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Runa Khan

Founder and Executive Director of Friendship, a non-governmental organization supporting remote communities in Bangladesh. Ashoka Fellow, Rolex Laureate, and Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur. Member of the Board of Global Dignity, Country Chair of Global Dignity Bangladesh and Founder of Friendship International, which operates from five European countries, fundraising and building relationships for Friendship in Bangladesh. Work is based on simple logic, empathy, respect, a deep sense of justice and innovation. Member of the British Asian Trust Advisory Council in Bangladesh. Member of the Board of BIC Corporate Foundation, Member of the Business Advisory Board of the School of Business, Independent University Bangladesh.

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Friendship Bangladesh
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Non-profit Social Enterprise
Sustainable Development; Climate Change
Areas of Impact
South Asia, Bangladesh

Friendship Bangladesh

Friendship is a needs-based organization that begins by working in close collaboration with local communities to understand their needs. With its 16 years of day-to-day experience, Friendship has developed an integrated development approach that promotes ownership by local communities and facilitates effective collaboration to deliver services.

Friendship has developed an innovative healthcare system that includes three hospital ships, supported by strong field-level static and satellite clinics, and Friendship community medic-aides (FCMs). FCMs are micro social entrepreneurs, whose services fill a vacuum in the community in which they live and enable them to earn a reasonable amount of money. Friendship serves more than 3 million patients every year. More than 4,568 children who would otherwise not have access to any sort of schools attend Friendship primary schools. The children follow the government curriculum and receive lessons on ethical standards, citizens' rights, etc., preparing them to be better human beings and citizens. Some 1,100 adolescents and adults attend functional literacy classes in Friendship's 70 literacy education centres.

Its climate change adaptation and disaster management programme aims to enable vulnerable families and communities to mitigate the impact of natural disasters through advance preparation, risk reduction and infrastructure development, and provide emergency relief in times of crisis. In addition, six water treatment plants have been established in salinity prone areas, providing 80,000 people access to fresh drinking water. Its inclusive citizenship programme endeavours to make underprivileged beneficiaries aware of their citizens' rights and offer them access to justice and legal services. The programme reaches 249,000 people every year through its trained paralegals.

Its sustainable economic development programme brings access to finance to the ultra-poor through a risk sharing model interlinked with leasing for capital goods, cash, clearance of debts to middlemen, training, savings, and insurance against natural calamities. In an attempt to preserve the oldest heritage of Bengal, transmitted over 4,000 years of oral history, Friendship strives to preserve the skills of the builders of the traditional wooden boats of Bangladesh, whose craft is rapidly dying out with the onset of new technology. So far, 87 model boats have been built.


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