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Investing in Women
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Rural women in Mali pose after a meeting of their savings group.


“As more cash and assets get into the hands of women, more of these earnings get into the mouths, medicine, and schoolbooks of their children, while at the same time increasing women’s bargaining position and power in the family and community; and their ability to act against violence in the home and in the world. There is no development strategy more beneficial to society as a whole - women and men alike - than the one which involves women as central players.”

- Kofi Annan, Former Secretary -General of the United Nations

The key to economic development lies in unleashing women’s potential and investing in women’s capabilities. Women bear a disproportionate weight of the world's poverty, representing 70% of the world's poor. At the same time, it has been widely recognized that women have the potential to be the engine of economic and development progress. Addressing gender inequalities are crucial factors in enabling women to transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities. 

Women’s roles as the primary caretakers of children, providers of household fuel and water, and in many areas of the world, producers of food, can only begin to illustrate their importance in the economies and societies of developing countries. However, it is a stunning fact that while women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the food, they only earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the land.

Trickle Up is committed to serving women, who comprise 98% of Trickle Up's participants, and the Trickle Up program is particularly designed for, and ideally suited to women. As a result of the following program components, women are able to start or expand a microenterprise, many for the first time:

  • The Spark Grant gives women access to capital, which they usually would not have otherwise. Women generally find this approach more appealing than credit, as they are often “risk averse” and lacking assets, making them mostly ineligible for microloans.

  • A vast majority of our women participants are illiterate, and the Trickle Up skills training program is designed to be highly interactive, using games, “learning conversations” and one-on-one mentoring that also helps build confidence. The topics cover both skills to strengthen their businesses, as well as basic sanitation, nutrition, and rights awareness.

  • By working together in savings groups, women free themselves from domestic isolation and are able find a social safety net. They also learn leadership skills and gain access to new information and resources.

Weaving, haircutting, tailoring, raising pigs, chickens, and goats, selling tortillas, hair clips, eggs, empanadas, rice pancakes, couscous, and ice cream are just a few of the many activities women chose that allow them to not only earn more money, but take the first step in transforming their lives. The Trickle Up program is an empowering process that is not limited to increased income, but also leads to increases in self-esteem, decision-making ability, and control over their economic resources in terms of the central issues of buying and selling land, family planning, sending daughters to school, and deciding when children will marry.

Trickle Up is committed to being a catalyst for change in the lives of women who have traditionally had limited financial independence and low social standing. They are lifting themselves from poverty and becoming role models for other women and girls in their families and communities. It is then that they become active members of their communities and the architects of their own future.

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