Learn more about Trickle Up

1. Tell us about your mission.

Trickle Up’s mission is to help people living in extreme poverty and vulnerability advance their economic and social well-being. We reach the extreme poor, those living on less than $1.90 a day, who are most economically and socially excluded across rural Asia, Africa, and the Americas. These include women, people with disabilities, refugees and other vulnerable people who live beyond the reach of most organizations and social service programs.

We use the Trickle Up Graduation Approach, a proven method for building livelihoods and inclusion for the extreme poor. It is a targeted combination of coaching and livelihoods training, seed capital for starting a microenterprise, and involvement in savings groups that serve as a source of financial and social capital.

We drive large-scale by partnering with governments, global institutions, and local organizations to increase the impact of our work.

2. How is The West Foundation supporting your mission?

The West Foundation is currently supporting a Trickle Up project advising the World Bank, governments, and local NGOs in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal on how to help women and households create sustainable livelihoods.

We are helping our partners design effective programming, develop training manuals and tools adapted to each country’s local context, and increase their capacity to implement the Graduation Approach. Beyond these steps, we are rigorously evaluating the process and will consolidate and disseminate our learnings from the project to provide more effective programming globally.

3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is The West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?

The West Foundation has been a generous supporter to Trickle Up since 1997 and, notably, was an early funder to Trickle Up in West Africa. The West Foundation’s willingness to fund early-stage programs, such as the opening of our West Africa program 15 years ago, has helped us reach the level we are at today in West Africa: working with partners including the World Bank and national governments and recognized worldwide for our commitment to serving those at the deepest levels of poverty and our expertise in developing and managing effective livelihoods and financial inclusion programs.

The West Foundation’s trust and support over the years has been instrumental to our ability to help tens of thousands of women build the skills, resources, and confidence they need to sustain better lives for their families.

4. How are you realizing your potential?

In 2019, we worked in 19 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. We have permanent offices in New York, Guatemala, and India, and work through a mix of long-term partnerships where we directly support implementation and capacity building relationships where we provide technical advice to larger partners. Some highlights of our work in the past year:
– Vulnerable populations: Working with governments and institutional partners, we are helping women, youth, people with disabilities, refugees, and indigenous people overcome barriers to opportunity, learning how anti-poverty programs can become more relevant for each specific group, and demonstrating how we can work together to help them build sustainable livelihoods and become leaders in their communities.
– Climate change: We provide short-term recovery funds to help our families rebuild after natural disasters, and in the long-term, help them adapt and diversify their livelihoods to be more resilient to future climate catastrophes.
– Digital connections: We are investing in digital initiatives to help us adapt to the needs of the poorest in a post-COVID world and take our program to the next level of impact. We apply mobile tools to every dimension of Trickle Up’s work – program, operations, finance, communications – but we aim to do more.
– Building local capacity: We are helping governments around the world adopt the savings and coaching methodologies that are central to our Graduation Approach so that they can continue implementing without long-term Trickle Up support.
– Efficiency & effectiveness: Charity Navigator once again rated Trickle Up as a four-star charity, its top designation, reflecting for our commitment to financial efficiency, accountability, and transparency.

To get an idea of our impact:
– 86% of our participants “graduate” based on a suite of metrics showing that the household has a sustainable income source to support a satisfactory quality of life.
– 91% of recent participants have savings equivalent to three-plus months of household expenses.
– 83% of participants reported improvements in household food security.

5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?

The public health, economic, and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are challenges to virtually every individual and community on the planet. The negative impacts will fall hardest on those who have always struggled to overcome extreme poverty, vulnerability, marginalization, and powerlessness. With 150 million more people expected to fall into extreme poverty as a direct result of the pandemic, Trickle Up’s work is more important than ever.

Over the past eight months, we have completed two phases of assessments and are using these results to adjust programs and projects. Our savings groups are continuing to function, though adaptations like reducing the size of group meetings, social distancing, using digital apps to meet virtually. We are expanding training and resources on growing home gardens, which provide a critical lifeline that allows people to continue feeding their families, and even support neighbors, with fresh food while markets are shut down. We are also developing more targeted market assessments adapted to a socially distanced world and using new digital tools are helping us stay in touch with participants, savings groups, and coaches.

6. How can people reading this help you?

Go to trickleup.org/donate to make a gift about Trickle Up or learn more about our work. The skills that Trickle Up fosters – managing a business, planning for the future, building confidence, and mobilizing women’s voices within their households and communities – have never been more important.

With 41 years of experience and trusted relationships with our participants and partners, we stand ready to help people restore the livelihoods that Trickle Up had helped them establish. Our partners and field staff are helping ensure that Trickle Up participants have access to relief programs providing food, supplies, and other necessities, and have accurate information in local languages. As we have done before, we will help our participants rebuild their savings, access government and other resources, and adapt to evolving rules and norms in their communities.

For the thousands of families that Trickle Up has helped escape extreme poverty, the current threat is clear: The coronavirus pandemic could force them back down to their pre-Trickle Up poverty level. We are determined not to let that happen. Help us, by making a gift today.


Photo courtesy: Trickle Up