Graduating Families out of Ultra-Poverty (E-Workshop Recap)

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Due to technical difficulties, the webinar recording function started late. We apologize for this inconvenience and have made a summary and the presenter’s slides available to you.

BRAC client

Image courtesy of BRAC


Webinar resources


Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, moderated an engaging discussion about the Graduation Model pioneered by BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh, that included Sadna Samaranayake (Program Manager of the Ultra-Poor Graduation Program at BRAC USA), Carine Roenen (Executive Director of Fonkoze in Haiti) and Raymond Serios (Special Projects Manager at Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation).

Sadna Samaranayake, BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Program

Sadna opened by describing BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Approach which targets ultra-poor households and follows a process of focused interventions carefully sequenced to “graduate” households out of ultra-poverty. While the World Bank uses the $1.25 per day income threshold to define extreme poverty, BRAC understands the ultra-poor as those in the bottom half of earnings among those below the $1.25 a day line.

Sadna explained that the first step in the process to graduating households from ultra-poverty is to carefully target and select families for program participation. This requires community mapping and wealth ranking exercises to determine which community members are in the most need.

Once chosen to participate in the program, clients receive a transfer of productive assets and a cash stipend. Sadna explained that productive assets can be livestock, seeds for planting, or small goods for enterprise. The cash stipend allows clients flexibility to start improving their livelihood while beginning to generate an income from the productive assets.

Next the clients receive training and they start to generate an income for themselves. As time progresses, clients are encouraged to save money and are given access to appropriate health care. Ultimately, the objective of the graduation approach is to ensure that all families are better integrated into the social fabric of the community and are generating enough sustainable income to conquer ultra-poverty.

Graduation occurs over a period of 24 months when households achieve set economic and social goals including not having a reported food deficit in the past year, having multiple sources of income, owning livestock/poultry, having a sanitary latrine and clean drinking water, having cash savings and school age children attending school. Over the past 12 years, BRAC has graduated 1.4 million people, mainly in Bangladesh and has committed to graduating 250,000 more families by the end of 2016.

Carine Roenen, Fonkoze

Carine followed by illustrating the challenges of implementing a graduation model in Haiti. The Fokonze approach is an adaptation of the BRAC model with slight changes for the context for working in Haiti. Fonkoze has reached 62,735 clients with loans, and graduated 2,900 clients from ultra-poverty. Currently, Fokonze is hoping to expand its outreach in Haiti to graduate more households out of ultra-poverty.

Raymond Serios, Negros Women for Tomorrow

Raymond used his opportunity to interview both Sadna and Carine about the process of implementing a graduation model in his context in the Philippines. Raymond inquired about how BRAC and Fonkoze choose productive assets with the households. Carine responded that it depends on the skills of the client and should be something that she is already familiar with or willing to learn.

Larry then moderated a discussion among the panelists based on questions submitted by webinar participants. Some of the questions focused on monitoring and evaluation processes to track progress toward graduation. Others touched similarly on impact in the long term. It was a lively discussion that included an optional time extension after the official schedule ended to continue discussions. (See all the questions and comments in the webinar chat.)


We would like to thank all of the panelists and all of the participants who attended the webinar and participated via the chat and Q&A functions. We invite you to comment on this post to continue the discussion about the graduation model and further share ideas.

We also invite you to explore the links below to the recording of the webinar, presentations from BRAC and Fokonze, as well as the Robin Burgess report about the impact of the graduation model program on employment choices.

We hope you will join us for our next e-workshop “Instilling Confidence in Poverty Measurement: The New PPI Certification” on Tuesday, June 24th at 10:00 AM (EDT/GMT-4) and featuring panelists Frank Ballard (Grameen Foundation), Analí Oda Salcedo (Planet Rating), and Chiara Pescatori (MicroFinanza Rating).

Webinar Resources:


E-Workshops are hosted by the 100 Million Project of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and strive to feature the work of organizations who have announced Campaign Commitments to take specific, measurable and time-bound actions that demonstrate their commitment to the end of extreme poverty. Are you Committed?  Find out how to share your Commitment to the end of extreme poverty.