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Sydney South NSW 1235, Level 11, 227 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000

Telephone: 1800 812 164

© 2019 Opportunity International AustraliaABN 83 003 805 043

Your ImpactReaching the ultra poor
with innovation in the Philippines

1 in 10
people in the Philippines live in extreme poverty
family members

As at June 2018

Graduating to sustainable livelihoods

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Thanks to your support, Opportunity has launched the innovative Livelihoods for the Extreme Poor (LIFE) graduation program in the Philippines.

LIFE gives families a hand to hold over two years as they begin their journey out of ultra poverty. With staged, holistic support to progress from ultra poverty to opportunity, this is a solution to reach the invisible last-mile of families left behind.

Generally, the ultra poor live on less than $1.90 a day. Without access to assets or employment, typically these families don’t have enough food, can’t send their children to school and live in an unsafe shelter. These marginalised families are falling through the cracks of efforts to break the poverty cycle - such as microfinance - without a safety net to catch them.

Opportunity's program partner ASKI is pioneering the graduation approach in the Philippines. Meet the families you're helping graduate from ultra poverty, read your latest program update and learn more about the graduation approach below.

Learn about Graduation Program Updates Meet families

Your program updates

Your Latest Update


The Philippines is prone to frequent natural disasters, forcing families to rebuild their lives far too often. In September, Super Typhoon Mangkhut struck the northern island of Luzon, where the Graduation program is reaching families. We're working with our program partner, ASKI, to support these families in the wake of the typhoon damaging their homes and livelihoods to build their resilience to future natural disasters.


Key to piloting the Graduation approach is learning how to best help Filipino families living in ultra poverty. An early lesson has been the instability of homes for these families. Initially the pilot targeted 600 families, but today only 527 families are continuing in the program.

The most common reason for families leaving the program is leaving the region – seeking seasonal employment opportunities, or an affordable home. Few families own their homes, if natural disasters such as typhoons destroy their makeshift dwellings they can be forced to search further afield for another affordable option.

This transience demonstrates why sustainable livelihoods are so vital for families to move beyond ultra poverty. Without a stable income or secure home it’s even more challenging for families to give their children an education, receive medical care or build long-term livelihoods.


Over the past six months, the 527 families continuing in the pilot have been receiving their chosen assets and learning how to manage these to generate income. Those who’ve received goats and pigs are already seeing their assets grow, with many kids and piglets to look after now too.


Badeth Dioses gave birth to a healthy baby boy – thanks to her goat! After her goat delivered kids around the same time, Badeth used the profits to help pay for the costs of a hospital delivery of her son.



Every two weeks families are visited by their program officer to learn new skills for managing their assets, and other vital life skills to help them on their journey out of poverty. For example, families have been learning about the importance of good hygiene practices and receiving hygiene kits to help turn new knowledge into good habits. Kits include simple items that make a big difference in avoiding illness including soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Your Past Updates

March 2018 October 2017

Learn about the Graduation Approach

Life Communities in the Philippines

What is graduation?

Graduation approaches are a pathway to support the most marginalised in the communities we serve to overcome financial and social exclusion and graduate to sustainable livelihoods. After graduating from ultra poverty families can receive continued support on their journey out of poverty with access to microfinance and related financial products.

See how the Livelihoods for the Extreme Poor (LIFE) pilot gives families a hand to hold so they can graduate to sustainable livelihoods.

Partnering for innovation

Opportunity’s program partner, ASKI, is pioneering the graduation approach in the Philippines.

The LIFE approach learns from the graduation method and draws on over a decade of testing the most effective ways to help the ultra poor graduate into greater resilience.

This approach was first launched by BRAC in Bangladesh in 2002. By 2016 over 1.6 million families had graduated from ultra poverty across 11 countries.

Does it work?

BRAC has seen 75-98% of participants ‘graduate’ from ultra poverty. Graduation is the first poverty eradication approach proven to effectively transition families living in ultra poverty to sustainable livelihoods, supported by a growing body of evidence.

A landmark paper published in Science in May 2015, provided compelling evidence that the approach is cost-effective and leads to statistically significant and sustainable gains in economic and social outcomes, analysing the results of randomised control trials involving 21,000 participants in six countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan and Peru).

Meet a family you're helping


New Meet Lolita

Along with her new assets, Lolita is learning business and life skills.

Read more

Marites with one of her children

Meet Marites

Last December Marites became the proud owner of two goats and the stock to start her own sari-sari, or kiosk.

This may not sound like much, but Marites believes these assets are the key to breaking the cycle of poverty for her family.

Read more

Marilyn and her children meeting with their ASKI program officer

Meet Marilyn

Marilyn will be given a piglet, as well as help to establish a small trading business. At the end of two years, it’s expected that life will be significantly different for Marilyn. Most importantly, she’ll have the skills and resources to sustain her family's progress out of poverty.

Read more

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