Preserving the Essence, Adapting for Reach: Early Lessons from Large-Scale Implementations of the Graduation Approach
The Graduation Approach is a holistic livelihoods program which consists of five core components: time-limited consumption support; a savings component; an asset transfer; training in how to use the asset; and life skills coaching and mentoring. This mix of interventions, offered in the appropriate sequence, helps the ultra-poor to “graduate” out of extreme poverty within a defined time period. Findings from evaluations of the 10 pilots implemented in Asia, Africa and Latin America suggest that the Graduation Approach is an effective and scalable intervention with impacts that are sufficiently robust to persist over time.
Based on these interim findings, Ford and CGAP designed an ambitious strategy to reach out to government policy makers to help them understand the potential of the Graduation Approach to serve large numbers of extremely poor people develop sustainable livelihoods and move into the market economy over time. The key is embedding the Graduation Approach in government social protection or large-scale anti-poverty programs. Governments and NGOs will need to adapt the “classic” version of the Graduation Approach as broader integration with social policy happens around the world. Governments face different challenges than NGOs, scaling brings its own set of challenges, and programs must be tailored to address differences in regional contexts.
With these factors in mind, the Ford Foundation commissioned case studies of three governments and one large NGO who are scaling the Graduation Approach within their ongoing programs. The Ford Foundation hopes that the lessons provided by the case studies and companion analysis encourage other governments and NGOs to adopt, adapt, and scale an approach that works.