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Mobilizing a Public-Private Coalition to Tackle Extreme Poverty in India

Since 2015, Trickle Up has partnered with two state branches of India’s largest anti-poverty program—the National Rural Livelihoods Mission, or NRLM—whose mission is to reach 100 million people living in rural poverty within the next 10 years. The poverty reduction program focuses on enabling people living in poverty to access self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities.

Despite great strides towards the full financial inclusion of India’s poorest citizens, NRLM has had trouble reaching the poorest of the poor. One reason is their vast mandate to provide universal coverage to all people living in poverty. Another reason: those living at the deepest level of poverty are often unaware of services available to them or self-select out of government programs.

Trickle Up is working with the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) and the Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM) to design and implement economic strengthening programs to reach the extreme poor in these states, which have a combined population of 73 million. JSLPS and OLM selected Trickle Up’s technical assistance partnership because of our expertise in reaching women living in extreme poverty through the Graduation Approach.

The Graduation Approach provides women with livelihood and financial literacy training, membership in savings groups, seed capital grants to fund businesses and access to banking services, regular one-on-one coaching, and connections to basic government social services for the extreme poor. The projects will enable major Indian state agencies to more effectively reach marginalized groups living in extreme poverty.

Ultimately, this will provide Trickle Up with the ability to scale our approach throughout Jharkhand, Odisha, and other Indian states and share our learning globally.

Our partnership began by piloting Graduation in two districts of Jharkhand and two districts of Odisha with the goal of reaching 4,000 families in three years. We’ve already seen the project’s potential to exponentially increase the number of households in the program when we extended our work in Jharkhand into a third district earlier this year.

These government partnerships have also allowed us to increase our impact in India in other ways. In West Bengal, we are partnering with long-time local partner, PRASARI, to reach 11,000 participants as part of an initiative for the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation, a private-public partnership to promote the economic empowerment of indigenous groups in India.

To increase the capacity of our local partners to scale our program with NRLM agencies, we began a new three-year project in India with funding from the MetLife Foundation to build a structured partner alliance and resource community of eight community-based NGOs working with JSLPS and OLM. This alliance will focus on the economic and financial inclusion of the poorest, and increase the capacity of the alliance and its members to monitor, evaluate, learn, and scale.

Through these partnerships in 2016, Trickle Up reached a total of 32,733 women living in extreme poverty in India, benefiting 163,655 people. This is 8x the number of participants we reached in India in 2015.

In 2017, Trickle Up will continue reaching people directly through our community-based partners in India, while improving their effectiveness through the partnership alliance. We will also expand our reach in Jharkhand and Odisha and initiate partnerships with other state agencies with the potential to reach tens of thousands of households.