A Holistic Solution To Alleviate Multi-Dimensional Poverty: How The Graduation Model Works

Multi-dimensional poverty is a harsh reality affecting millions of families worldwide. It refers to a state where individuals and families lack access to basic needs such as food, clean water, and safe shelter. Additionally, it encompasses issues like low self-esteem, social isolation, and a lack of economic opportunities. Without comprehensive intervention including community support and empowerment, financial assistance may fall short.


The Graduation Model, also known as Economic Inclusion Programs, emerged as a solution to tackle multi-dimensional poverty. Initially developed by BRAC in Bangladesh, this approach addresses immediate needs, promotes income generation, encourages positive behavioural changes, and encourages savings and asset building. Participants receive regular guidance from a case manager to prepare them for long-term success.

In Haiti, Opportunity International’s implementing partner, Fonkoze, recognized that traditional credit programs were not effectively reaching the country’s poorest families. In 2007, they introduced the Chemin Lavi Miyo (CLM) Graduation Model. In English, this translates to Pathway to a Better Life.  Since the inception of the program, over 8600 families have been empowered along their journey out of poverty.

Based on the success and shared learnings in Haiti, our Partner in Colombia, Agape, launched a pilot Graduation Program in 2022. The pilot will see 250 Cartagena families empowered on their pathway out of poverty.

Over 18 months, ultra-poor households will be provided with critical support, including stipends, training, network development, and counselling by a dedicated case manager. This holistic approach empowers clients in four key areas:

  1. Social protection: Identification of family needs and barriers that prevent overcoming poverty, home visits for support, a monthly stipend, and connection to government support.
  2. Social Empowerment: Training in life skills and psychosocial support
  3. Financial Inclusion: Financial education and savings incentive through our Savings Groups methodology.
  4. Sustainable livelihoods: Technical training, assets towards building a sustainable livelihood

The Graduation Model represents a beacon of hope for families in Cartagena’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods, trapped in multi-dimensional poverty. Since the initiation of the pilot, we’ve witnessed the potential of this holistic approach to transform lives, providing families with the tools they need to break free from the cycle of poverty.



In Cartagena’s Boston neighbourhood on Lago Street, a resilient young woman’s life is being transformed through Agape’s ultra-poverty Graduation Program. Her story is a testament to the transformative impact of empowerment and determination.

Anyeli, a native of Cartagena, ventured to Venezuela in pursuit of a brighter future. She took a few courses in effort to improve life for herself. However, her life took an unexpected turn as she became a mother and her husband became involved in criminal activities. Fearing for her safety and that of her children, she made the decision to return to Colombia.

It was on Lago Street that Anyeli met Agape case workers and was introduced to the Graduation Program. Initially, she was reserved, distant, and struggled with low self-esteem. However, she began to diligently participate in training offered by the program and is quickly building confidence and equipping herself with the knowledge to build a better life for herself and her family.

She has invested the monthly stipend provided by the Graduation Program into her children’s education, ensuring a brighter future for them.

To make ends meet, Anyeli sells coffee on the streets of Boston. The Graduation Program offered her the tools and guidance she needed to take the next step toward growing her business. She’s now on her way to establishing a fast-food business.

In a short period of time, Anyeli’s transformation has been remarkable. Her journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of resilience, demonstrating that individuals can overcome even the most challenging circumstances when provided with opportunity.



Elianie graduated from the Pathway to a Better Life program in Savanet this August. She is a hard-working woman and has already accomplished much in her 16 months in the program.

Elianie is 30 years old and has a 2-year-old son. Together, they live with her husband in the house they built during the program. It stands on her husband’s land and only requires a few final touches to be completed.  

Before the program, she lived in her mother-in-law’s house. She didn’t have any means to generate an income and relied on others.

Since her integration into the program, her situation has been improving considerably. She received two goats, which she cares for, hoping they will produce offspring soon. She plans to add to her livestock with the money she will receive when the second cycle of her savings and loan association ends. She wants to buy some chickens and a calf.

Elianie now operates a grocery business that she built with the first payout of her savings and loan association. She sells spaghetti, rice, cooking oil, and other groceries from her home. She says she doesn’t have to go to the market or stroll around to sell her products. Clients come to find her.

For her, the program not only helped financially but has provided a community of friends and support. Reflecting on her 18 months in the program, Elianie says, “Pathway to a Better Life has helped me gain my autonomy. Now I can make my own decisions, and I don’t have to find someone every time I have a problem”.


In the fight against multi-dimensional poverty, the Graduation Model offers not just financial support but a holistic solution that addresses social protection, empowerment, financial inclusion, and sustainable livelihoods. These stories remind us that, with opportunity and empowerment, individuals facing multi-dimensional poverty can reshape their destinies, with renewed hope and dignity.