While much progress has been made to reduce poverty in Asia in recent years, extreme poverty persists in many places. 42% of the global population living in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $1.90 per day) live in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific. There is a growing number of urban poor and an intensifying wealth gap between the ultra-rich and ultra-poor. Over 50% of all stunted children and the majority of wasted children under five live in Asia.”1


In the past 15 years, India has experienced tremendous economic growth and transformation; however, this growth has been highly unequal. Despite becoming a middle-income country and significantly decreasing the percentage of its population who live in extreme poverty, India is still home to 1/3 of the global population of people living in extreme poverty.2 In many areas, the vulnerability of people living in extreme poverty has increased over the past 10 years due to climate change and financial and social exclusion.3


In India, Trickle Up works with vulnerable populations, including women and members of societal minorities, such as Scheduled Castes and Tribes, which are groups of historically disadvantaged indigenous people.4 These outgroups are likely to be among the poorest, as they are largely excluded from economic opportunities that would bring their families out of extreme poverty.5 They are concentrated primarily in the states and villages of eastern India where Trickle Up works. They face chronic hunger and starvation on a regular basis and children in these communities face higher rates of malnutrition.6 Women in India not only face social exclusion, but also are at high risk to gender based violence and often lack access to government services, health care, and social protection programs.7


While poverty rates in Bangladesh have improved significantly in recent years, 1 out of 4 people still live in poverty.8 Bangladeshi women’s already diminished access to jobs and education is impacted by the prevalence of adolescent marriage, as Bangladesh has the third highest percentage of young brides in the world. Nearly 75% of marriages in some areas of Bangladesh include a woman under the age of 18. A lack of access to contraception and female health care has significantly increased the prevalence of STDs and heightened the risk of pregnancy related deaths.9


The correlation between early marriage and stunted education remains a major obstacle to women improving their livelihoods. In 2007, 82% of women in Bangladesh ages 20-24 with no education and 80% of women with just primary education were married by age 18.10 The poorest people live in rural areas, where early marriage rates are highest and education rates are lowest, and the opportunities for social mobility are sparse.


As Vietnamese industry-filled cities emerge on a global platform, rural dwellers still live in dire conditions of poverty in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Farmland has not recovered from the use of toxic poisons and farmers still come across leftover bombs as they attempt to cultivate their land.11 Rural households comprised of mostly women are especially susceptible to poverty, and families belonging to ethnic minorities are even more susceptible. In rural communities, access to cultivatable land and means for production is a mechanism for personal economic advancement. While ethnic minorities make up less than 15% of Vietnam’s population, they account for nearly 50% of the people living in poverty.12


Women in Vietnam are subject to systematic disenfranchisement concerning access to land rights, with fluctuating access to water and electricity, making socioeconomic mobility extremely difficult for women living in extreme poverty. Women in wage-paying jobs still face extreme inequality, earning 72% of a man’s wage in industrial work and 62% of a man’s wage in agricultural labor.13 The community of Vietnamese women in rural poverty are systematically left behind in the advancement of Vietnam on a prosperous global level.

Where we work

India (Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal), Bangladesh, Vietnam


India Statistics:

  • 259.5 million people live in extreme poverty in India9
  • The percentage of people living in extreme poverty in India decreased by 10.1% in just two years (2009-2011)10
  • In 2005, 44.7% of the population of rural Scheduled Tribes lived in poverty and 37.1% of rural Scheduled Castes, compared to just 28.1% of the total rural population of India11
  • A 2005 survey of Scheduled Tribes in two Indian states found that 99% of households faced chronic hunger and 25% faced semi-starvation within the last week12
  • Nearly 53% of children in Scheduled Tribes were reported to be stunted and 29% were severely stunted13
  • Only 27% of women participate in the labor force in India14
  • 40% of Indian women report experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, though an independent survey led by the Planning Commission of India suggests that the total percentage is closer to 84%15
  • 8.5% of women in India report experiencing sexual violence within their lifetimes16

Trickle Up’s Impact

the increase in participants’ annual incomes after three years of the program in India.
of participants save on a regular basis in India, compared to only 10% before Trickle Up.
of participant families in India reported sometimes or often not having enough to eat last year, compared to 45% before.
of participant households in India engaged in some form of community advocacy, up from only 1% before participation.

Trickle Up’s History in Asia

Trickle Up has worked in Asia since 1980 and in India since 1982. We established our current regional field office in Kolkata, West Bengal, in 2006. Working with the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Ford Foundation, we piloted our first Graduation project in India in 2007.


Over the last ten years, Trickle Up has built strong partnerships and formed a network of community-based NGOs and government social protection programs in some of the poorest districts of Odisha, West Bengal, and Jharkhand. In 2016, we began partnerships with Concern Worldwide and Plan International to expand our programs to Bangladesh and Vietnam. Together with our partners, Trickle Up Asia has developed an expertise in reaching those at the last mile of poverty and become a leader in the design and implementation of Graduation programs that economically, financially, and socially empower excluded and marginalized groups.