Empowering Adolescent Girls in Guatemala


Approximately 50% of Guatemalan youth are poor and 15% live in extreme poverty. On a subnational level, poverty is concentrated in rural indigenous communities where the challenges of extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition have persisted for decades and have not been effectively addressed by government or development agencies.


This project will take place in Ixcán, home to several indigenous Mayan groups that have resettled in the area over the last 20 years, following forced displacement during the decades of conflict in the region. The municipality is characterized by high levels of extreme poverty due in part to low levels of education, limited access to government social services, and high incidences of early pregnancy for young women. In 2015, the Ministry of Health reported that Ixcán has the second highest pregnancy rate in Guatemala for girls under 14. Together, these factors put women in particular and their children at higher risk of malnutrition, disability and death. Yet, patriarchal norms and local taboos limit the spread of information to young women regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights, disempowering them and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.


In ten rural communities in Ixcán, Trickle Up and our local partners are increasing the capacity of 100 young indigenous women to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Working with young women between the ages of 10 and 19, this project aims to increase participants’ income and financial literacy, capacity to access and manage appropriate savings and credit tools, and knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights. Participants will receive $82 (Q600) in seed capital to start or expand a business based on their business plans. In addition, the project will provide 100 of the young women’s fathers and brothers with trainings on gender-related issues and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Respecting Guatemalan law, productive activities of girls under 14 will be supervised and done in partnership with their mothers. Project activities will not interfere with, and will seek to promote, school attendance.


Project Objectives

  • Increase the capacity of 100 young Q’eqchi’ women in 9 communities of Guatemala to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty through a project integrating economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Increase the knowledge of 100 male family members of these women about gender-related issues and sexual and reproductive rights.


Project Data

Baseline Demographic Data

  • Participants are 14 years old on average. 48% are 15 years old or older and 52% between 10 and 14 years old
  • On average, participant household size is 7.29 people
  • 5% of households contain a person with a disability
  • 31% of households are headed by women
  • 99% of the participants know how to read and write
  • 99% had attended school at some grade level previously: 87% went to primary school, 12% had some degree of middle or secondary school education, and 1% did not attend any grade

Midline Data

  • 56% of participants started livestock activities (raising chickens and pigs)
  • 27% of participants grow and sell produce (corn, beans, vegetables, greens)
  • 24% of participants buy products wholesale to sell in the community (fruit, poultry, grains, yarn, flowers)
  • 14% of participants have a store
  • 7% of participants make and sell food
  • 1% of participants make and sell textiles
  • 2% of participants have other businesses (repair of electrical appliances, for example)

Endline Data

  • 100% of participant households have no incidence of severe hunger by the end of the program
  • 68% of households consume meat more frequently compared to the start of the project, with 88% of households consuming meat at least biweekly
  • 77% of households cultivate at least 5 types of nutritious crops. Participants doubled the diversity of their crops, from cultivating 7 different fruits or vegetables on average at the beginning to 14 on average at the end of the project
  • 74% of participants increased their economical contribution to their households
  • 58% of participants said their role in the household has changed since they contribute economically to the household expenses
  • Participants had $55 saved on average at the end of the project, and the value of their shares increased by 13% on average over the first year
  • 65% of participants took a loan from their savings group to invest in a productive activity
  • 82% of participants continued on to the second savings group cycle
  • 83% of participants increased their knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • 96% of participants (10 to 19 years-old) did not get pregnant during the project period
  • The combination of participants’ savings and working capital is $17,191 (Q132,933) at the end of the project. Accounting for the $7,895 (Q 60,000) given to participants as seed capital, the participants have generated an additional $9,596 (Q 72,933) in savings and working capital, which corresponds to an increase of 121% in earnings over the initial project investment.
  • 52% of participants are currently in school at the end of the project. 39% of young women indicated that their businesses help them afford their school expenses. 4% of participants emphasize that the project helped make their family aware of the importance of school. In 11% of cases, we identified that schooling is a family decision and not a result that should be attributed to the project.
  • 85% of participants completed at least 4 of the 6 Graduation criteria, including all participant households affected by a disability.

Ixcán, Quiché, Guatemala

Start Date: 1/1/2016 
End Date: 8/31/2017


Number of Participants: 100


Vulnerable Populations

Women, Rural, Indigenous Groups, People with Disabilities, Youth, Extreme Poor

Project Components

Stipend for Consumption Support, Asset Transfer, Coaching, Savings/Self-Help Groups (savings and credit services), Technical Livelihood Skills Training, Financial Literacy and Capability Training, Healthcare Services

Our Partners

FundaLachuá was established in 2007 as a non-governmental, non-profit development organization in Lachuá, Guatemala, composed of productive and social associations for people of Q’eqchi‘ ethnicity to help build a society that is fair, prosperous, democratic, and in harmony with the environment through the implementation of sustainable development programs to improve the livelihoods of the population and protect the natural resources of the region. FundaLachuá has partnered with Trickle Up since 2009.


The municipality of Ixcán has supported Trickle Up and FundaLachuá to help identify adults and children with disabilities living in extreme poverty for participation in Trickle Up projects, support the organization of savings groups, accompany project staff on home visits, and connect Trickle Up project participants with health issues to municipal health services. Trickle Up and the municipality of Ixcán have been pursuing a more formal partnership since 2013.

Other Project Partners

Centro de SaludIxcán