Key message 5 – BRAC’s approach can be scaled up and successfully adapted to different contexts

The programme impacts have proven highly scalable. BRAC has reached 1.6 million households6 in Bangladesh via its Targeting the Ultra-Poor programme. Similar livelihood programmes based on BRAC’s approach have reached over 7000 households in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru (J-PAL and IPA Policy Bulletin 2015). Randomised evaluations of these programmes have found broadly similar positive impacts, despite the differences in cultures, market access and structures, subsistence activities and scope of government safety net programmes (Banerjee et al. 2015). The long-run benefits of the programmes outweigh their upfront costs in all countries except Honduras7.

Across the studies, the interventions helped beneficiaries to move into more stable selfemployment activities and spend more time working each day. Savings increased significantly, particularly in programmes that incorporated mandatory savings. Most positive economic impacts were still observed a year after programme activities had ended. The similarity of findings suggests that the poorest face similar constraints across countries, and provides confidence that the BRAC model can work across different contexts and with different implementers. Taken together with the longer-run effects estimated for the Bangladesh intervention, the results suggest that comprehensive livelihood programmes may offer the potential to put the poorest on a sustainable, long-term trajectory out of poverty.

Household with their livestock in Naogoan district, Bangladesh © BRAC


  • 6 1.6 million is inclusive of both the asset and credit transfer models of BRAC’s “Targeting the Ultra-poor programme.”
  • 7 In Honduras, chickens were the most commonly chosen productive assets. The death of a large number of chickens due to illness may explain why the impact on consumption was negative in Honduras.