Key Findings


Proof-of-concept tested, and with increasing interest from various stakeholders and countries in adapting the approach, we are at a moment of tremendous opportunity for international scale and adaptation.

Case Study: Adapting BRAC’s Graduation Program to the Changing Poverty Context in Bangladesh 

This case study explores BRAC’s experience evolving the graduation approach over the last 20 years, paying special attention to the lessons for governments and NGOs alike that have emerged from the most recent periods of implementation. Specifically, this case study looks at how, since the program started in 2002, BRAC has sought to ensure high program quality and maximize sustainable impacts, at scale, in a changing poverty context.

Isabel Whisson; Rozina Haque; Julie Kedroske; Munshi Sulaiman; Imran Matin; Narayan Das; Syed Hashemi (2021)

Impact and Reach of BRAC’s Graduation Approach

In 2002, BRAC pioneered the Ultra-Poor Graduation (Graduation) approach in Bangladesh, the first holistic intervention to help people lift themselves from extreme poverty, after recognizing that existing poverty alleviation programs were not reaching the poorest people. Through the provision of livelihood assets, cash transfers, and continued mentoring and training, the Graduation approach addresses participants’ multidimensional needs within the local context and helps the world’s poorest people transit.

BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (2020)

Why Do People Stay Poor?

Clare Balboni, Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Maitreesh Ghatak and Anton Heil (March 2020)

There are two views as to why people stay poor. The equal opportunity view emphasizes that differences in individual traits like talent or motivation make poor people choose low productivity jobs. The poverty traps view emphasizes that access to opportunities depends on initial wealth and hence poor people have no choice but to work in low productivity jobs.

The Gender Transformative Potential of Graduation Programs – Policy Brief

Fundación Capital (December 2019)

Multifaceted social protection programs have been shown to significantly enhance the material well being of the poor and ultra-poor, globally. To what extent have these improvements meaningfully changed the lives of poor women in non-material ways?

Eliminating Extreme Poverty: Comparing the Cost-Effectiveness of Livelihood, Cash Transfer, and Graduation Approaches

Munshi Sulaiman, Nathanael Goldberg, Dean Karlan, Aude de Montesquiou (December 2016)

Targeted interventions that sustainably improve the lives of poor people will be a critical component in eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. The poorest households tend to be physically and socially isolated and face disadvantages across multiple dimensions, which makes moving out of extreme poverty challenging and costly. This paper compares…

Impact and Spillover Effects of an Asset Transfer Programme on Malnutrition

Wameq A Raza, Ellen Van de Poel (April 2016)

Evidence shows that ultra-poor households are typically unable to participate in mainstream poverty alleviation programmes. In response, an international NGO called BRAC in Bangladesh implemented the Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction: Targeted Ultra-Poor (CFPR: TUP) programme that explicitly targets those living below…

Labor Markets and Poverty in Village Economies

Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, Munshi Sulaimany (March 2016)

We study how women’s choices over labor activities in village economies correlate with poverty and whether enabling the poorest women to take on the activities of their richer counterparts can set them on a sustainable trajectory out of poverty…

Transforming the Economic Lives of the Ultra Poor

Clare Balboni, Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Upaasna Kaul (December 2015)

A livelihood programme providing productive assets and skills training to the poorest women in Bangladesh village economies helps them move into more stable self-employment and achieves significant reductions in poverty…

Building Stable Livelihoods for the Ultra-Poor

Alison Fahey (September 2015)

This bulletin summarizes the results from seven randomized evaluations of the Graduation approach, a multifaceted livelihood program
for ultra-poor people. This particular approach was designed by BRAC and has since been adapted in eight countries with support from
the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Ford Foundation…

A Multifaceted Program Causes Lasting Progress for the Very Poor: Evidence from Six Countries

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Nathanael Goldberg, Dean Karlan, Robert Osei, William Parienté, Jeremy Shapiro, Bram Thuysbaert, Christopher Udry (May 2015)

From Extreme Poverty to Sustainable Livelihoods: A Technical Guide to the Graduation Approach

This Technical Guide distills lessons from the 10 CGAP-Ford Foundation graduation pilots implemented from 2008-2014. This Guide will be updated in 2016.

Aude de Montesquiou Tony Sheldon with Frank F. DeGiovanni and Syed M. Hashemi (September 2014)

Reaching the Poorest: Lessons from the Graduation Model

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) cites the Graduation approach as a leading innovation for families beyond the reach of traditional development programs (March 2011).

Syed M. Hashemi and Aude de Montesquiou (March 2011)