.
- During the same time, he was presented with the ‘Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award’ for his mammoth contribution towards the development of his country.
- This altruist received the ‘David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award’ in 2008, for empowering the poor with education.
- In 2008, his organization, ‘BRAC’ was given the ‘Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize’, for its philanthropic efforts.
- In 2010, the British government awarded him with the rank of ‘Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George’, for his efforts to reduce poverty all over the world.
- Fazle Abed has also received other felicitations like ‘Entrepreneur for the World Award’, ‘Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal’ ‘Spanish Order of Civil Merit’ and the ‘Trust Women Hero Award’.
- This benevolent social leader has received honorary doctorate degrees from many distinguished institutions in the US and UK, like the ‘Princeton University’, ‘Yale University’, ‘University of Manchester’, and ‘University of Oxford’.
Early life Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 into the esteemed Hasan family, in Baniachong, British India (now in Bangladesh’s Habiganj District). Fazle Abed's father and his three uncles were adopted by Syed Shamsul Huda , who was one the most influential personalities in Calcutta. Under Syed Shamsul Huda's direction, Fazle Abed's father Syed Mustafa Ali and his three uncles received education from the prestigious St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. However Fazle Abed's family moved out of Calcutta and he matriculated from Pabna Zilla School and went on to complete his higher secondary education from Dhaka College.
He left home to attend University of Glasgow , where, and in an effort to break away from tradition and do something radically different - he studied Naval Architecture. But there was little work in ship building in Pakistan and a career in Naval Architecture would make returning home difficult. With that in mind, Abed joined the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in London, completing his professional education in 1962.
Abed returned to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to join Shell Oil Company and quickly rose to head its finance division. His time at Shell exposed Abed to the inner workings of a large conglomerate and provided him with insight into corporate management, which would become invaluable to him later in life.
Soon after, Bangladesh’s own struggle for independence from Pakistan began and circumstances forced Abed to leave the country. He found refuge in England, where he set up Action Bangladesh to lobby for his country’s independence with the governments of Europe.
1972- Founder and Executive Director, BRAC. The largest Non-Governmental Development Organisation in Bangladesh.
1965-68 Management Accountant, Aircraft Marine Products (GB) Ltd.
1963-65 Budget Accountant, The Bramber Engineering Co., Ltd.
1982-86 Senior Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
1982-86 Member, Board of Trustees, BIDS.
1982-86 Chairman, Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB).
1982-90 Member, President's Council on Women and Children.
1987-90 Chairman, South Asia Partnership.
1987-90 Member, International Commission on Health Research for Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
1990-92 Member, Task Force on Health Research, Geneva, Switzerland.
“Decision Making at BRAC”, Paper presented at the Institute of Management, Manila, October, 1990.
“Education for Girl Child in South Asia”, Paper presented at the World Conference on Education For All, Bangkok, March, 1990.
Privatisation, NGOs and National Development: The Case of BRAC in Bangladesh”, Paper presented at the Encounter - 1992, University of Western Ontario, Canada, 1992.
“Promoting Popular Participation: Some Issues,” in:Participatory Development and the World Bank: Potential Directions for Change, Washington, D.C., The World Bank, 1992.
“Coping with Disasters: From Diarrhea to Cyclone,” In K.M. Cahill (ed.). A Framework for Survival, New York, Basic Books and Council on Foreign Relations, 1993.
“Household Teaching of ORT in Rural Bangladesh”, Assignment Children (New York), volume 61/62 (UNICEF), 1993.
“Social Mobilization for EPI in Bangladesh”, In M. Haq, (ed,) Near Miracle in Bangladesh, University Press Ltd., Dhaka, 1991 (Co-author).
“Credit for the Rural Poor: The Case of BRAC in Bangladesh”, Small Enterprise Development: Vol-2, No.3, 1991.
“Controlling a Forgotten Disease: Using VHWS for Tuberculosis Control in Rural Bangladesh,” Bulletin of the IUALTD, 1991 (Co-author).
"Role of NGOs in International Health". In M Reich and E. Marui (eds.), International Cooperation for Health, Auburn House Publishing Company, Dover, Massachusetts (USA), 1989 (Co-author).
"Scaling up in Health: Two Decades of Learning, In J. Rohde et al. (eds.): Reaching Health for All, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1991 (Co-author).
Photo: BRAC BRAC is working with farmers to mitigate the impacts climate change will have on agriculture.
