The United Nations has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The first of which is to end extreme poverty.

BRAC’s social innovation ‘targeting the ultra-poor’ develops basic entrepreneurship for those living on less than 70p per day, who are predominantly women with the aim of supporting them to build sustainable livelihoods and increase their income. Since its launch in 2002, the approach has graduated over 1.6 million families in Bangladesh and been replicated by BRAC and partners across Africa, South Asia and Latin America.


[tabby title=”The Ultra Poor”]

The Ultra Poor

The graduation approach targets a subset of the extreme poor, the ultra-poor, who live on less than 70 pence per day. Typically women living on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, they are frequently malnourished and living hand to mouth.


[tabby title=”A Time Bound Approach”]

A Time Bound Approach

The graduation approach is a time-bound, tested intervention that consists of seven components provided over the course of 24 months. Participants are chosen through a mapping exercise in which community members identify the poorest people living among them. Once chosen, participants are visited weekly by a coach and are taught savings, financial management and life skills. These women receive a food stipend, health care, and an asset transfer like a goat or a cow. Participants are also integrated into the community to ensure on-going support.

[tabby title=”Measured Success”]

Measured Success

BRAC piloted this approach in Bangladesh in the 1990’s and it has evolved over the last 25 years. BRAC uses this approach because it works to reach the ultra-poor and create sustainable livelihoods. Research in Bangladesh shows that 95 per cent of participants who have gone through this programme get out of ultra-poverty and stay out three years after the programme is complete.




The Economist

Leaving it behind: How to rescue people from deep poverty—and why the best methods work. The Economist explains the ultra-poor approach and how it came about whilst also delving into it’s impacts and potential. Click here to read the article.


International Growth Centre

Researchers from the International Growth Centre conduced a seven year randomized control trial to pin point the impact of our ultra-poor work. The results show that the women we worked with increased their earnings by 37 per cent and this was maintained or increased over seven years. Read their growth brief here.


The power of hope is real

We believe poverty is not just about income but also about confidence and self-esteem. Nick Kristof from the New York Times writes his thoughts about BRAC and aid in this article.

Sheepa Hafiza

Replicating the model

A persistent concern about efforts to improve living standards for the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty is figuring out what works and replicating it. Banerjee et al. describe encouraging results from a set of pilot projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru encompassing 11,000 households. Read more




How does this programme work? Watch this video to find out.