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From Extreme Poverty to Sustainable Livelihoods

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Ford Foundation

The CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program has included an ambitious research and learning agenda. The full results of the impact research will be published in early 2015, but preliminary findings show strong gains among participant households across a range of well-being indicators. CGAP also plans to update this guide in mid-2015. The 2015 edition will incorporate new learning from both the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program itself, and also from the third-party implementers who have already started new pilots, or who will be launching their own programs using this year’s edition of the guide as a tool.

To give feedback on this version of the guide, please join the discussion group on the CGAP Workspace or simply comment at the bottom of this page.

As you read the publication, please consider the following questions:

  • Are there any gaps in the content?
  • Which sections require further clarification?
  • Do you have an illustrative story that would help paint a clearer picture to readers?
  • Are there controversial areas that need special attention?

By focusing on the extreme poor, CGAP hopes to reduce entrenched, self-perpetuating inequalities that harm families across multiple generations and that hold back the development of entire societies. At a time when there is growing interest in fostering linkages between social protection and economic development, if implemented at scale the Graduation Approach has potential to help move large numbers of the extreme poor into the market economy, by preparing them for self-employment or formal financial services. This is a long and complex process, and furthermore, many self-employed poor people might well prefer regular salaried or wage-paying jobs—if those were available—rather than self-employment. CGAP also recognizes that neither the Graduation Approach nor any other intervention of its kind is an adequate substitute for responsive, universal social protection programs.

But the fact remains that nearly 1.2 billion people still live below the extreme poverty line, and that most of them live in countries where opportunities for formal employment and safety-net protections are both rare.

CGAP believes that the scale of extreme poverty and its complexity—poverty looks different and has different drivers from one society to another—demand a diverse range of responses. The Graduation Approach is one such response. CGAP believes it holds significant promise, and looks forward to collaborating over the course of the next year with as many as possible of those who implement the Approach detailed in these pages. Working together as a community of practice, we hope to expand understanding of what makes the Approach work best, to continue to refine it, and to share what we learn with all interested parties.

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