Runa Khan, a free spirit in humanitarian aid

By Camille FratiLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Modest but powerful, the 64-year-old Bangladeshi has been at the head of Friendship, a leading organisation in her country, for 20 years – while always keeping a relation to Luxembourg.

A well-known and respected figure in Bangladesh, Runa Khan still goes mostly unseen when she is in Luxembourg, being noticed only by the colourful saris she loves. However, for more than 20 years she has been coming regularly to the first European country to have seen the creation of a branch of her organisation, Friendship, which positions itself between NGO and social enterprise. This week, she is beginning a tour of development aid actors, starting with the Ministry for Development Cooperation. In March, she was invited at the European Investment Bank to announce a loan granted to Bangladesh to speed up the vaccination of the population against Covid-19 – a campaign for which the Bangladeshi government relied on Friendship's logistics in certain remote regions of the country.

Today, with 4,000 employees in Bangladesh and five branches in Europe, Friendship has exceeded the expectations of its founder. "I had no intention of creating a large organisation", she says. Nor did anyone expect such success at the time. "Some people thought that it was a fantasy for this woman who lacked nothing, that the idea would pass her by, especially as many other NGOs were already active in Bangladesh", recalls Marc Elvinger, president of Friendship Luxembourg.

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