When the war ended in December 1971, Abed sold his flat in London and returned to the newly independent Bangladesh to find his country in ruins. In addition, the 10 million refugees who had sought shelter in India during the war had started to return home. Their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. Abed decided to use the funds he had generated from selling his flat to initiate his own. He selected the remote region of Sulla in northeastern Bangladesh to start his work. This work led him and his organisation, BRAC, to deal with the long-term task of improving the living conditions of the rural poor. In a 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. As BRAC grew, Abed ensured that it continued to target the landless poor, particularly women, a large percentage of whom live below the poverty line with little or no access to resources or conventional development efforts.
BRAC now operates in more than 69 thousand villages of Bangladesh and covers an estimated 110 million people through its development interventions that range from primary education, essential healthcare, agricultural support and human rights and legal services to microfinance and enterprise development.
In 2002 BRAC undertook its first overseas project when it began operating in Afghanistan. Abed, who regularly visits Afghanistan, explained the different approach BRAC adopts when working outside Bangladesh. BRAC are trying to get Afghans involved in their own development and we are trying to get them to work with us. BRAC currently have 3,900 staff — of these, only 180 are Bangladeshis and the rest are Afghan. Ultimately it will only be Afghans working for BRAC in Afghanistan.”
He was also quick to praise the efforts of BRAC staff in the war-torn country, saying, “There are more security issues and freedom of movement is restricted. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to work under such circumstances.”
BRAC UK is also working with Bangladeshi women in east London. It provides classes in Bangla about banking and savings, so that women feel confident about entering a bank to open savings accounts and therefore gain greater independence.
Haiti is another nation BRAC is focused on assisting in the near future, though it too has its own particular challenges. He says, “The government in Haiti is very fragile. This has been one of our problems. There are also very few institutions that people can depend on. I want to build an institution that people can depend on. And I hope that by the time this is achieved, the government will gradually become energized and properly run.”
He believe that the development of a country is not a duty to be performed by governments alone. The people must be involved. And the institutions, whether they are government, private, or non-profit, must contribute to development.”
However, He is concerned by the quality of education being provided to millions of students in Bangladesh, as he believes it is one of the single most important factors in alleviating poverty. He said, “Simply going to school is not enough — it needs to be the right type of education so that our students are able to compete in the global economy. We must raise the standards at primary, secondary and university levels.” he is a staunch advocate of introducing information technology into schools, claiming that it would hasten the process of raising the quality of education.
Climate change will be felt most in Bangladesh, which is why we are doing preparatory work now. We are undertaking research about how to grow rice in saline water, and how to develop saline and drought-tolerant varieties of rice. We are thinking about agriculture in different conditions — how farmers can continue to be productive under changed circumstances.”
The BRAC Centre has a department for disaster management and climate change, which was set up two years ago with money donated from the Gates Foundation. It has also built many cyclones shelters and plans to build many more in the future, as cyclones will become more frequent.
He adds, ” We prize efficiency. We are run more like a busisness, with targets to be achieved, although there is no bottom-line in the sense of a profit motive. But in everything we do there are targets, whether it is to reduce child mortality rates or increase the numbers of children attending school.” He also added “We also train our people well. BRAC has 20 training centres across Bangladesh and at any given time there are 4,000 people being trained.” Another reason for his optimism about the future is his strong faith in the Bangladeshi character.
Countries where BRAC operates
• Asia: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
• America: Haiti
• BRAC provides technical assistance to organizations in Haiti, India, and Indonesia.
• BRAC has affiliate organizations in the United Kingdom and US
The 18 Promises of BRAC
1. We will not participate in any malpractices or in injustice;
2. We will work hard to bring prosperity to our family;
3. We will send all of our children to school;
4. We will adopt family planning practices and keep our family sizes small;
6. We will always drink clean water;
7. We will keep our food covered and wash our face and hands before eating;
8. We will construct sanitary latrines in our homes and we will use them only for defecating;
9. We will grow vegetables and plant tress in and around our houses;
11. We will fight against polygamy and injustice to women;
12. We pledge our loyalty to our organisation and will abide by its rules and regulations;
13. We will not sign anything without first gaining a good understanding what it is;
14. We will attend our weekly meetings regularly and on time;
16. We will deposit our weekly savings regularly;
17. Once we have taken a loan, we will do work to repay it on time; and
18. We will treat our girls and boys equally and strive to provide equal opportunities for them.
1. BRAC has an accumulated expenditure of US$ 7.548 billion over the last 30 years, with a repayment rate of 99.4%. More than 6 million people have benefited from this money.
2. The microcredit fund was close to US$ 500 million in 2010, one third came from donors. In 30 years, BRAC reduced its dependence on donors from 100% to 30%.
