September 24, 2012 — The founder and visionary leader of BRAC, the largest development organization in the world, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed recently concluded an illuminating visit to San Francisco and Washington, DC as The Asia Foundation’s Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Visiting Fellow. The fellowship honors the Foundation’s late Board Chair and former Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley and continues his legacy of strengthening U.S.-Asia ties.
Born in Bangladesh in 1936 and educated in Dhaka and Glasgow, Fazle Hasan Abed was a successful senior executive at Shell Oil Company in Chittagong when the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh transformed his life. His departure from the corporate sector was prompted by the urgency of the relief and rehabilitation needs of millions of refugees who had fled to India and were returning to the newly independent Bangladesh. He established BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), with the mission of improving the living conditions of the rural poor.
Over three decades, due largely to Sir Fazle’s leadership, BRAC has become the largest development NGO in the world, operating in 16 nations. BRAC’s diverse program portfolio and global outreach now covers income generation, health care, education, agriculture and food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, advocacy and human rights, gender justice and diversity, environment, and climate change. For his outstanding efforts to reduce poverty in Bangladesh and globally, Fazle Hasan Abed was knighted in 2010 and has received numerous awards and accolades from world leaders and organizations across the globe.
As The Asia Foundation’s Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Sir Fazle shared his international expertise on poverty alleviation and the role of social innovation in developing economies with speaking engagements arranged by The Asia Foundation at UC Berkeley, the World Affairs Council, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Stanford University in California. He then traveled to Washington, DC, where he met with senior officials in the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development, followed by a roundtable luncheon co-hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and culminating in a public presentation co-hosted with InterAction, “40 Years of Combating Poverty, Illiteracy, Disease and Social Injustice.” In Asia, The Asia Foundation’s well-respected blog, conducted an exclusive face-to-face Q&A with Sir Fazle, which you can read online here.