'Employment key to poverty eradication'

By Patrick Jaramogi

Poverty eradication and financial empowerment can only be address if issues of unemployment are tackled Brac founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said on Monday.

“Countries in Sub Saharan Africa such as Uganda have issues of poverty and low literacy. We want to help Uganda get its people out of poverty, but this needs joint effort,” he said.  

Abed, the World’s renowned leading Non-Governmental Organisation (BRAC) founder and chairperson made remarks during the opening of a three day Global Learning Meeting (GLM) held at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe yesterday.

Over 70 participants drawn from 13 countries across the world are attending the meeting geared towards enhancing financial and literacy skills among the youth. Some of the countries include; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri-Lanka, Liberia, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone the US and UK.

Abed a born of Bangladesh is known the world over for raising funds for the poverty eradication.

He told the press that worlds’ poor are poor because they are powerless.

“You cannot talk of poverty eradication without addressing issues of unemployment and you can’t address unemployment unless the youth are educated. With education poverty can be tackled,” he said.

He noted that it needs government, civil society, private sector and the citizens to unite in order to address these.

BRAC (originally Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee, but today formally known as BRAC), was set up in 1972 to deal with the long-term task of improving living conditions of the rural poor.

“BRAC’s primary objectives are alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor that is why we have partnered with the MasterCard Foundation to raise $46.6m (sh123b) to support education in Uganda,” he said.

"As two countries from the global south, Bangladesh and Uganda have much in common," said Sir Abed. "Like Bangladesh, Uganda has made incredible strides in recent years. The evidence shows that when poor people have the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, they will do the hard work necessary to move forward and empower themselves. And with right set of organizational tools, I strongly believe that poor people can empower themselves and become actors in history.”

Under Abed’s leadership, spanning more than four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of scale and diversity of its interventions. Recently, BRAC was ranked as the number one non-governmental organisation in the Global Journal’s list of top 100 NGOs in the world.

Abed brought BRAC to Africa in 2006, and today it is active in five African countries, spreading poverty solutions.

BRAC Uganda was launched in 2006 and has quickly scaled up to become the largest NGO in Uganda, with programmes in microfinance, small enterprise, education, agriculture, livestock and poultry, health and adolescent empowerment.

“One reason for my optimism is the energy and enterprise of Uganda’s young people, one of the greatest assets any society can have. Government, civil society and the private sector need to harness this energy by engaging directly with young leaders,” he noted.

Today, BRAC Uganda operates 150 branches in 74 districts, with a loan portfolio disbursed of $124 million.

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