Fazle Hasan Abed Biography

(Social Worker)

Birthday: April 27, 1936 (Taurus)

Born In: Baniachong, Bengal Presidency, British India

Fazle Abed was drawn into philanthropic activities after a cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1970. He took measures to provide relief to the victims of the disaster. After the Bangladesh-Pakistan partition, he returned from England to find his homeland drowned in poverty. This inspired the humanitarian to work in uplifting the country’s economy, and he formed ‘BRAC’, an organization devoted to his cause. This organization worked towards providing education, healthier living conditions and job opportunities to the less priviledged. As the organization grew, Fazle Abed reached out to people in other countries as well, eventually benefiting almost 130 million people across the world. The NGO also provides human rights support to people, advising them on legal matters, and educating them on the importance of development. In 2010, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his extraordinary efforts to alleviate poverty and for empowering the poor not only in Bangladesh but across the globe. He earned a number of national and international awards and accolades, including the 'Laudato Si' Award,' the 'WISE Prize for Education,' the 'World Food Prize,' the 'LEGO Prize,' the 'Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal,' the 'Spanish Order of Civil Merit,' and the 'Thomas Francis, Jr Medal in Global Public Health' among various others.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

Died At Age: 83


father: Siddiq Hasan

mother: Syeda Sufya Khatun

Born Country: Bangladesh

Humanitarian Human Rights Activists

Died on: December 20, 2019

place of death: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Founder/Co-Founder: BRAC, BRAC Bank

More Facts

education: Dhaka College, University of Glasgow

Humanitarian Work: In 1970, Abed formed an NGO called ‘HELP’, along with friends, with the aim of rehabilitating victims of the cyclone that struck the island of Manpura in Bangladesh, that year.

awards: The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership - 1980
The Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award - 1990
The Maurice Pate Award by UNICEF - 1992

The Olof Palme Prize - 2001
The Social Entrepreneurship Award by the Schwab Foundation - 2002
The International Activist Award by the Gleitsman Foundation - 2003
The UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award - 2004
The Henry R. Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership - 2007
The inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award - 2007
alli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Lifetime Achievement in Social Development and Poverty Alleviation - 2007
The David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award - 2008
Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) - 2010
The WISE Prize for Education - 2011
Open Society Prize - 2013
Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal by The Russian Children Foundation (RDF) - 2014

Childhood & Early Life

Fazle Hasan Abed was born to Siddiq Hasan and Syeda Sufya Khatun on April 27, 1936, in Baniachong, which is now called Habiganj, Bangladesh.

He pursued his secondary education from 'Pabna Zilla School', Bangladesh, and graduated twelfth grade from 'Dhaka College'. The young boy took up a course in Naval Architecture from the 'University of Glasgow' in Scotland.
Since constructing ships was not a feasible career option in his hometown, he continued his studies at the 'Chartered Institute of Management Accountants' in London, graduating in 1962.
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On his return to Bangladesh, he started working for 'Shell Oil Company' and soon was promoted to the post of 'Head of Finance Division'.

During the partition of East Bengal and Pakistan, Fazle Hasan Abed fled to England, and established 'Action Bangladesh', an effort to seek support in his country's fight for independence. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Abed returned home, to find the country economically drained. 

For this reason, the passionate social worker used all his savings to establish an NGO called ‘BRAC’, in the year 1972. Initially ‘BRAC’ stood for ‘Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee’, which later became ‘Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee’.

In 1981, this passionate philanthropist became a visiting scholar for ‘Harvard Institute of International Development’. The next year, he was appointed as a member of the ‘Board of Trustees’ for the ‘Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies’. He was also made the chairman of the ‘Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh’.

This famous benefactor became a member of the ‘World Bank NGO Committee’ at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986. The following year he was appointed a member of the ‘International Commission on Health Research for Development’, Harvard University, in USA.

Two years later, Fazle Hasan Abed became the Chairman of the ‘NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation’. He was also appointed to the ‘Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation' as a board member.

In 1993, an organization dealing with human rights, ‘Ain O Salish Kendra’, made this social worker their chairperson. The next year at Dhaka, he became a part of the ‘Board of Trustees’ of the ‘Centre for Policy Dialogue’.

From 1998 to 2005, Fazle Hasan Abed served as a member of renowned committees like the ‘Policy Advisory Group’ of ‘The World Bank’ in Washington, and the ‘Board of Governors’ of the ‘Institute of Development Studies’, affiliated to ‘Sussex University’.

He was also appointed as the Chairman of the governing body of ‘BRAC’ and the Commissioner for the ‘UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor’.

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In 2010, this famous Samaritan was a part of ‘UN Secretary General's Group of Eminent Persons for Least Developed Countries’. Two years later, he became a member of the ‘UN Secretary General's Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement’.

He retired as the chairperson of BRAC International and BRAC Bangladesh in August 2019, and became chair emeritus.

Major Works

Fazle Abed is known for founding the NGO called BRAC in 1972, one of the world's largest non-governmental organizations.

Awards and Achievements
Abed was honoured with the ‘Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership’ in 1980.
In 1992, he received UNICEF's ‘Maurice Pate Award’, which is given to commemorate the efforts of an organization or individual’s contribution towards the development of children.

Fazle Hasan Abed was awarded the ‘Olof Palme Prize’ in 2001, for his invaluable contributions towards the human race.

In 2002, this benefactor received the ‘Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award’, for addressing major social issues.
He was honoured in 2004 with the ‘Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development’, by the United Nations Development Programme.
This famous philanthropist was felicitated by the ‘Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’, with the ‘Gates Award for Global Health’, in 2004.
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In 2007, Fazle received the prestigious ‘Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership’, awarded by the ‘Claremont McKenna College’, California, for sharing the best practices in social development.
During the same time, he was presented with the ‘Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award’ for his mammoth contribution towards the development of his country.

Fazle Hasan Abed received the ‘David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award’ in 2008, for empowering the poor with education.

In 2008, his organization, ‘BRAC’ was given the ‘Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize’, for its philanthropic efforts.
In 2010, the British government awarded him with the rank of ‘Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George’, for his efforts to reduce poverty all over the world.

Fazle Abed also received other felicitations like ‘Entrepreneur for the World Award’, ‘Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal’ ‘Spanish Order of Civil Merit’ and the ‘Trust Women Hero Award’.

This benevolent social leader had received honorary doctorate degrees from many distinguished institutions in the US and UK, like the ‘Princeton University’, ‘Yale University’, ‘University of Manchester’, and ‘University of Oxford’.

Personal Life, Legacy & Death

Fazle Hasan Abed was married to Sarwat Abed—the couple had a son, Shameran and a daughter, Tamara.

Fazle Hasan Abed died on December 20, 2019, at the Apollo Hospital. He was hospitalized on account of breathing problems and physical weakness. He was 83.


Fazle Hasan Abed was the second person in his family to receive a knighthood from the British crown, the first being his great-uncle, Justice Nawab Sir Syed Shamsul Huda.

See the events in life of Fazle Hasan Abed in Chronological Order

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