The Graduation Model: A Sustainable Way Out of Extreme Poverty

Mirtyle Erlande and her chlidren in the village of Nan Kafe. Mirtyle’s family graduated from Beyond Borders’ Family Sponsorship Program, using the Graduation Model that empowers families to escape extreme poverty for good.

In 2016, Beyond Borders brought the Graduation Model to rural Lagonav Island, as a way to equip ultra-poor families with the skills they need to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and stay out.

Today, 230 families in nine communities on Lagonav have graduated from the first two cohorts run by Beyond Borders, and 110 families are currently in the third cohort.

“Development and relief programs can often help a community advance and yet leave behind the very poorest,” said David Diggs, Beyond Borders’ Director & Co-Founder. “These are precisely the people we want to reach.”

Pioneered in Bangladesh and first introduced to Haiti in 2008 by Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest micro-finance lender, the Graduation Model is an asset-building approach. The idea is that by equipping families with the means to earn a living and accompanying them with training and skill-building for 18-months, they will become self-sufficient.

Fonkoze’s initial implementation of the model in Haiti with 150 women– 97% of whom graduated –resulted in a 50% drop in hunger among participants. The number who also reported that all or most of their children were regularly attending school increased too– from 27% to 70%.

Globally, researchers writing in the journal Science in May 2015 found “large and lasting impacts on the standard of living” of participants as well, after testing the model in six other countries with 21,000 people over a three-year period.

Now, a group of development experts that includes those with extensive experience in Haiti have authored a report on the model: The Business Case for Investing in Graduation. They write that, “In a world riven with the effects of growing inequality, the Graduation Approach promises the opportunity to create a system where all, no matter what their starting point, can provide for themselves and invest in a better future for their children.”

For a look at how the Graduation Model can change the life of one family, check out the story of Elianne Dessaint and her six children in our newsletter: Helping Families Move from Poverty to Dignity.

Bringing the Graduation Model to ultra-poor families in rural Haiti simply wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of so many people like you who care. Thank you for making this life-changing work possible. We are grateful for your support!