Eight companies in Costa Rica receive an award for progress in poverty reduction using the business MPI

16 June, 2021

The Business Multidimensional Poverty Index (bMPI), developed by the Costa Rican Association Horizonte Positivo is used by companies to measure the multidimensional poverty of workers and their households. Using the bMPI, companies can create initiatives that go beyond income to improve the lives of their employees. In 2020, Horizonte Positivo recognized eight firms in Costa Rica for their successful implementation of the bMPI programme.

Measuring poverty among employees to detect their deprivations and generate actions that will improve their living conditions and those of their households was the challenge accepted by a group of companies in Costa Rica three years ago.

Setting the challenge was the Horizonte Positivo association, a world pioneer in the methodological approach that applies the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), based on the Alkire-Foster method, to the business environment.

According to Mariola Montero, Operations Director of Horizonte Positivo, eight companies haven been recognized by the association because ‘they had an outstanding participation in the business MPI programme (bMPI), and their results translate into a positive effect on the households of their collaborators’.

The prize-winning companies had all completed three years of the programme, carried out an evaluation of the strategies implemented, and reduced multidimensional poverty within their organisation, positively impacting the employees’ households.

Beyond income

Inspired by the Costa Rican MPI, which was designed and calculated by the government in 2015, the bMPI programme began in Costa Rica and adapted the methodology further so that companies could use it to inform evidence-based social responsibility programmes.

The bMPI programme identifies company priorities for improving employees’ lives beyond income, by surveying workers online and directly across five dimensions–housing and internet use, health, education, work and social protection.

In 2020, the companies that agreed to apply the bMPI to workers and their households were:

Grupo Financiero BAC Credomatic, a financial company operating throughout the Central American region, with 6,123 employees in Costa Rica. In 2017, the company conducted its first survey based on the bMPI.

Grupo Purdy, a leader in the Costa Rican automotive industry, with over 63 years of experience, and approximately 1,250 employees. This company started the implementation of the bMPI in 2016.

Arias, a law firm, founded in 1942 by Francisco Armando Arias, that provides integrated services in six Central American countries, and has 78 collaborators in Costa Rica, including associates, paralegals and administrative staff, all of whom have now been measured on three occasions since 2017.

CCK, a communications and strategic relations firm operating for 33 years, with offices throughout the Central American region, and 79 collaborators. The company ha has been implementing the bMPI since 2017.

The advisory firm EY in Central America, Panama and Dominican Republic, which applied the survey for the first time in 2019, and has 1,500 employees at the regional level, 700 of whom are based in the Costa Rica branch.

Grupo Financiero Mercado de Valores de Costa Rica, a specialist in wealth management, with 81 employees, which used the bMPI for the first time in 2018.

The Florida Ice and Farm Company (FIFCO), a food and beverage distributor founded in 1908, focused on producing and distributing beverages and food across Central America including to the real estate business in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It has carried out two analyses of its employees’ living conditions, since it began the programme in 2018.

Grupo Financiero Improsa, a company with 484 employees, with a strong presence across the stock market, real estate, finance, banking, insurance and other industries. In 2018, they conducted their first measurement of the bMPI.



Across these companies the dimensions studied formed focal points for action. After carrying out a diagnosis, Grupo Financiero Improsa created three improvement programmes: in poverty, housing and education. Among the actions it designed, it created a monthly contribution for the educational expenses of employees’ children, a benefit that was extended to the staff of its associated companies.

Grupo Purdy, through the Purdy People Census, decided to continue with the areas of action it had set out four years ago: education and finances. In education, it continued with the Purdy Cole programme, which gives employees the opportunity to complete their secondary education through courses subsidised by the company. Regarding finances, through the Purdy Opportunities programme, it maintained ‘prevention against excessive debt, through workshops, psychological support and one-on-one attention for case analysis’. The results were encouraging and the company reported that ‘77 employees have already graduated from secondary school, and another 40 have benefited from loans from the programme’s solidarity fund’.


Horizonte Positivo’s bMPI programme is a process which diagnoses multidimensional poverty, analyses the data and designs and implements solutions, which are then evaluated for their impact.


At Arias, no households or individuals were found to be in multidimensional poverty in 2020, which was not the case in 2017. However, significant indebtedness was discovered among the staff. To overcome the problem, the law firm developed ‘workshops on financial education in conjunction with BAC Credomatic’ another practitioner of the bMPI.

Through an alliance with the banking company, ‘employees were educated in financial education, with the aim of providing support to those with critical debts’.

