In 2013, Fondation Erol began looking for opportunities for deeper engagement in global poverty alleviation. We discovered a stand-out development organization called BRAC. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC is the largest nongovernmental organization in the world and has pioneered, tested and perfected a program that meets the needs of people living in extreme poverty.
To address the needs of the poorest, BRAC launched its Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction-Targeting the Ultra-Poor program (CFPR-TUP or TUP) in 2002. The program’s approach is now commonly referred to as the “Graduation approach.” BRAC’s Graduation approach focuses on people that are typically beyond the reach of traditional development programs. Over the course of a two-year program, families gain skills to increase both their social and economic capital. The program has been implemented and adapted with great success across countries and regions, reaching more than 1.5 million people in Bangladesh alone.
We had the chance to see the graduation approach at work in India, where it was adapted by the microfinance organization Bandhan and tailored to fit the local context. This experience, coupled with compelling third-party research which validated the efficacy of the Graduation approach, prompted our initial grant to support BRAC’s work.
Working with Amplifier Strategies, our partner in strategic philanthropy, initial funding supported BRAC in developing its staff, partnerships, and global advocacy work to build its capacity as a steward of the graduation approach.
BRAC created project plans and fundraising materials to scale up in three new countries, making high quality, efficient graduation programs available to more of the world’s poorest families. And the work keeps growing. BRAC is also creating additional technical assistance and training materials to facilitate the growth and scaling of graduation programs taken up by implementing partners as part of the development agenda. Poverty alleviation has become a top priority among development agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations, bringing a new focus to finding effective, scalable solutions. By making an initial contribution to BRAC’s key programs and helping solidify the organization’s vision and next steps, Erol has opened the door to opportunities for greater collaboration. Our initial investment in BRAC is intended to garner the attention of bigger funding sources and keep the push to end extreme poverty at the forefront of the development agenda.