The graduation approach brings together several components that have proven necessary for sustained upwards economic mobility for the poorest and most vulnerable. It begins with consumption assistance (food and/or cash assistance), mindful that part of what it means to be extremely poor is the food insecurity that inhibits households from taking on any meaningful longer-term livelihood strategy. This is typically offered through a pre-existing government safety net program (e.g., cash transfer, public works program).
With these basic needs met, participants then gain access to financial services with basic financial education and support in saving money. Savings with a formal, or community-based, financial institution are a vital tool for risk management. Regular savings help build assets, instill financial discipline, and strengthen cash and financial management skills.
Participants also get simple technical skills training and seed capital grants (or in-kind assets such as livestock) to jump-start small businesses. In some cases, especially in urban and peri-urban areas, participants are linked to employment opportunities instead. Finally, regular, intensive one-on-one mentoring over the program duration of 24 to 36 months helps build participants’ confidence and the persistence necessary to stay on the trajectory of improved social and economic well-being.