The directors of CCK, the communications and strategic relations firm, were able to learn for the first time about the life stories of their employees through the bMPI. CCK found out about ‘the integral state of our people and their immediate family’. They reported how the initiative allowed them to direct their ‘efforts to causes and people with real and concrete needs’, for which the ‘Impulso CCK’ programme was designed, with support in housing, unemployment, finances and labour rights. Within this framework, they also carried out ‘mock interviews with colleagues and family members who came to the CCK offices, to rehearse and get a feel for future job opportunities’.

The consulting firm EY applied the bMPI halfway through 2020, a decision that discovered that, despite being ‘a company where more than 95% of the employees are university graduates’, its workers are not immune to ‘the problems that make up the definition of multidimensional poverty’. The company decided that ‘as part of our actions, we have developed financial training programmes and partnerships with organisations, to address social issues related to illnesses, people with disabilities, and housing solutions, among others’. They have also created a

Legal Assistance Committee, where their lawyers offer advice and guidance to co-workers who require specific legal support.

Grupo BAC Credomatic found with the 2019 survey that, out of a total of 4,487 respondents, 8.5% identified themselves as living in multidimensional poverty. As early as 2017, the company began to implement solutions to address the main problems detected. These included an alliance with the Fundación Promotora de Vivienda (FUPROVI) to advise employees on the use of bonds for purchasing land or homes, construction and improvements. Also, they offered a plan of face-to-face emotional care for employees, through a telephone line that supports crisis intervention.

Education and training

‘After applying the bMPI, Grupo Financiero Mercado de Valores de Costa Rica concluded that, we discovered that the challenge we had was to encourage families to continue their education and specialisation. Education is the ultimate tool to reverse many situations in the world’.

Focusing on enhancing the development of education and family budgeting, the financial group carried out individual follow-ups and designed training programmes on housing options, debt unification, CV assistance, and the adoption of medical insurance, among others. They have also added training in the optimal use of social networks for personal start-ups, and the Financial Mentoring Programme.

The food and beverage distributor, FIFCO, found the incidence of multidimensional poverty in their company to be 12.29%. So, they focused ‘on the areas of finance, as well as social protection and education, since for us it was of utmost importance to address these deficiencies head-on’. Initiatives were carried out to support employees in the use of health insurance, and, with the help of Convexa, a study programme to help employees complete their high school education.

Future plans

The eight companies recognized by Horizonte Positivo reported that they found the bMPI tool to be an effective way to learn about multidimensional poverty among their employees and their households. The tool has enabled them to design solutions to improve their employees’ lives and retain talent.

At CCK they explained the bMPI ‘helps us to know the reality of our people; we can be taken aback with the findings’. That is why we must ‘support and work together – company and collaborators – to provide them with information, knowledge, tools, and new conditions so that they can move forward’.

EY agreed that the bMPI survey ‘has been strategic and of great value to the organisation’. They shared how ‘it is difficult to be clear about the situation of our people outside the business environment; today we can testify that there are many dimensions of our people’s lives that we don’t always have visibility over,’ such as ‘an employee at risk, with financial pressures, social problems, medical problems or a family member with a disability’.

Grupo Purdy commented how it will continue to implement the bMPI through the Purdy People Census, ‘to reaffirm and innovate in the dimensions established by the Index, in pursuit of the well-being of all the company’s employees’.

In the coming months, Grupo Financiero Mercado de Valores de Costa Rica will focus ‘on strengthening the development of the dimensions of education and family budget’. They reported that ‘the experience has been extremely enriching, as it has allowed us to get to know our families and, with this, to define targeted corporate social responsibility strategies’.

BAC Credomatic Costa Rica decided to retake the survey in 2021–22, to measure the scope of the 2020 work, and update their data. Likewise, it is already moving forward with a work plan that incorporates new solutions associated with care for the elderly, support for employees with disabilities, and advice regarding the non-contributory pension scheme.

‘For Horizonte Positivo,’ says Mariola Montero, ‘it is a source of pride to have companies that are committed and supportive of their people, and to see them become agents of change’. The door is open for other companies to join in this important effort.



The methodology for working with the private sector is now available for the entire Latin American region through the Wise Responder Action Kit (WiRe), a toolkit developed by SOPHIA Oxford, the first social enterprise of the University of Oxford. WiRe allows a company to understand the level of multidimensional wellbeing of its employees and to manage programmes that improve their quality of life. The kit is made up of a robust wellbeing measure, a management technology platform, and technical assistance. From in-depth data analysis and planning of its social strategy, the company manages to target and efficiently invest its resources.



More information on the history and structure of the Business MPI can be found in the article Measuring poverty in enterprisesof Dimensions 8.


This article was published in Dimensions 12


Costa Rica IPM Empresarial Multidimensional Poverty Pobreza Multidimensional