When Moushumi “Mou” Khan, 46, was growing up in Ann Arbor, her father Abdul Majid Khan, a nuclear engineer and graduate of University of Michigan, often spoke of wanting to share his many blessings with the people of his native village of Bagdumur in Bangladesh. He even asked to be buried there.
“My father loved Bangladesh. Even though my paternal grandfather was a landowner, they didn’t have modern sanitation or electricity. My father came to the United States in the 1970’s to study at the University of Michigan and really lived the American Dream. He was ramping up his lifelong vision of creating a way for Bangladeshi-Americans to philanthropically invest talent and treasure when he suffered a fatal winter-weather related automobile accident just down the road from our family home,” said Khan.
Mou Khan, a civil rights lawyer, took charge of her father’s Foundation for Charitable Activities in Bangladesh (FCAB) in 2014. The idea was to create an effective channel through which non-resident Bangladeshis could work with the rural poor. Initially, FCAB’s goal was to focus on lifting the living standards and economic opportunities of Bagdumur and then use the lessons learned to scale the success. Khan now sees FCAB’s mission growing much wider, quickly.
The Khan family, plus their wide network of friends, shared a charitable dream driven to provide novel forms of aid in order to rapidly advance quality of life and economic opportunity. It’s a prestigious philanthropic calling, very much under the world’s lens. Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank who is credited with pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus earned his doctorate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but returned to Bangladesh to help his countrymen.
The Khan family, as well as the Bangladeshi – American community in which they circulate, knows Yunus well. However, the FCAB contingent aims to build a major non-governmental organization which isn’t a bank. Once FCAB figures out how to effectively improve water quality, sanitation, electricity access and other infrastructure issues, alongside healthcare delivery, plus ways to stimulate commerce, they’ll scale. One goal is to create the first solar-powered “smart village” in Bangladesh.