BRAC was founded in Bangladesh in 1972 and has since built on its roots in the global south and is now one of the world's largest development organisations, creating impact at scale across Asia and Africa.
BRAC's Graduation approach is a comprehensive, timebound, integrated and sequenced set of interventions that enable extreme and ultra-poor households to achieve socioeconomic resilience in order to progress along a pathway out of extreme poverty. Participants become the agents of their own development and make sustainable progress in overcoming extreme poverty.
Through the Graduation programme, BRAC builds the capacity of the poorest, known as the ultra-poor, to move beyond extreme poverty. The programme includes training in life and technical skills, knowledge and leadership needed to be self-reliant so they can meet their own basic needs, improve their communities and build better futures for themselves and their children.
BRAC pioneered this model in Bangladesh, and after successfully testing and scaling the pilot, is now providing technical assistance to governments across the world to adopt the model. Today, more than 99 Graduation programmes exist in over 44 countries around the world, impacting over 3.1 million households (14 million people). It is projected that by 2030, Graduation will reach 12.3 million households or an estimated 53.2 million individuals.
While adapted to meet local challenges and opportunities, all BRAC Graduation programmes globally have at their foundation the following core pillars:
Social protection: Provides preventive, protective, and promotive mechanisms to support basic income security such as consumption support, crisis relief, and access to health, and education.
Livelihoods promotion: An asset transfer, cash transfer, or loan, with which to procure a market-viable asset along with technical skills training to manage the asset or access employment opportunities.
Financial inclusion: Direct access to convenient, formal or informal financial services, accompanied with financial literacy training.
Social empowerment: Regular check-ins and life skills support that build confidence and resilience, and promote social inclusion and positive behavioral change relevant to self-sustainability, security, and well-being.
Working together, these interdependent interventions lead to strong outcomes at the household level including increased or improved assets, food security, savings, financial inclusion, health outcomes, social integration, and productive skills.
The design of complementary interventions for Graduation should include the following key steps:
Analysis of the specific needs and barriers that participants (according to poverty level, gender etc.) face in each context, and the opportunities to create synergies towards productive inclusion.
Consistent targeting between the interventions informed by the core Graduation pillars so that the poorest and other vulnerable groups are not excluded.
In-depth market analysis and market linkages to identify suitable livelihood options for participants and provide direct access to producers.
Determining the capacity of front-line staff to deliver intensive mentorship and support to participants. This deepens program impacts by improving participant's psychosocial resilience and confidence to continue on an upward trajectory.
Embedding Graduation programmes within a comprehensive national policy framework and other systems-based approaches that aim for pro-poor growth.
Breaking Out of the Poverty Trap: this chapter written by the Managing Director of our Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative. Lindsay Coates, provides a thorough overview of our work and also touches upon the local assessment done during the targeting phase of the intervention.
Understanding the Costs of Graduation, Investing in Long-Term Gains
Lessons Learned: How to Integrate Graduation into Existing Programming
Empowering Women to Escape Extreme Poverty
Example from Uganda
How does an organisation committed to helping people lift themselves from extreme poverty through graduation approaches adapt to address the increasing vulnerability of the ultra-poor and ensure their basic needs are met?
Read how BRAC is adapting as the global crisis is expanding, by supporting local communities and helping them respond to the Covid-19 outbreak, initially with humanitarian interventions, but transitioning quickly to socio-economic rehabilitation and development programmes:
Meeting Needs of World's Poorest During a Time of Crisis Part I
Meeting Needs of World's Poorest During a Time of Crisis Part II
Understanding how people are being affected by the crisis is crucial in order to meet their need and respond in an effective and efficient manners:
COVID-19 has devastated the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe. BRAC International carried out a first round of food and income security assessment in the first week of April, covering eight countries in Asia and Africa where BRAC operates. In the third week of April, BRAC conducted a second round of assessment on food and income security, this time covering nine countries – Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Philippines, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
How COVID-19 is affecting people around the world – a rapid assessment
A rapid assessment: from pandemic to poverty