BRAC Liberia: Reaching, Serving and Creating Opportunities for the Underprivileged

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BRAC Liberia NGO has reached 12,339 agriculture and livestock, vulnerable, and smallholder farmers whom it enabled to increase their income and resilience, and increased access to sufficient and nutritious food.

BRAC is a development organisation founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in February 1972, soon after the liberation of Bangladesh to help settle returning refugees. Over the past 40 years, BRAC has developed, tested, and implemented development and poverty alleviation programmes in post-war and post-disaster contexts. This has enabled the organisation to replicate the same models in distressed countries in Asia and Africa. BRAC currently operates in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

BRAC International has been operating in Liberia through its country office BRAC Liberia since 2008. In recognition of its invaluable contributions to the socio-economic development of Liberia through sponsorship of multi-sectoral programmes, the organisation was awarded the highest national award “Knight Official of the Liberian Humane Order of African Redemption”.

BRAC Liberia operations are conducted through two distinct legal entities namely: BRAC Liberia NGO and BRAC Liberia Microfinance Company Limited (BLMCL).

  1. BRAC Liberia as NGO

BRAC Liberia is a non-governmental organisation which has successfully implemented a suite of holistic, integrated programmes focused on the following sectors: Food security and livelihoods, Education, Microfinance, Health and Adolescents and Youth related projects. The organisation is currently reaching vulnerable Liberians in ten counties through 33 branch office locations. The branch offices are located in the following counties ; Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Gedeh, and Gbarpolu. Our human resources comprise of over 500 staff, of which 95% are national staffs and majority (63%) of whom are women.

Food Security and Livelihoods (FSL) Programme

The programme’s core objective is to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition in Liberia, and to support a shift from subsistence to commercial farming. This is achieved through providing trainings on poultry and livestock production, climate smart agriculture, and production of nutrition rich crop varieties, diversified agricultural crop production, and post-harvest storage and processing, to the target populations. In addition, the programme provides approved farmers with agricultural inputs including; Day old chicks, pigs, goats, sheep, stress tolerant rice and cassava cuttings. Furthermore, the programme also provided “Cash for work” to most vulnerable household affected with disease like HIV or Ebola, disability, who engaged in casual labor, relied on hunting and gathering in the forest, and the landless, especially the female headed household.

The programme has reached 12,339 agriculture and livestock, vulnerable, and smallholder farmers whom it enabled to increase their income and resilience, and increased access to sufficient and nutritious food.

Additionally, the programme runs a poultry hatchery which produced 78,980 day-old-chicks. This is complemented by a chicken feed mill which produced 119 metric tons of feed over the period 2017 and 2018. The seed farm produced 1.5 tons of quality rice seed (Nerica L 19 variety) which was distributed among 1,500 project beneficiaries across the areas. BRAC FSL programme activities are implemented in 6 counties including; Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Montserrado.

Education Programme          

This programme has two main areas of focus: early childhood development / education, and primary education. Since the inception of the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) now Liberia Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) Programme in September, 2016, BRAC Liberia has stimulated teaching and learning thereby dramatically improving learning outcomes which can be validated by the IPA’s Report, 2017. Consequently, BRAC was contracted as the second largest implementing partner of the Ministry of Education in its “Partnership School for Liberia (PSL)” project.  Subsequently, BRAC was assigned to operate additional 13 schools in Grand Gedeh during Year 2 Programme to the initial 20 public primary schools in two counties; Lofa and Nimba. The programme is intended to; enhance learning outcomes for under age children.

Starting September, 2018, BRAC started implementing the Second chance project which focuses on increasing school enrollment, and provide basic education among out of school and school dropouts aged between 5 – 11 years. Enhancing the capacity of facilitators and project staffs’ is also entailed.  The project’s duration is 10 months during which it’s intended to reach 625 children in 2 districts (Klay and Suehn Mecca) located in Bomi County.

Health, Nutrition & WaSH Programme

After successful completion of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) Project and in 2017; we started another two projects – GFATM TB Project and MNHSD Project during Jul-Dec 2017. Through all these projects we sensitized women about maternal, child health, and referred clients to the nearby health centers to ensure improved health care services. Also, regular Health awareness sessions, community Mobilization, Health Campaigns were conducted on personal health and hygiene   issues. During 2017, CHPs covered 615,696 households and referred 78,156 clients to health institutions to seek health care related to maternal and child health issues like- Antenatal Care (ANC), safe delivery, Postnatal Care (PNC), Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI), Immunization and modern family planning methods. The program contributed towards better accessibility for health care among children. Children under five in catchments area of RMNCH project were 18% more likely to have received antimalarial drugs to treat malaria within 24 hours (RMNCH Report, 2017)

The center piece of this program is the Community Health Promoters (CHPs). As of today, BRAC Liberia Health Program has been developed and trained 889CHPs and 490 Traditional Trained Midwives (TTMs)  in all seven counties under different project; those who are locally active and working on voluntary basis.

