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Indigenous Peoples
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Indigenous women, all Trickle Up participants, meeting with their savings group in Guatemala.

There are about 350 million indigenous people in the world. They comprise about 5% of the world's population but make up about 15% of the world's poor. They are often among the poorest peoples and the poverty gap between indigenous and non-indigenous groups is increasing in many countries around the world.

Indigenous peoples are the guardians of ancient cultures and traditions, but their ability to uphold them becomes ever more challenging due to their lack of economic opportunity. Living far from cities or centers of commerce, they tend to have much less power and influence over their governments and local policy makers, who could affect change and improve their quality of life. Indigenous peoples have long faced social exclusion, marginalization, and limited economic opportunity, factors that contribute to a cycle of generational poverty. Indigenous women suffer the most from double discrimination because they are indigenous and because they are women.

Indigenous people have knowledge of artistic processes, languages, herbal medicine, farming techniques, and more. When they are forced to migrate to urban centers in search of income, they are usually forced by the dominant culture to abandon their native dress, their language, their cultural traditions and unity. When Trickle Up works with indigenous people so they can remain and thrive in their own rural communities, we are not only alleviating their extreme poverty, we are also enabling the preservation of culture and traditions that are otherwise lost forever.

Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among the extremely poor, accounting for one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor people living in rural areas:

  • Indigenous peoples’ level of access to health and education services is well below national averages. As a consequence, extreme poverty rates are higher among these groups compared to the rest of the population.

  • Trickle Up’s participants in Guatemala are 100% indigenous, primarily members of the Qeqchi, Kakchiquel, and Quiche communities.

  • In India, 48% of Trickle Up participants are members of tribal communities.

Trickle Up understands that to overcome poverty, indigenous peoples require support that is based on their individual needs, addresses the obstacles they encounter in everyday life, and helps protect their cultural identity. Our livelihood development programs place a focus not just on establishing a livelihood with a Trickle Up Spark Grant, but also emphasizes building people's capacities, leadership, and confidence through interactive training programs, and mentoring and participation in women-led savings groups. It's a mix of activities that leads to the sustainability of their livelihoods and businesses over time.

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