With governments and others, increasingly looking to integrate Graduation into national programmes, cost and complexity are major barriers. Yet, practitioners need to be wary of looking for simple solutions to complex problems. Cost-effectiveness is not about finding a lower cost model for graduation but rather, understanding what is optimal in each context to achieve long-term, sustained, positive outcomes.
You’d be forgiven for thinking microfinance has gone wildly out of fashion. The “development caravan”—defined as the wagon train of poverty interventions that excite donors—has pulled away from micro-lending, drawn to more powerful things like BRAC-style graduation programmes (which aim to “graduate” people from extreme poverty into a sustainable livelihood) and bKash-like mobile money, according to recent coverage in The Economist.
Poverty is opportunity. Sure, one can take a kaleidoscopic peek into the word's denotation, but poverty instigates and propels action intended for positive change. Today, around 700 million people are thought to live in extreme poverty, defined as surviving on less than USD 1.90 a day. In 1990, that statistic was more than 1.9 billion.
We use our smartphones for numerous quotidian purposes: taking photos, accessing social media, browsing the web, and of course, making phone calls. But BRAC has been employing these devices for an entirely different purpose, and it is extremely innovative.
According to the World Bank, people living on or under USD 1.25 per day are considered ‘ultra poor’. Global trends indicate that we are gradually and surely winning the fight against poverty. Still, a staggering 1.2 billion people are living in extreme poverty- that is almost four times the number of people living in USA.
A group of men and women attend a participatory wealth ranking in Kaposhatia in Pakchanda union in Hossanipur upazila, Bangladesh.(Credit: BRAC/Shehzad Noorani).
"Where are the poor?" asks my colleague Oscar Abello at NextBillion.net, in an article that explains why better targeting of aid and impact investing programs has never been more essential. This is particularly true when it comes to "ultra-poor programs" that have been so successful in addressing the direst forms of extreme poverty.