Hi, it's Ted Talks daily, I'm Elise Hu, working with people in the harshest forms of poverty, talk Shomron, Abed and his family that it takes more than just financial support to lift people out of deprivation.
You also have to instill hope that they can transform their lives. In today's talk from Ted 20-20 Shomron, who leads the nonprofit Brack's Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative, sheds light on the practical ways they help millions of people pull themselves out of extreme poverty and imagine a better future.
We are witness to monumental human progress over the past few decades, the expansion of the global marketplace has lifted a third of the world's population out of extreme poverty. Yet we are also witness to an astounding failure. Our efforts to lift people up have left behind those in the harshest forms of poverty, the ultra poor. What it means to be ultra poor goes beyond the monetary definition that we are all familiar with.
Living on less than two dollars a day. It goes even beyond not having assets like livestock or land. To be ultra poor means to be stripped of your dignity, purpose and self worth. It means living in isolation because you are a burden to your own community. It means being unable to imagine a better future for yourself and your family. By the end of twenty nineteen, about 400 million people were living in poverty worldwide. That's more than the populations of the United States and Canada combined.
And when calamity strikes, whether it's a pandemic, a natural disaster or a manmade crisis, these numbers spike astronomically higher. My father Fuzzily Oben, gave up a corporate career to establish Brak here in Bangladesh, in seventy two, Bangladesh was a wreck, having just gone through a devastating cyclone followed by a brutal war for independence, working with the poorest of the poor. My father realized that poverty was more than the lack of income and assets.
It was also a lack of hope. People were trapped in poverty because they felt their condition was immutable, poverty to them was like the sun and the moon, something given to them by God. For poverty reduction programs to succeed, they would need to instill hope and self-worth so that with a little support, people could lift themselves out of poverty. Barack went on to pioneer the graduation approach, a solution to ultra poverty that addresses both income, poverty and the poverty of hope.
The approach works primarily with women because women are the most affected by poverty, but also the ones most likely to pull themselves and their families out of it over a two year period. We essentially do four things. One, we meet a woman's basic needs by giving her food or cash, ensuring the minimum to survive, to remove her towards a decent livelihood by giving her an asset like livestock and treating her to earn money from it. Three, we train her to save budget and invest her new wealth.
And for we help to integrate her socially first into groups of women like her and then into her community.
Each of these elements is key to the success of the others, but the real magic is the hope and sense of possibility the women develop through the close mentorship they receive. Let me tell you about Georgina. Georgina was born in a remote village in northern Bangladesh. She never went to school. And at the age of 15, she was married off to an abusive husband. He eventually abandoned her, leaving her with no income and two children who were not in school and were severely malnourished with no one to turn to for help.
She had no hope. During a joint Brack's graduation program in 2005, she received a dollar a week Tucows enterprise training and a weekly visit from a mentor. She began to build her assets, but most importantly, she began to imagine a better future for herself and her children. If you were to visit Joiner's Village today, you would find that she runs the largest general store in her area. She will proudly show you the land she bought and the house she built.
Since we began this program in 2002, two million Bangladeshi women have lifted themselves and their families out of ultra poverty. That's almost nine million people. The program, which costs five hundred dollars per household, runs for only two years. But the impact goes well beyond that. Researchers at the London School of Economics found that even seven years after entering the program, 92 percent of participants had maintained or increased their income, assets and consumption. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, the MIT economists who won the Nobel Prize last year, led multi country evaluations that identified graduation as one of the most effective ways to break the poverty trap.
But my father wasn't content to have found a solution that worked for some people. He always wanted to know whether we were being ambitious enough in terms of scale. So when we achieved nationwide scale in Bangladesh, he wanted to know how we could scale it globally and that has to involve governments. Governments already dedicate billions of dollars on poverty reduction programs, but so much of that money is wasted because these programs either don't reach the poorest and even the ones that do fail to have significant long term impact.
We are working to engage governments to help them to adopt and scale graduation programs themselves, maximising the impact of the billions of dollars they already allocate to fight poverty. Our plan is to help another twenty one million people lift themselves out of poverty in eight countries over the next six years with BRAC teams on site and embedded in each country. In July of 2019, my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given four months to live. As he transitioned out of Iraq after leading the organization for forty seven years, he reminded us that throughout his life he saw optimism, triumph over despair, that when you light the spark of self belief in people, even the poorest can transform their lives.
My father passed away in December. He lit that spark for millions of people, and in the final days of his life, he implored us to continue to do so for millions more. This opportunity is ours for the taking, so let us stop imagining a world without ultra poverty and start building that world together. Thank you. PR ex.