Research & Analysis

From Extreme Poverty to Sustainable Livelihoods

The Graduation Approach aims to move people out of extreme poverty and into a sustainable livelihood. Pioneered by BRAC in Bangladesh, the Approach combines elements of social protection, livelihoods development, and access to finance. The package of services includes time-limited consumption support (cash or food), the delivery of assets such as livestock, skills training, coaching, and access to saving services. Six randomized evaluations studied more than 21,000 beneficiaries of the Graduation Approach across Ethiopia, Peru, India, Ghana, Pakistan, and Honduras between 2007 and 2014. A year after the program ended, participants in five of the six countries had increased income, improved food security, increased asset holdings and savings, reduced stress levels, and happier lives as a result of the program. The Graduation Approach holds promise as a cost-effective strategy to help the poorest on a pathway to economic stability: many governments, donors and NGOs hoping are now adapting the Approach to scale it up.

This Technical Guide distills lessons from the 10 CGAP-Ford Foundation graduation pilots implemented from 2008-2014. We plan to update this Guide in 2016 to incorporate new learning especially from the third-party implementers who have already started new pilots, or who will be launching their own programs using this year’s edition of the Guide as a tool.

As you read the publication, please consider the following questions:

  • Are there any gaps in the content?
  • Which sections require further clarification?
  • Do you have an illustrative story that would help paint a clearer picture to readers?
  • Are there controversial areas that need special attention?

Related Resources


A 2015 article in Science explains The Graduation Approach, a comprehensive method for improving the lives of the ultra-poor, boosts livelihoods, income, and health.
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