BRAC is one of the largest development organizations in the world, with over 100,000 employees worldwide. It strives to alleviate poverty through empowerment and creating opportunities for the poor. BRAC works on many different fronts in order to combat issues of poverty: focusing on empowerment of women and farmers, grassroots organization, health, education, inclusive financial services, and self-sustainment. The organization began as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee (BRAC) in 1972 to provide relief and rehabilitation following the end of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation. Over the last decade, the organization has extended its work beyond Bangladesh to 11 additional countries. The main values of the organization are innovation, integrity, inclusion and effectiveness.
Definition of Problem
Historically, Internet usage in Bangladesh has been quite low. Even cell phone usage was fairly limited until the last decade. However, with the recent expansion of Internet coverage in Bangladesh by Grameen Bank and others, coupled with the falling price of smart phones, there has been an explosion of use among youth. Often they use exclusively Facebook, as some providers make this a free service! This increasing utilization of mobile technology means new ways to provide services, mobilize communities, and much more. BRAC prides itself in being a “high touch, low tech” organization. But recently we have started exploring ways that we could better engage with our clients and communities through digital means, either via basic phones (calls, SMS) or Internet. Our recent partnership with Maya.com.bd is an example of how we are expanding to think more about digital opportunities.
BRAC would like a DAT team to help with the following questions:
- How could BRAC use Facebook to better serve or connect with its clients (especially youth)?
- What are the ways in which mobile technology has been used by other leading development organizations at scale (say with over 10,000 people) to promote their work?
- Specifically, what are some mobile tools/models that might help us with:
- Helping clients report complaints or ask questions
- Asking for help (say in the case of a child marriage or domestic dispute) or find the nearest location for a BRAC clinic
- Do quick opinion polls or well-being surveys (either with staff or clients)
Initial Steps and Options
- Talk to Rashed Kabir (and others if needed) about what BRAC has done and any innovative models of which we are aware, and map mobile phone usage and patterns in Bangladesh.
- Identify some models of relevance to let BRAC prioritize and select those that are of most interest to us.
Definition of Success
Report on successful models of internet/mobile behavior and penetration in Bangladesh; and recommendation for some potential pilots for BRAC, including any best practices and/or suggestions on potential partners/solutions that we could follow up with.