Susie Crippen & Trickle Up in Guatemala III: Discovering Community Impact

In the fall of 2012, Trickle Up had the pleasure of welcoming fashion designer Susie Crippen to Guatemala to see our program first-hand. This three part series is of Susie’s journey to the Central American country to learn more about what it means to live in ultrapoverty and how Trickle Up betters the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable every day. In Susie’s own words: “Starting a business changes you. It opens a world of accomplishment, curiosity and confidence like nothing else. I know this first hand from having done so at J Brand. The most rewarding part of my trip was to see that familiar glow on the more than 40 woman who had participated in the Trickle Up program and were continuing to grow their businesses and work their way out of poverty.”
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Susie Crippen: There’s something that I discovered when I started my own business that there was this thing that opened in me. There’s something that happens inside your soul, inside your heart, the center of your chest when you accomplish something and you see that you can now do something that you had no idea that you could do before. Honestly I really think I came here to see if what Trickle Up does creates that feeling in other women.

The next stop on our Guatemalan journey is the home of Delfina, a mother of 8 children who was a Trickle Up participant 4 years ago, and has continued to reap the benefits of the program. What makes Trickle Up successful is that they provide small grants, not loans, combined with planning, training, and savings support to help the poorest people build a brighter future.

Delfina (via translator): Before, she had a very deteriorated dwelling. It was really bad conditions. But thanks to the seed capital, she accomplished working more. She started planting cilantro and weaving and she was able to buy three pieces of land in another area.

Susie: It’s amazing to learn how in the course of just 4 years, her life, and the life of her family has changed so drastically.
The methodology that Trickle Up has introduced really works and it works over a long period of time and it works even after the participants are out of the program.

Nowhere is this better witnessed than with Delfina’s savings group “Las Azucenas”. At the heart of the success of Trickle Up’s programs are savings groups just like this one. By coming together, these women save more than they could alone.

Gilma Floridalma Tipol, Saving Group President: Before this group was formed, If I were to have 100 Quetzales and I save it in the closet, but in my mind I have 100 Quetzales and in whatever moment, I can go get it. Now, in the group I know this money isn’t mine, it’s the group’s. Therefore, like this we achieve saving the money.

Susie: These savings buffer against shocks, and participants can also access loans from the group to grow their businesses.

Delfina (via translator): The kids are studying, because of her earnings, and she was able to get a portable computer in order for her kids to their work. Here she is carrying it… And they also have a printer.

Susie: Backstrap weaving is passed down from generation to generation among the women of Guatemala, so I was thrilled to spend my last few hours here being taught this very special craft. What I’m struck by is what is at work here. The drive, the feeling that they get from creating their businesses, from having income, to providing for their families, expanding their businesses is very similar to the feeling that I get from my creating my business. It’s that human element of purpose. If you have a purpose every day and that purpose gives you pride and gives you courage and confidence, that’s a beautiful purpose. That’s a beautiful purpose.

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