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What does Trickle Up do?

Trickle Up empowers people living on less than $1.25 a day to take the first steps out of poverty, providing them with resources to build sustainable livelihoods for a better quality of life. In partnership with local agencies, we provide training and seed capital grants to launch or expand a microenterprise and savings support to build assets. 

We empower the world's poorest people to develop their potential and strengthen their communities. We pursue this goal in a way that encourages innovation and leadership, maximizes resources and promotes communication and cooperation among all Trickle Up constituencies.

How does Trickle Up fit into the microfinance world by providing a grant instead of a loan?

We work with the world’s poorest populations, who are often unable to obtain even the smallest of microloans. Some fear the risk of potentially defaulting on a loan, others might lack a home address or sufficient collateral necessary to qualify for one. Still others, who live in very rural areas, may not have access to a credit provider.

So we provide risk-free conditional seed capital in the form of Trickle Up Spark Grants. Coupled with business training, these funds enable participants to establish and nurture small businesses — and to take their first steps out of poverty.

We see Trickle Up as the "first step" on the microfinance continuum. Once they have established their small businesses, participants can often access other microfinance services that were previously unavailable to them.

Why Women?

The key to economic development lies in unleashing women’s potential and investing in women’s capabilities, as women play a critical role in supplementing household income. Unfortunately, they still have inequitable access to and control over resources. By reaching poor women, Trickle Up seeks to ensure equitable and sustainable program impact within households and communities.

Besides a Spark Grant, how else do you help participants?

In addition to providing Spark Grants, we train participants to create savings groups, which they use as renewable sources of money and continue long after the Trickle Up program is over. At these savings group meetings. women come together to collect and save money which can then be reinvested in each other’s businesses, or act as an insurance buffer in the event of external shocks such as crop failure or a death in the family. These groups also act as a forum to build solidarity among women in the community, and also a space to share ideas for their growing businesses.

We also work through local nongovernmental partner organizations who implement the Trickle Up program and support participants so they can more skillfully manage their businesses.

How do you choose your participants?

Our selection process is an exhaustive collaboration with our local partner organizations and the communities we work in. Our partners work with people in the local community to literally “map” the village. By engaging in these discussions with community members, our partners are able to locate the poorest inhabitants. This is followed up with door-to-door double checks by both the partners and Trickle Up field staff to ensure the poorest have been reached. This two to three month process encapsulates the development industry’s best practices for poverty targeting, and ensures Trickle Up remains true to its mission of helping the poorest of the poor.

How do you choose your partners?

Due diligence. Trickle Up program staff complete a rigorous check on potential partners. We evaluate partners' missions to be sure that their vision is compatible with our own. We only partner with organizations that have experience providing business or other training, and which have a good working relationship with the local community. We also conduct thorough audits of potential partners' programs, outreach, target communities and financial practices.

What kind of training do you provide to your partners?

Trickle Up provides rigorous training to its partner organizations on the use of locally appropriate poverty assessment tools. This training ensures that only very poor participants are selected to receive assistance.

Partners are also instructed on how best to provide business-related training like writing business plans and balancing accounts, so that they can assist participants as they prepare to launch or expand microenterprises.

Importantly, we train partners on how to properly monitor and evaluate our programs.

How do you know the money is spent on the business?

We have a variety of ways of ensuring accountability. First, we disburse Spark Grants in two installments, the second of which is conditional on appropriate use of the first. Our close relationships with our partners in addition to regular site visits by Trickle Up staff enable us to evaluate whether participants have used their grants appropriately.

How do you measure success? 

We consider our work successful if the people we serve have made significant and sustainable progress out of extreme poverty in that they:

  • Are less vulnerable to shocks and trends.

  • Have livelihood activities that are dignified, diversified, productive and sustainable.

  • Have a fair and effective means to save and access credit.

  • Have improved access to available basic social services.

  • Enjoy a better quality of life, including improved food security.

  • Have made significant progress toward economic and social empowerment.

How do you monitor and evaluate your programs?

Trickle Up works to ensure a robust monitoring and evaluation process in collaboration with our local partners in collecting data on participants before, during, and after the program. We rigorously measure these outcomes to ensure we are helping the very poorest people take the first steps out of extreme poverty. We use specially designed measurements to assess these changes in participants' households—for example, food security, education, and reduced vulnerability—and how these changes happen.

Upon analysis, we can adjust our program to best address the needs of participants and help them maximize positive outcomes in their lives. This information also provides invaluable education for Trickle Up staff in the planning of our future programs.

How do you choose the countries you work in?

We work in some of the world's poorest countries — including India, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Burkina Faso and Mali — which rank at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.

Can I give to a specific country?

If you feel moved to earmark your donation for a specific country in which we are working, we welcome your gift. But please note that non-country-specific donations made to support Trickle Up give us greater flexibility to respond to needs as and where they arise.

Can my donation really help?

Yes. Your donation will be used to help very poor people start or nurture a business to lift themselves, and their families, out of poverty.

Each business we help to launch — each single person we assist — improves the lives of an average of five people.

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