BRAC Helps Others Implement Ultra Poor Programs

April 2, 2009
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For those who are too poor even to benefit from microfinance loans, BRAC has a special program providing the ultra poor with a pathway out of poverty. Instead of giving these women loans, BRAC gives them assets: a cow, chickens, seeds, fabric for sewing, etc. depending on the livelihood they want to pursue. We provide them with training and extra support, like feed and vaccinations, and visit them every week to check on the progress of their new business and make sure they’re able to meet their basic needs.

For those who are too poor even to benefit from microfinance loans, BRAC has a special program providing the ultra poor with a pathway out of poverty.

Instead of giving these women loans, BRAC gives them assets: a cow, chickens, seeds, fabric for sewing, etc. depending on the livelihood they want to pursue. We provide them with training and extra support, like feed and vaccinations, and visit them every week to check on the progress of their new business and make sure they’re able to meet their basic needs.

After two years, members of BRAC’s Ultra Poor program “graduate” and become microfinance borrowers themselves.

Small loans aren’t all they get, though. By empowering these women to bring themselves out of extreme poverty, they are given confidence and a sense of self-worth that they’ve never known.

Through BRAC USA and the newly-created BRAC University Development Institute (BDI) in partnership with CGAP, Ford Foundation, Mastercard Foundation and others, BRAC is now helping other microfinance institutions reach the ultra poor in the communities in which they work through the Graduation Project. Led by Dr. Syed Hashemi, BDI is currently providing technical assistance to programs in Haiti, Honduras, India, Pakistan and Peru and plan to work in Ethiopia and Yemen as well.

In February, BDI hosted a conference in Hyderabad, India for three of the organizations who are already implementing a version of the Ultra Poor program to share challenges and best practices from their experience thus far. The three organizations, SKS and Trickle Up in India and Fonkoze in Haiti, shared their experiences and strategies for selecting members, providing assets and additional support, encouraging saving and defining graduation criteria.

Stay tuned for a report on what we learned from the conference.

Futiker Ma, pictured on the right, is a member of BRAC’s Ultra Poor program in Bangladesh. To read her story and the story of others whose lives are being touched by BRAC’s programs, click here to visit myBRAC.

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