Scaling Graduation in Burkina Faso


The Graduation Approach has been shown to effectively enable extremely poor families to begin a pathway out of poverty. But how can we deliver quality, cost-effective Graduation programs at scale, especially when we consider integrating Graduation into government social protection programs? One of the most critical aspects of Graduation is coaching, but it is also one of the most expensive and difficult to scale. To answer these questions, Trickle Up has been experimenting with a flexible, needs-based coaching model supported by performance-based incentives compared to a standard, frequency-based coaching model.


In the new adaptive approach to coaching, coaches visit participants in varied amounts based on individual and household needs. In addition, performance-based incentives are used to encourage a culture of continual learning and the productive use of flexibility required for adaptive coaching. Community-based agents are also used to support the identification of coaching needs and the provision of support.


Results from this trial have informed planning to integrate elements of the Graduation Approach with a social safety net programs in Burkina Faso, (Burkin – Naong Sa Ya) led by the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity and Family, and the World Bank. We aim to conduct a large scale evaluation of optimal means to deliver coaching cost-effectively, including the engagement of community-based para-social workers.

Project Objectives

  • Identify the most effective and efficient ways of delivering coaching in areas of high population dispersion and limited resources, including the potential of a flexible, “adaptive” approach to coaching as part of the Graduation Approach in Burkina Faso.
  • Evaluate the impact of performance-based incentives on innovation, motivation, and results of coaches and their managers.

Project Data

Baseline Data (demographic information)

  • All participants are women and live in rural areas.
  • The average age of participants is 40 years.
  • Almost half of participants (49%) are in a monogamous household. 51% live in a polygamous household.
  • Only 4% of the participants reached the class 6 of primary education.
  • Among the participants, 2% have disabilities while 22% of the beneficiary households have people with disabilities.
  • 31% of the participants claimed to be the main support of their households
  • 26% of participants have savings, with $3.50 (1590 CFA) saved on average per participant.
  • 7% of the participants have never been consulted in household-level decision making.
  • The average number of animals owned per participant varies from 0 to 0.40 animals, a very low rate animal ownership.

Midline Data

  • More than 60% of the participants say they are the main economic support for their households.
  • 82% of participants contribute $1.90-3.80 (1000-2000 FCFA) per month to their savings.
  • 94% of participants participate regularly in savings group meetings.
  • 79% of participants have diversified their income-generating activities.

Endline Data

  • All beneficiary participants in the project are organized into viable savings groups.
  • 100% of participants increased their incomes through the project.
  • 80% of project participants improved their living conditions (homes).
  • On average, each participant owns 2 goats and 4 chickens.
  • 54% of participants can afford to own cell phones.
  • Participants on average have saved $61 (32000 CFA) in their savings groups at the end of the project.

Results of the research component

  • Our analysis indicates that an adaptive, needs-based approach to coaching did appear to be more efficient than the traditional coaching schedule. The adaptive approach appears to be viable and scalable when accompanied by community-based staff who can help identify need and refer cases accordingly.
  • Results regarding performance based incentives were not fully conclusive: implementing partners responded well to them but a significant risk of perverse incentives remains.

Passoré, Yatenga, and Zondoma Provinces, North Region, Burkina Faso


Start Date: 7/1/2014

End Date: 8/31/2016  

Number of Participants: 425  


Vulnerable Populations

Women, Rural, Extreme Poor, People with Disabilities  


Project Components

Stipend for Consumption Support, Asset Transfer, Coaching, Savings/Self-Help Groups (savings and credit services, Technical Livelihood Skills Training, Financial Literacy and Capability Training

Our Partners

Created in 1996, Association Monde Rural (AMR)’s mission is to contribute to improving the conditions and the livelihoods of rural populations in Gourcy, Burkina Faso, through the promotion of women’s grassroots initiatives, protection and promotion of natural areas and resources, promotion of human rights and freedoms, promotion of good governance in general and local governance in particular. Working together since 2008, Trickle Up and AMR hope to reduce extreme poverty in the North Region of Burkina Faso.


Association d’Aide aux Enfants et aux Familles Démunies (ADEFAD)’s mission is to contribute to improving the conditions and the livelihoods of rural populations of Burkina Faso through the promotion of women’s grassroots initiatives, protection and promotion of the rights of rural women through their empowerment, support to mothers to promote education for vulnerable children, and promotion of the rights of girls particularly in the fight against female genital mutilation. ADEFAD was created in 1995 in Ouahigouya, Yatenga Province, Burkina Faso, and has been Trickle Up’s partner since 2008.


The mission of Alliance Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité en Afrique (AIDAS) is to fight poverty in all its forms. AIDAS is dedicated to developing livelihood strategies with women in rural areas and has expertise in food security, harvest storage, and cereal bank management. AIDAS was created in 2005 in Yako, Passoré Province, Burkina Faso, and has been a Trickle Up partner since 2008.

Instiglio is a group of passionate individuals working together under one shared goal: to ensure that every cent spent to alleviate poverty has the greatest possible impact on the lives of the 2.4 billion men, women, and children afflicted by it. Its mission is to empower leaders in the social, public, and private sectors to improve the impact of social programs in developing countries by tying funding to results. Trickle Up has been working with Instiglio since 2015.

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy non-profit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Trickle Up has been working with IPA since 2007.