Trickle Up’s approach to Graduation is an adaptable program specifically designed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people living in extreme poverty.

Our program puts people at the center of their own development, where they gain livelihoods skills and financial literacy, consumption support and risk-free capital, a safe place to save and access credit, and continuous coaching. Women and their families become more resilient, self-sufficient, and confident, and become full participants in the economic and social lives of their communities.

Step 1. Participant Selection

Local communities are involved from the start

We work in partnership with local organizations and communities to help us identify households who will benefit most from our programs. When we enter a community, we seek the input of its members and leaders in selecting participants for our program. Together, we map the community down to the household and engage in a robust discussion to reach a consensus as to which households are the poorest and most vulnerable. Field workers from our local community-based partners then visit each household to verify the community’s consensus and help us select participants.

Step 2. Consumption Support

A solid start and insurance against tough times along the way

Families living in extreme poverty must often prioritize short-term needs, like finding their next meal, over long-term investments in income-generating activities. They face constant risks like local market fluctuations, extreme weather, or other shocks, which can destabilize a vulnerable family and prevent them from engaging in a productive activity. To ensure participants can focus on developing their livelihoods, we provide small stipends when necessary to stabilize families at the start, or in the event of a failed crop, sudden illness, or other setback during our program.

Step 3. Livelihood Coaching & Training, Risk-free Capital Investment

Women are empowered to start income-generating activities

Once they agree to participate, women are introduced to coaches who will provide support and advice throughout the entire program through regular home visits. At the start, coaches work with women and their families to identify income-generating activities and market opportunities. They then decide which activity best suits their goals, existing skills, and assets, and begin experiential training in their chosen activity. For example, this could include best practices for planting, irrigation, fertilization, and harvesting for those engaged in growing crops. To start their activity, they’re provided a risk-free seed capital grant from Trickle Up. Throughout the program, women receive continuous training and coaching on how to grow their business and access government programs that may benefit them. Depending on the local context, activities may include agriculture, livestock rearing, or shop-keeping, among others.

Step 4. Building Savings & a Social Network

Women come together in groups to save, share advice, and raise their voices

Living in extreme poverty often means women lack financial education and access to financial tools, and face social isolation and marginalization in communities – and even in households. While not a magic bullet, a sturdy metal savings box with three keys can have a surprisingly profound effect. When women join our program, they’re organized into savings and credit groups of around 15-25 members each. They gather to pool their savings, access loans for emergencies or productive investments, and learn financial skills. Some groups, like the women of Las Azucenas, even undertake cooperative activities like larger-scale production of cash crops or lobbying local governments for improvements to roads and water systems. Group meetings provide a safe space for women to build social networks outside of the home and provide advice and encouragement, increasing confidence and serving as a forum for expression.

Step 5. Graduation

Women are resilient, self-sufficient, and confident

After 18-36 months, women and their families report achieving higher, steadier incomes, being able to put more and higher-quality food on the table, sending children to school, and making improvements to their homes like adding sturdier roofs and floors. Having achieved success at one livelihood, many women start one or two more to earn even greater incomes and become more resilient should one activity fail. Many can write their names for the first time, instead of needing to identify themselves with a thumbprint. They report being more confident using their voice at home and in the community. Women have a greater role in household decision-making, advocate for community improvements, and participate in local government.