BRAC’s Graduation Approach

BRAC’s Graduation Approach is a comprehensive, time-bound and sequenced set of interventions that aim to enable extreme poor households to achieve key milestones towards sustainable livelihoods and resilience, in order to progress along a pathway out of extreme poverty. While adapted to meet local challenges and opportunities, all BRAC Graduation programmes globally have at their foundation the following core pillars:


  • Livelihoods promotion: An asset transfer, or cash transfer or loan with which to procure a market-viable asset, OR access to employment; plus technical training;
  • Social protection: Preventive, protective and promotive mechanisms to support basic income security such as consumption support and crisis relief, and access to health, education, and employment opportunities;
  • Financial inclusion: Direct access to convenient, formal or informal savings facilities, accompanied with financial literacy training;
  • Social empowerment: Regular check-ins and life-skills support that build confidence, promote social inclusion, build resilience at a household level, and promote positive behavioural change relevant to enabling self-sustainability, security and well-being;  

All four pillars are to be closely integrated, whereby elements of one pillar will complement those of another. Working together, these interdependent interventions lead to strong outcomes at the household level including increased or improved assets, food security, savings and financial inclusion, health outcomes, social integration and productive skills.

In addition to satisfying the four pillars of Graduation, BRAC applies the principles it used to develop the proven Graduation approach in Bangladesh and elsewhere, to adapt and support effective graduation in new contexts:

  • Adaptation to the local context
  • Targeting to the poorest or a specific vulnerable population
  • Time-bound interventions with systematic linkages to an ecosystem of support that enables participants to thrive after Graduation
  • Robust Graduation criteria adapted to the local poverty landscape and closely monitored
  • Close oversight and monitoring of participant progress

Graduation Criteria

Graduation occurs when households achieve economic and social advancement measured by several criteria over the course of 24 months. Criteria vary given the social and geographic context of the programme.

These are the core criteria for the Bangladesh programme:

  • At least 3 sources of income
  • Asset value doubled since initial transfer
  • Household consumes nutritional meals at least twice/day with protein (meat/fish/egg) at least once/week
  • Participant engaged in household decision-making (e.g. asset purchase)
  • Improvement in home condition (e.g. corrugated roofs )
  • Attends social or community events
  • Access to sanitary latrine and clean drinking water
  • Additional requirements where applicable:
  • School aged children attend school
  • No under-age marriages
  • Use of family planning

It is important to note that “Graduation” is not synonymous with a threshold past which households are suddenly resilient to the pressures of poverty. Participants of Graduation programmes are the most vulnerable of the poor and can still backslide if persistent shocks inhibit their trajectory. The continued success of graduated households is greatly aided by the presence of support services which reinforce a household’s pathway out of poverty, including access to finance, mainstream development programmes and government-led social protection programmes.

In terms of impact at the household level, Graduation is signified by greater household income and productive asset value, greater consumption levels, increased savings and higher social integration, among other impact measures.