Currently, we are implementing GFATM TB project (4th Phase) aiming to reduce morbidity and mortality of tuberculosis in Montserrado County, through providing; community mobilization and sensitization by conducting household visits, engaging in capacity building of CHPs and Government Community Health Volunteers (gCHVS), conducting campaigns on TB awareness, providing support for case identification, treatment, referrals, and providing joint monitoring and supervision. In addition, we will provide physiological and social support to TB patients during household visit, distribute IEC Materials and conduct awareness campaign among School Children in 10 selected schools in Monrovia. The project is scheduled to run from June – Dec 2018 initially and further extendable up to 2020.

Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA)

BRAC Liberia is implementing the ELA Programme in 4 counties (Bong, Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount and Margibi) in 60 safe spaces. The aim of the programme is to enhance economic and social empowerment of adolescent girls to help them overcome their challenges and contribute towards reduction in teenage pregnancy. The programme engages the community and parents through convening community and parents meetings.

Through their community volunteers commonly known as mentors, adolescents are provided with training on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), as well as encouraged to share knowledge and issues regarding SRH issues. It was based on this, BRAC Liberia was contracted by UNFPA to copperiest a comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) strategy which is about to be validated by the Government of Liberia.

In addition, girls aged 15 – 19 years are provided with financial literacy training and access to loans for business enterprises. The Programme has reached 2562, provided training in financial literacy to 1838 and life skills training to 1800 adolescents. Further, 1067 adolescents have been provided with livelihood trainings and practical livelihood skills and input to 200 adolescents. During August, 2018, programme ensured provision of entrepreneurship skills training/Business coaching and mentoring to 125 adolescent within it four (4) operating counties in Liberia.

Targeting the Ultra-Poor: Graduation Programme

This is a pilot project which is going to be implemented in Unification Town-Air Port & Kakata branch in Margibi County and in Gbarnga branch in Bong County. The project is intended to eliminate extreme poverty among 750 women in ultra-poor households. Thus contribute towards informing national policy re-formulation or design regarding social safety mechanisms.

The project’s approach entails providing trainings in both life skills and livelihood and support related to livelihoods, financial inclusion, social empowerment, health water and sanitation.

  1. BRAC Liberia Microfinance Company Limited (BLMCL)

This is a company which is separate from the NGO, and is regulated by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). It focuses on providing financial services to the poor people, especially women who have no access to any financial services, and no assets to offer as collateral security for borrowings, but have income generating ideas. The loans to borrowers are collateral free; hence the business model is that first time borrowers are given small loans which gradually grow as they establish a track record with the company. Customers can take loans as small as LDR 10000 as long they have a sustainable income generating project.

Being a limited company, it is required by its stakeholders to carry out its operations in a self-sustaining manner, therefore it follows sound commercial business practices that ensure it remains in business for the foreseeable future for the benefit of its customers and other stakeholders.

The company continues to make diligent efforts to carefully balance the cost of its services to customers and the need to be operationally self-sufficient; hence it has kept interest rates low and consistently at the lower end of the range charged by comparable institutions operating in the country and in the region

Micro and Small business enterprises are catered for under the company’s Small Enterprise Programmeme (S.E.P) and the Micro, Medium Small Enterprise (M.S.M.E) Programme where the loan size reaches over US$1200.

Microfinance Performance Overview:

Owing to its limited sources of funding, the company’s collateral free loans have a short term duration with options to pay in 6 months or 12 months. This enables the money to benefit a larger pool of needy women. The short repayment cycle enables it to collect over 98% of loans, which demonstrates the determination to conserve capital, make a small surplus and stay in business for the foreseeable future.  The company is delighted with its 30 day Portfolio at Risk of 1.25% against an international benchmark of 3%.

The company provided loans to 26,899 clients to whom it disbursed USD9.95million in 2018 through 25 branches in 6 counties with 11 branches in Monrovia where there is a concentration of enterprising women, and 14 branches outside of Monrovia. There are plans to expand to other counties over the next 5 years using mainly surpluses from current operating activities. Those branches presently employed 221 staff because of the labour intensive nature of the business.

BRAC Liberia ascribes the success of its operations to the excellent relations that it has with, and the support from, key stakeholders who include the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Central Bank of Liberia, among others; to its dedicated staff; the donor community and the hard working people of Liberia.

“BRAC Liberia will continue working with the Liberian people and its partners in the fight to improve livelihood through implementing various programmes across the country.”

Signed By:Management
BRAC Liberia
Old Road, Divine Town
1000 Monrovia, 10 Liberia

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Mr Goodlin,
    Would like to Know if you are related to Magdalene Goodlin? Went to Seventh Day Adventist Elementary in the 80s. We were best friends. Been looking for her for years. My maiden name is Stewart. Cherie A Stewart
    Thanks,
    Cherie

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