Pathways to Inclusion

Trickle Up’s Empowering Women and Youth through Graduation and Financial Inclusion project, funded by MetLife Foundation, delivered a holistic package of livelihood interventions with financial inclusion components to economically empower vulnerable and marginalized women and youth in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
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In 2017, Trickle Up and the Metlife Foundation embarked on a three-year program in Asia to lift 20,000 households out of extreme poverty. The program was managed by Trickle Up Asia, based in India with overight and support by the New York Trickle Up team.

In Bangladesh, 13,000 women participants were selected from the Kurigram district, which has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country and is highly vulnerable to flooding. In Vietnam, 7,000 women were recruited from the central highlands.

The goal of the program was to increase their social and economic resilience through diversified livelihood options, savings and loans groups and access to financial services. Despite unprecedented natural disasters in both countries and the global Covid-19 pandemic that hit in 2020, by the end of the program an average of 95% of participants had successfully met the criteria we set out at the start: increased food security, savings, assets and self-determination.

Please meet Ho Thi Kho, whose story illustrates her family’s journey of transformation, thanks to MetLife Foundation and Trickle Up…and her own determination to escape extreme poverty.

“My name is Ho Thi Ko. My children are small. My husband doesn’t have a stable job. He supports me through farming work. My first child is in second grade. Every day, he walks to school alone. Sometimes he goes to school without having breakfast because we do not have enough money to buy food.”

“My husband is too shy to participate in social activities. We only have small farming land which is very far from home. So we bring lunch and our small baby to the field and work until late afternoon. Every year, we don’t have enough rice for meals, so we have to borrow from others.”

In 2018, Ho Thi Ko joined the Empowering Women and Youth through Graduation and Financial Inclusion project.

Today she envisions a different future.

“My family and I were trained on the new livelihoods models with the attentive guidance from experienced community coaches and staff. Our friendly coaches had a good understanding of the local situation. Therefore, we could easily understand the content and participate in training sessions with confidence.”

“The coaches helped our families to understand our capabilities, resources, and needs in order to choose appropriate livelihoods. Behind my house, there is a plot of land with lots of grass, so I chose to raise goats. In my opinion, choosing a suitable livelihood is very important.”
“With the coaches support, we used materials available at hand to build our stables. After the stables were completed, the coaches assisted me in getting the money to buy seeds from the commune project management board. We looked for and bought the goats from other households in nearby villages by ourselves.”

“Because this is the first time we have raised goats, what we found the most difficult is how to take care of them. But thanks to what we learned from the training sessions and the direct support from the coaches, our family has become more confident in taking care of the goats. From two goats at the beginning, my herd has now increased to eleven.”

“In addition to raising goates, my family also plants upland rice and cassava, raises geese and sells fruit to earn income and improve our lives.”
“Every month, I also participate in the village savings and loan group. I am confident manageing my money thanks to what I have learned from the group meetings. The savings group is also a forum for members to share with each other about different topics such as how to better care for children, how to raise animals or plant trees productively, and so on.”

“After nearly two years participating in the project, I found myself changing for the better and I look forward to taking part in other social activities more confidently. I am very happy and would like to thank the coaches and project staff for helping my family and many others achieve significant changes.”

The success that women in Bangladesh achieved was the result of several inputs: disaster risk reduction training, linkages with government services, mentoring from local coaches, digital technologies, and diversification of income-generating activities. Women not only improved their economic security, they also gained social capital.

The confidence they acquired through managing their household budgets and making decisions with their communities has given them the strength to confront the future with the knowledge that they can control their own fate. This empowerment is an investment that will pay dividends long after our program ends.

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