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From the CGAP Blog: Impact Research and the Role of Coaching In Poverty Reduction

February 22, 2013
“We’ve started using the river’s water for agriculture. Although the river has been there forever, we didn’t use it for our fields. Our Field Worker didn’t give us the river, but he did give us the knowledge to use it for cultivation.” Saro Mandi, India

Women receive weekly coaching support from Field Workers who help them think to the future, find new strategies for earning money and facilitate their progress out of poverty. Read this CGAP – Consultative Group to Assist the Poor blogpost by Janet Heisey for how we’re learning more about effective coaching.

Read more at:

A Discussion on Why Coaching Matters for the Ultrapoor

December 13, 2012


On November 29th, 2012, Trickle Up hosted Coaching Matters: Unleashing Human Potential, a panel to help bring about new understanding of Trickle Up participants’ journeys out of ultrapoverty – with the help of their coaches.

The panelists included:

  • John Starks, New York Knicks Guard, 1990-1998
  • Reshmi Paul, Ph.D., Executive Coach & Leadership Consultant, ghSMART
  • Janet Heisey, Director, Technical & Strategic Alliances, Trickle Up
  • Bill Abrams, President, Trickle Up (Moderator)
From left to right: Trickle Up Development Officer Shira Beery, Knicks Legend John Starks, Trickle Up President Bill Abrams

From left to right: Trickle Up Development Officer Shira Beery, Knicks Legend John Starks, Trickle Up President Bill Abrams

As Knicks great John Starks said, “Coaches are vital… you may not be putting the coaching label on it, but every day we are coached by people around us.” He would not have made it in the NBA if mentors like his brother or Pat Riley hadn’t seen something in him that he didn’t recognize in himself, and that’s exactly why coaching is essential to Trickle Up’s work with ultrapoor women around the world. But coaching is a tough gig, and Reshmi Paul’s advice to Trickle Up is to “create a mechanism of training the trainers so you don’t lose knowledge” and to enable scalability. Both Reshmi and John said that, if a coach is working too hard, he’s not doing his job well; the mark of a great coach is someone who empowers others to “police themselves.”

When we first announced this panel, we got a few puzzled responses asking about the relevance of the New York Knicks or Fortune 500 CEOs to Trickle Up’s work helping women start on a pathway out of poverty. John and Reshmi, in conversation with our own Janet Heisey, found the common denominators.  One was the necessity for coaches to be persistent and patient. That reminded me of a Trickle Up participant in India who told us: “When dada [affectionate nickname for field worker] first approached, we were so shy that we would cover our heads and hide. But he was relentless and told us not to be afraid. Finally we gave in.”

Today, December 3rd, is the International Day of People with Disabilities

December 3, 2012 the 3rd of December every year, the International Day of People with Disabilities is celebrated worldwide.

According to the United Nations, over one billion people, or approximately 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of a disability.

Known as “the world’s largest minority”, people with disabilities often face a variety of barriers, from social exclusion in their communities to an inability to access economic opportunities. Not surprisingly, people with disabilities account for 20% of the population living in extreme poverty.

This is why this year’s theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”. Evidence shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in everyday life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

Trickle Up is proud of its commitment to include people with disabilities in our work. Most recently in October 2010, supported by USAID, we launched the Microenterprise Opportunities for People with Disabilities project in Guatemala to support and enable 320 people with disabilities to develop livelihood activities, learn how to best manage those activities and begin saving regularly. To this date, our project works to remove barriers that inhibit our participants from reaching their fullest potential. Prior to this in 2009, Trickle Up began the Stronger Voices, Sustainable Livelihoods project to support people with disabilities in Mali and won InterAction’s first Disability Inclusion Award. In 2011, 14%of Trickle Up participants are affected by disabilities. Learn more…

blog digest magdalenaMagdalena Tambriz Cuc de Xolcaja is one of the 320 members in Guatemala that Trickle Up has helped to develop a sustainable livelihood, save money, learn new business skills and gain new-found confidence for their future.  For most of her 30 years, Magdalena was completely dependent on her family. As one of six children, she was kept indoors by her parents, who wanted to protect her from the stigma that goes with having a disability in her community. When Trickle Up began recruiting people with disabilities in her community to join our project, she was keen to seize the opportunity. In an interview with Trickle Up’s President Bill Abrams, Magdalena explained how her Trickle Up grant gave her the capital she needed to buy her materials for her weaving business. One day, she hopes to pursue her dream of starting a food cart business. Read her full story here…

Join us today, December 3rd, as we recognize the incredible achievements of Magdalena and other people with disabilities around the world! 

Today, October 17th, is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

October 17, 2012

This is a day when we at Trickle Up take time to reflect, recognize and celebrate the economic and social achievements of women and men past, present and future.

Featured Blogpost: French Fries Or Weaving: Choosing The “Right” Business

When I met Magdalena Tambriz Cuc de Xolcaja, she was sitting on the dirt floor of her home with a backstrap loom and a tableau of brilliant blue embroidery. Even in a country renowned for the skills of its weavers, Magdalena’s craftsmanship is a stand out.

So why does she really want to cook fried potatoes for a living?

Read more…

(This blog is part of a series in recognition of the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Oct. 17)

Trickle Up featured in the Hindu Business Line!

October 15, 2012

Trickle Up has been featured in an article by Jayanta Mallick in the Hindu Business Line. As our regional office in Kolkota, India begins work on an ambitious expansion, Trickle Up’s Regional Representative Jui Gupta walks us through her plan of action: “We are going in for registration as a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Companies Act. We have also decided to take Government and private funds to expand our grassroots activity.”

“We believe the work we are doing is a responsibility of a welfare state & society at large”, Jui adds.

Trickle Up’s India program has served 12,000 ultrapoor women—the poorest of the poor— with training, a spark grant and savings group support in some eight districts in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal since 2006.

Click here to read “Trickle Up preparing for Indian identity”

Happy International Day of the Girl!

October 11, 2012

Here at Trickle Up, we strive to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty through empowering ultrapoor women to work towards and dream of a better future for their children.

Coming Next Week, Watch the “Half the Sky” Documentary

September 28, 2012

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and great friends of ours here at Trickle Up. Have you read their book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide?

Well, it has now been turned into a documentary and premieres in 4 days! Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide was filmed in ten countries. It follows Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe, oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. Such problems as gender-based violence and maternal mortality, which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds, present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change. All over the world, women are seizing this opportunity—including Trickle Up participants!

In their book, Kristof and WuDunn show how a little support can transform the lives of women and girls all over the world. “Women are not the problem,” they write, “they are the solution”.  How so? Studies have indicated that when women hold assets or gain income, that money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing; consequently, their families are healthier. According to Half the Sky, for every dollar a woman earns, she invests 80 cents in her family; men are more likely to spend the majority on themselves. If a woman is given access to microfinance, livestock gifts and proper vocational training, she can begin to take charge of her own life and of her family’s income. The outcome? She becomes the solution to combating gender inequality.

Putting money in the hands of women can have a positive long-term effect on the whole family, which is why Trickle Up is committed to serving women who have traditionally had limited financial independence. In fact, 98% of our participants are women. And like the women interviewed by Kristof and WuDunn, Trickle Up participants are also lifting themselves from poverty and becoming role models for others in their communities.

Join Trickle Up in celebrating the national broadcast event of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide on PBS’ Independent Lens on October 1st and 2nd at 8PM EST (check your local listings). 


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