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Pathways to Secure and Sustainable Livelihoods

Michelle Chaplin


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The MasterCard Foundation has partnered with BRAC USA and BRAC Development Institute to test a new model to move people out of extreme poverty.  This project is conducted in collaboration with CGAP and Ford Foundation. Michelle Chaplin, Program Manager at BRAC USA, highlights progress and impact of the project in Ethiopia.


In October 2011, Ann Miles (Director of Microfinance at The MasterCard Foundation) and Susan Davis (President and CEO of BRAC USA), visited the Ethiopia CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program in Tigray. This program is a global effort to understand how safety nets, livelihood training and microfinance can be sequenced to create a pathway to help the poorest move, or “graduate,” out of extreme poverty. The CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program is helping to implement ten Graduation Pilots in eight countries, in partnership with local organizations.

The MasterCard Foundation partnered with BRAC USA to support BRAC Development Institute (BDI) in conducting qualitative research on the pilot programs as well as monitoring the implementation of the programs. What effect do the programs have on the lives of the participants? What are the challenges that the participants face? To what extent have their lives improved?  In collaboration with CGAP and the Ford Foundation, BDI has conducted qualitative research in Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Pakistan.

Through the qualitative research, we have learned that program participants in the Ethiopia pilot are saving formally for the first time and productive assets given to them from the program are generating income. Participants can now envision coming off the Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program and graduating into a secure and sustainable livelihood. The Ethiopia qualitative research paper will be published in January 2012 and all other papers can be accessed on the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program website.

While on their visit in Ethiopia, Ann and Susan attended a workshop that assessed the early successes and challenges of the program in the wider context of programs in Ethiopia that aim to reach the poorest and regions affected by food insecurity. The following short film highlights key takeaways from that workshop. It captures the stories of the participants and insights from facilitators of the Ethiopia pilot program.

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