12.9% of Bangladesh’s population lives in extreme poverty.

We are the pioneers of the global Graduation approach, and are working towards eradicating ultrapoverty completely from Bangladesh by 2030.

BRAC’s Graduation approach is a comprehensive, time-bound, integrated and sequenced set of services that enable extreme and ultra-poor households to achieve sustainable livelihoods and socioeconomic resilience in order to progress along a pathway out of extreme poverty.

At the core of the approach are four foundational pillars: livelihood promotion, financial inclusion, social protection, and social empowerment. Participants are provided with assets through grants and interestfree loans to develop productive income-generating activities, as well as long-term investments in life skills and technical skills training, enterprise development, positive behaviour change, savings, and financial planning.

114,528 ultra-poor households were enrolled into the programme

43,682 households from the 2017 cohort graduated from ultra-poverty in 2018, bringing the total number of households reached to 1.9 million since 2002

95% participants achieve graduation and maintain their improved conditions beyond the programme cycle

£1 invested in the Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme = £5.40 in income and assets over a period of seven years

The Graduation approach has been adapted in over 43 countries by NGOs, governments and multilateral institutions


29% of the people in Bangladesh’s wetland (haor) areas live below the lower poverty line.

People living in hard-to-reach regions such as wetlands and low-lying riverine islands (chars) have limited access to mainstream services. Distance, high costs and a lack of infrastructure mean that communities often cannot access even basic services such as health, information and education. To overcome this, we support communities to build village development organisations, which act as a community-led service delivery mechanism tool.

Village development organisations act as one-stop service centres, providing access to services such as WASH, livelihood security, VAWC redressal and provisions for extreme poverty, education, legal services, financial services, and leadership and empowerment activities.

934,520 people reached with at least one service

123,223 targeted households accessed basic health services

122,989 households accessed financial services

4,871 households graduated from ultra-poverty

2,415 students passed primary education completion examinations (PECE)

1,445 women from 3,550 village development organisations in wetlands joined local power structures

325 households in indigenous communities began income-generating activities

110 village development organisations under Chevronfunded JIBIKA project registered with the government cooperative department


Nurunnahar’s husband passed away seven years into their marriage, leaving her to fend for herself and her two children.

It was a setback that she took on the chin. In 2003, she ran for the municipality woman councillor seat. She wanted to change the circumstances of people living in vulnerable situations around her, having learnt first-hand what it was like. She lost, but life had taught Nurunnahar to persevere.

“I went straight to the local BRAC office and told them about the condition of my people. I asked them to help these people,” she said.

BRAC staff then came to her locality and discussed with the community how they could help. The staff were in for a surprise. Instead of discussing their problems, the community leaders insisted that it was Nurunnahar herself who needed support.

Nurunnahar was selected as a participant in the ultra-poor graduation programme in 2009. The programme gave her the tools for self-growth, beginning with a cow, as part of its ‘big push’ capital injection.

“I could not afford much in those days, The milk from the cow was the only nutritious diet I could give to my children, ” she said.

Nurunnahar was also coached on how to grow her enterprise. When the cow gave birth to a calf, Nurunnahar sold it and used the money to buy the land where she plans to build her home. She also began tailoring to earn some extra income.

She received training by BRAC on issues such as child marriage. She stopped the marriage of her underage niece, an act which helped to seal her position as a leader in the community. She then went on to prevent over 20 child marriages in her area. She also pays close attention to the futures of both of her children who are currently studying.

In 2013, she ran for the councillor seat again, an ambition she pursued with renewed vigour and confidence, which stemmed from her increased financial stability. And by the end of 2013, she was sitting in it.