Event Recap - Trickle Up: Microfinance Brown Bag Discussion

On 22 June 2016, Give2Asia hosted a brown-bag lunch event in which representatives from the nonprofit organization Trickle Up shared insights about their microfinance programs in India.

President Bill Abrams introducing the mission of their organization.

Bill Abrams, President of Trickle Up, outlined the business model that they have refined over the past 37 years to shift vulnerable peoples out of the bottom most levels of poverty. Trickle Up targets the most at-risk members of society (namely female, scheduled caste, indigenous, and disabled persons), and work with local partners to build financial literacy and savings habits. By providing grants rather than loans, utilizing the “graduation” approach to poverty alleviation, and fostering a sense of supportive community within local contexts, Trickle Up has witnessed tremendous progress in alleviating extreme poverty. Trickle Up’s goal in the next five years is to lift more than a million people out of extreme poverty, and in order to reach this goal Trickle Up has established partnerships with larger organizations.

“It’s important to use an evidence-based system and adapt it to each local context,” explained Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Amenee Siahpush. Siahpush emphasized that Trickle Up considered long-term data collected from trials in many countries to refine its business model, and that its commitment to ongoing monitoring and transparency keep them accountable. They incorporate innovative technology into their projects, engaging people with smartphones and specialized apps that make them more active agents in their own advancement.

Rhonda Zapatka, Vice President of Development and Communications, drew on the power of sustainable practice and instilling hope in a community. She explained the critical power of the savings groups, which are carefully selected groups of ten women who work together to achieve project goals, holding each other accountable while establishing a network of support that often extends far beyond the endpoint of the official program. “I cannot stress enough how empowering these savings groups are,” Zapatka shared, demonstrating the long-term sustainability of these projects. “These women come together… they rise up and take on big issues in the community.”

During a lively question and answer session, the representatives continued to address the concerns and curiosities of their audience with discussions of the challenges posed by technology, the new role of government partnerships, and the sociopolitical challenges that they seek to mitigate.

Give2Asia is proud to have worked with Trickle Up on projects in India since 2008. These projects have had staggering impacts on the livelihoods of women in Bengal, Jharkhand, and Odisha. Visit the Trickle Up webpage to review stories of their successes in India and other regions, as well as to garner information about their well-tested system of philanthropy through microfinance. For more information on how you can support Trickle Up, please contact Give2Asia.