Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods

The Graduation Model

Beyond Borders supports the movement in Haiti to replace systems that oppress the poor with systems that support dignified work and sustainable livelihoods. Our primary approach to this work is the Graduation Model, an asset-building approach pioneered in Bangladesh and first brought to Haiti by Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest micro-finance lender.

Focusing on the Most Vulnerable

Our efforts to bolster household income and food security will focus increasingly on the most vulnerable households in the community – those at risk for sending their children into servitude or struggling to ensure their return and reintegration. As the vast majority of these families depend upon farming and small scale trading to survive, we will increase their capacity to make those activities more productive and profitable.

Empowering Local Farmer Groups

To do so, we enable communities to establish (or strengthen, where existing) local farmer groups. Known as gwoupman, they have a solid track record in Haiti as structures with great potential for boosting the social engagement and livelihoods skills of their members. Members meet regularly not only to talk about the challenges of farming and how to overcome them, but also to help one another in their fields, to pool some of their resources, and to reflect on broader community issues. As their group relationship strengthens, they are able to take on increasingly complex cooperative activities and develop networks. Some of the strongest and most enduring civil society movements and organizations in Haiti to date have been built by farmers and have gwoupman at their base.

Improving Agricultural Practices

We work with existing and newly-formed gwoupman to assess existing agricultural practices and potential, to promote awareness of improved and sustainable agricultural and environmental practices and to support experimentation with promising agricultural and agro-economic interventions. In most of the communities in which we work there are active gwoupman associations. Some of these groups may already be doing good agricultural and livelihoods work. A key challenge that will require focused attention is assessing the capacity of each local association and identifying opportunities for productive collaboration especially around strategies for including the most vulnerable families.