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The Economist's end poverty sub-editor and first journalist of the internet's entrepreneurial revolution
Before my father Norman Macrae died in 2010, he set up a small legacy for mainly student female journalist to visit bangladesh to help journalise how women had been empowered to build that nation born in 1971 tenth most populous and 2nd poorest in the world
HOW DID BRAC BUILD AN EDUCATIONAL ECONOMY
I was privileged to enjoy several meetings with sir fazle abed of brac- he was concerned because the nobel peace laureate muhammad yunus had his system confiscated by the government and quite frankly the way western educators and the microcreditsummit process launched (from 1997 onwards) by the clintons explained microfinance was in critical (systemic and exponential growth) ways the exact opposite of how brac truly empowered women to build the bangladeshi economy - far the largest girls empowerment system ever designed with the exception of China. Brac is the benchmark case at huge scale of how healthy and skills-educated societies grow a place across generations not vice versa.
Nowhere in the 75 years since world war 2 has there been a servant leader like Fazle Abed. Before dedicating 50 years to working with the poorest village women he had been the regional ceo for the shell oil multinational. Then at age 35 a cyclone killed half a million people all around him. He concluded that the oil business was meaningless compared with human development work, returned to london to settle up has affairs and to see his flat in Putney, and returned to bangladesh in 1972 with about 20000 dollars. Right from the start, Abed's idea was to maximise community capacity - firstly by peer to training of how to build the minimal village homes but in a way that would be monsoon proof and as far as possible cyclone proof. Because of his experience with global business he was trusted to organise bottom-up disaster relief processes local capacity building was different to the norm of a global relief agency flying in , doing the relief, and then flying out again. It also meant that BRAC's dna was always about skills training- its servant leaders did not see themselves as banker or adminstrators but coaches as well as inventors of microfranchise designs- the most effective and efficient way that villagers could make things or provide services including health and safety.