4. The organisation has the support of an army of health care volunteers that provides care to more than 80 million Bengalis.
5. With an anti-diarrhoea campaign in the rural zones in Bangladesh, BRAC contributed to the decline in child mortality among children below the age of five from 25% to 7% in the last three decades.
6. The social companies led by BRAC in different sectors of the economy generate close to 8.5 million jobs.
Established BRAC University
BRAC University was established by BRAC in 2001. BRAC's continued support to education as a force of change and development, BRAC University has been established to provide a high quality of education to meet the demands of the modern age. BRAC University is 'not for profit' institution accredited by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and approved by the Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh.
• 2005 – Commissioner, UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP)
• 2002 - Global Chairperson, International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions (INAFI) International.
• 2001 - Chairman, Board of Directors, BRAC Bank Limited.
• 2001 - President, The Governing Board of BRAC University.
• 2000 - Chair, Finance & Audit Committee, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Banos, Philippines.
• 1999 - Member, Board of Governors, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Banos, Philippines.
• 1998 - Member, Policy Advisory Group, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), The World Bank, Washington, DC.
• 1994 - Member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dhaka
• 1992 - Chairman, NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation
• 1990 - Chairman, ‘Campaign for Popular Education’ (CAMPE), an NGO network on education.
• 1981-82 Visiting Scholar, Harvard Institute of International Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
• 1982-86 Senior Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
• 1982-86 Chairman, Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB).
• 1986-91 Member, World Bank NGO Committee, Geneva, Switzerland.
• 1987-90 Chairman, South Asia Partnership.
• 1987-90 Member, International Commission on Health Research for Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
• 1996- Member, Advisory Board, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
• 1998-2004 Member, Board of Governors, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University, U.K.
Abed has received numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), 2009, 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), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development (2004), The International Activist Award by the Gleitsman Foundation, 2003, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award (2002), Olof Palme Award (2001), UNICEF's Maurice Pate Award (1992), The Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award, 1990 and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
BRAC has also been awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize (2008), which is the world's largest humanitarian prize, as well as the Swadhinata Puroshkar (2007), the highest state award in Bangladesh.
Fazle Hasan Abed was knighted today in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. The Knighthood, announced in the Queen’s New Year's Honours List, was awarded in recognition of Sir Fazle’s services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. The Investiture Ceremony was held by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who represented Queen Elizabeth II. While conferring the knighthood, Prince Charles mentioned to Sir Fazle that he remembered visiting BRAC in Bangladesh and thanked him for his long service in reducing poverty.
Abed is recognized by Ashoka as one of the "global greats" and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2010 Abed was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Eminent Persons Group for the Least Developed countries.
In February 2010, Abed was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KMCG) by the British crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. He says, “We have been very resilient despite the problems we’ve faced. We have always risen and have never been defeated. We will fight until we get to where we want to be.” One cannot doubt that Abed has made a lasting and extraordinary contribution to the journey.
Muhammad Yunus, Amartya Sen, Fazle Hasan Abed
2009 Oxford Encaenia honorands (from left to right
Recipient students met BRAC Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed at his office Fazle Hasan Abed could not sit idly by in his comfortable executive
Knighted at Buckingham Palace Knighthood conferred on Fazle Hasan
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed claims that he is not a miracle worker, but most of his colleagues would dispute that. Almost single-handedly, he has helped one of the world's poorest countries — Bangladesh — provides better health care for all its citizens. As founder and chairperson of BRAC (formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), Abed has garnered international attention for creating what many experts deem the most effective non-governmental organization (NGO) in the world.
Abed began his pioneering work in 1972, following Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan. "We were determined to bring about changes in the lives of poor people," he says. "We felt that whatever we do, we should try and replicate it throughout the nation if we can." Since then, BRAC has fought against poverty, disease, child mortality, and illiteracy by empowering poor rural women through bringing health care and education to their communities.
We the Bangladeshi should study his concept, conceptualize the theme of the innovation and try to apply in every sphere of our rural life to change the life of the poor of the country.
Government of BD should patronize attempts that have taken by him through a unique model invented by him to spread it out to every corner of the country to gaining the benefits of the innovation for the betterment of the lives of the mass people.
Government of BD should take proper steps so that the learners can easily entered with the process of practical learning of this model and can broaden their knowledge and also can apply to achieve the goal of changing the life of the distressed people.
Government of BD should make necessary liaisons with international forum and provide proper backup and pursue for getting honorable Nobel Prize for Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and his institution BRAC.
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