When her husband was sent to prison in 2007 with a lengthy sentence for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, 48-year-old Scholastic Mukamugaga didn’t know how she would support her six children, the youngest of whom is just seven years old.

Thanks to Concern’s graduation program, which seeks to build sustainable livelihoods one by one, based on each individual family’s skills and passions, Scholastic is now raising goats and a cow, selling the cow’s morning milk and producing and selling a sorghum-based home brew.

The three-pronged approach to establishing an income is allowing her to support her family as she never before believed possible.

Equally as important, today she has a role in a community that once seemed to shun her in the Huye district of southern Rwanda. “Before, no one invited me into their homes,” she says, standing in her backyard, her gaze serious. “I had nothing to offer and I wasn’t presentable. Now they even come to ask me for a contribution for local weddings.”


Concern’s program to “graduate” participants out of extreme poverty offers an integrated and intensive package of support over a period of 18 months to three years. The package of support, which targets extremely poor households, is often sequenced, starting with regular business skills coaching, then cash transfers followed by skills training, and then access to microcredit and savings.

The holistic approach is helping families in Rwanda, Burundi, and Haiti. Combined with the drive and initiative shown by the recipients themselves, it is revolutionizing the lives of some of those countries’ poorest in ways that are sustainable, and with impact that is community-wide.