The Graduation Approach

 “It’s called the Graduation Approach, because the idea is to graduate people from poverty, not just treat its symptoms.” - Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 2019  

The Coalition uses the ​well proven poverty alleviation model​, The Graduation Approach. ​The model has been extensively used in the development community, and, as noted by ​the Economist is one of the few poverty alleviation strategies that works consistently across countries, cultures, and conditions. Economists argue that the model’s success is due to a combination of consumption support and asset/cash transfers, followed by up to two years of training, mentoring and encouragement. The consumption support ensures that the ultra-poor are not forced to spend, sell, or consume their future asset transfer – be this in the form of cash or in-kind for entrepreneurial activities. Further, continuous mentoring ensures capacity building for the extremely poor. This ensures that the program participant is on the right path to self-reliance and builds the skills necessary.  

The approach was pioneered by ​BRAC in Bangladesh in 2002 with a success rate of  95% poverty graduation . It has since been tested in over 43 countries worldwide. The approach guides households step-by-step from poverty to self-reliance. 

The duration of a graduation programme is approximately 18-36 months per household. It includes a minimum consumption support, market-oriented skills training for self- or wage employment, asset transfer, access to inclusive financial services through savings groups and/or linkages to formal services, access to social and legal services and continuous mentoring. Graduation programs are most effective when they build on existing services/programs. 

With an average cost of US$ 1,400, a CGAP study shows, it is highly cost effective as there is a clear end date to the programme.

What evidence shows: 

"One year after the end of the intervention, 36 months after the productive asset transfer... Income and revenues were significantly higher in the treatment group in every country" - Science, Banerjee et al 2015

"Formal randomized control trials of BRAC, mostly through the London School of Economics, have shown...(that) treatment groups do significantly better over time. The improvement, in livelihoods, income, kids in school, and healthcare, actually gets better each year." Yale School of Management, Prof. Tony Sheldon

Programme Features

Time bound


  Programmes are 18-36 months long, and has a clear cut-off date in which the participants are self-reliant.

Consumption Support


Consumption support ensures food security and meeting basic needs, allowing extremely poor households to focus on their personal livelihood strategy.

"Big Push" Asset Transfer


Programmes provide “big-push” such as seed capital to start small businesses or employment​  opportunities which are informed on market analysis and household business plans. 

Financial Inclusion


 ​Programmes facilitate access   to financial services, with access to informal savings mechanisms as a minimum, and preference for full range of formal financial services.

Social Services


Programmes facilitate access and referrals to social services like legal- and psycho social counselling, language, prevention, protection and response to Gender Based Violence, education, and health. If not available locally, programs ensures that they are provided in accordance with the individual participant’s graduation plan. 

Coaching & Mentoring


Programmes​ include continuous coaching to ensure that participants are on track towards self-reliance. This includes individual self-reliance plans, financial education & soft skills development and following implementations of livelihoods plans.