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Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative

Selected at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum to receive one year of support in 2020

Project led by : 


Geographical Area
Inclusive Economy

Launched in 2013, the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI) aims to position the Graduation approach as a key driver to end poverty in all its forms. The UPGI team provides technical expertise to governments and other NGOs to enable adoption of quality Graduation programs, and advocates for a global shift in priority toward the ultra-poor in policy-making arenas. BRAC's Graduation programming has already reached more than 2 million households globally in 11 countries throughout Asia and Africa.


While the world has made significant progress in reducing poverty in recent decades, more than 400 million people still live in a precarious state of extreme poverty so severe that traditional development interventions fail to reach them. BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative works to support these individuals and families that are stuck in a poverty trap by providing a pathway out of persistent uncertainty and destitution through the Graduation approach. Graduation — an approach BRAC pioneered in 2002 and based on the world’s largest and longest running Randomized Control Trial (RCT) — is designed to meet the complex and interconnected needs of these hard-to-reach populations. Breaking the cycle of extreme poverty requires a holistic approach: in addition to providing assets such as livestock, we support program participants with livelihood and financial skills trainings to make these assets productive; personal coaching to instill confidence and hope; basic health care for families; and more. Through a set of carefully sequenced steps, participants graduate from a state of severe destitution to a level where they can maintain sustainable livelihoods with dignity.


BRAC, founded and led out of Bangladesh since 1972, is an international non-governmental organization that leads in developing and implementing cost-effective, evidence-based programs to empower the most marginalized people in poor, conflict-prone, and post-disaster settings. BRAC has reached the lives of more than 120 million people across 11 countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It takes a holistic approach to alleviating poverty, running programs in education, healthcare, microfinance, women’s and girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, and more. Its network of entities also operates a number of social enterprises, a bank, a university and the world’s largest mobile money platform, bKash. In 2019, BRAC was ranked the #1 NGO in the world for the fourth consecutive year by NGO Advisor. Beginning in 2002, BRAC developed and pioneered the Ultra-Poor Graduation approach, a sequenced set of interventions targeting the ultra-poor, a subset of the extreme poor who are trapped in the most intractable situations of poverty.

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