BRAC has set up 16 social enterprises addressing community needs and providing jobs to many. Its flagship social enterprise is the retail outlet Aarong Craft Shops in Bangladesh, reaches more than 65,000 artisans. Its dairy business, BRAC Dairy, collects milk from 54,000 marginalized farmers and has 20-30% of market share.
With the profit, BRAC can offer free education programs to build skills and training for decent jobs in growth sectors.
Around 1980, funding for BRAC’s programmes was nearly 100% donors. BRAC pioneered the first sustainable social business privitization model. By the mid 1990s, BRAC had already reduced external funding to about 50%. Today, the organization generates 80% of its $485 million budget from its wholly owned social businesses.
Place: Bangladesh (70,000 villages), Afghanistan (4854 schools), Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
Scale: 110 million poor people per year are impacted (75% of the Bangladeshi population), 2 million children enrolled in schools
- Child mortality rate in Bangladesh dropped from 20% to 5%
- Built the Bangladesh’s skills sector, helping people to get out of poverty
- Supporting entrepreneurs
- Improving working conditions with SMEs and strengthening value chains
BRAC initially concentrated on programmes that included agriculture, fisheries, cooperatives, rural crafts, adult literacy, health and family planning, vocational training for women and construction of community centres.
In 1974, BRAC set up its first social business to finance its programmes : a printing press. Owning a press was a way to cut printing costs and to open up the future relevance of schools curricula and cultural evolution. In its first year of operation, the press made $17,400 in profits. In 2007, it was generating $340,000 in profits
BRAC used the profits from its printing press business to fight dehydration, the leading cause of high child mortality rate in Bangladesh. BRAC trained 4,000 oral rehydration workers (ORWs) and then sent them out to educate some 30,000 families on how to make an electrolyte-rich fluid for children with diarrhea. BRAC used a performance-based incentive system for the workers: the more each parent remembered, the higher the ORW’s salary. The program played a major role in halving the country’s infant mortality rates.
While the oral rehydration campaign was in full force, BRAC launched the social business of Aarong Craft Shops. Aarong helps 65,000 rural artisans market and sell their handicrafts and has become the most popular handicraft marketing operation in Bangladesh.
Using revenues from Aarong, BRAC began testing microfinance and primary education initiatives. When the oral rehydration campaign concluded in the 1990s, BRAC was ready to scale up its most successful microfinance and education programs.
BRAC also trains and employs workers in its dairy and milk collection center, trained workers to inseminate or vaccinate cows, trained workers to become para veterinarians, or trained silkworm rearers and spinners.
- In 2001, BRAC established a university called BRAC University.
- BRAC’s Informal schooling system in 2007 has established : 20,000 pre-primary, 32,000 primary, 2000 secondary schools.
- To provide education through internet, BRAC partnered with San Francisco- based gNet to create bracNet, which is building Bangladesh’s high-speed network from scratch.
- BRAC has also started to replicate internationally, in Afghanistan (4854 schools), Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
- BRAC is the world’s largest non-governmental organization with over 120,000 employees.