June 22, 2008
The Biggest Thing You've Never Heard Of
I’m in Princeton visiting Dan so it’s good timing that I just ran across a story about the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) — the biggest, most important organization you’ve never heard of.
When we went to Bangladesh back in 2001, it was in part because we were fascinated with the Grameen Bank, a microcredit pioneer that’s well-known in the West, in part simply because they have, uh, really good PR.
By the time we left, Grameen had been totally eclipsed in our esteem by BRAC, which does more, for more people, more efficiently, and (importantly) in a much more holistic way than Grameen. BRAC essentially fills the void left by the corruption and confusion of Bangladesh’s real government. And remember, this really matters: There are more than 150 million people in Bangladesh!
I’m reminded of it by FP’s list of the world’s most powerful NGOs: BRAC is one of five listed, along with the Gates Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. It has an annual budget of half a billion dollars and a staff of 110,000. Wow.