The need to combat extreme poverty and drive systemic change has never been more urgent. The impact of COVID-19 has created a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions putting millions of the world’s poorest people at risk of being left behind without resources or support to overcome the shock.
While the reach of COVID-19 may be global, the impact it is having on different populations varies. At the beginning of 2020, an estimated 700 million people lived in extreme poverty around the world. By the end of 2021, up to 150 million more people could be forced to join them, unraveling decades of progress toward poverty alleviation.


We must act with urgency and design programs that meet the increasing and evolving needs of those living in extreme poverty – programs that are comprehensive, adaptive, and immediate but for long-term needs – to build resilience and support sustainable recovery.


BRAC’s audacious idea is to scale our proven Graduation intervention through government adoption, accelerating the rate of change and lifting 4.6 million households, over 21 million people, out of extreme poverty over the next six years. The solution to reaching millions more people living in extreme poverty and creating change at the systems level is clear: Governments must take the helm and be equipped to scale up and sustain the Graduation approach.
Graduation is the first scalable solution proven to break the poverty trap. It combines a sequenced and time bound set of interventions customized to meet multidimensional needs of those in extreme poverty within the local context. It comes down to a set of four core “pillars” for success, suitable for diverse contexts that can also be built into and complement existing government programs:

Meeting Basic Needs

Income Generation

Finance & Savings

Social Empowerment

Each ‘pillar’ complements, enables, and amplifies the others’ outcomes, leading to powerful and durable change that continues to improve years after households have “graduated” from the program. This package of direct services is a low-cost investment for sustainably lifting households out of extreme poverty.


BRAC will employ two key strategies that are critical to both influencing and strengthening government action to institute large-scale systems change: Working in selected geographies to support government adoption, and helping to shape the global dialogue to influence action in these geographies and beyond.
BRAC will explore a combination of the activities based on the best pathway in each target geography context: (1) government relationship building; (2) technical assistance (3) implementation partner capacity-building (4) piloting Graduation; and (5) community mobilization.


BRAC is the largest scale implementer of Graduation, having reached more than 2 million households in Bangladesh and developed and implemented adaptations of the approach in 14 countries covering a range of different contexts and vulnerabilities. An additional 3.1 million families have lifted themselves from extreme poverty through adaptation of BRAC’s Graduation approach by other organizations. BRAC UPGI will build on the incredible success of BRAC’s Graduation program in Bangladesh and lift millions more people from extreme poverty.

But we cannot do it alone.

The level of effort, programming, resources, and tenacity required to eradicate extreme poverty vastly exceeds the capabilities of a single organization or the Audacious funding. BRAC UPGI’s goal to lift 21 million more people out of extreme poverty by 2026, is only the beginning.
To truly move the needle on SDG1, ending poverty in all its forms, we must work together more effectively and commit significantly more resources to combating this issue. With support from this new investment, BRAC will vastly scale its efforts to partner with governments, multilateral institutions, NGOs, and civil society, in countries where we can have maximum impact and drive greater uptake for Graduation.
If we can expand how governments in low-income countries think about safety nets and social protection programs for extremely poor populations, integrating Graduation, millions more people will develop sustainable livelihoods and build resilience.
Housed at TED, and supported by The Bridgespan Group, the project is a unique partnership between some of the most respected organizations in philanthropy and the public. Launched in 2018, The Audacious Project attempts to address a major frustration faced by the world’s change-makers. Without access to venture capital or stock markets, social entrepreneurs have to pitch donors one-by-one, often a deeply inefficient process for all involved. The Project aims to: (1) encourage the world’s greatest change-agents to dream bigger than ever before (2) shape their best ideas into viable multi-year plans and (3) present those ideas in a compelling way to potential supporters. Meet the 2020 Audacious Projects cohort.



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