Accessibility links

Breaking News

DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Trickle Up Program Helps the Poorest of the Poor - 2004-11-21

Broadcast: November 22, 2004

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report. There is an economic theory that says the best way to help those without money is to help those with money. Economic growth would then act like water moving slowly from a higher place to a lower one. It would "trickle down" through society in the form of more jobs, for example, and less need for public aid.

Not everyone believes in trickle down economics. An international organization based in New York calls itself the Trickle Up Program. This group is celebrating twenty-five years of work directly with very poor people to help them set up businesses.

The Trickle Up Program receives money from large companies and agencies that provide aid. Then it gives this money away, usually in two payments of fifty dollars each. This is called “seed capital.”

First a family or small group of people has to write a business plan. Trickle Up provides training to help them do this. If the plan is approved, the first payment of fifty dollars is given to start the business. Then, after about three months, if the business is operating, the second payment is made.

Money from the Trickle Up Program does not have to be paid back. This is different from the idea of micro-credit, or very small loans. Trickle Up officials say micro-credit programs often do not reach the poorest of the poor.

The Trickle Up Program says it has helped to build more than one hundred twenty thousand small businesses around the world. It says more than five hundred thousand people have been assisted over the last twenty-five years.

One of the stories told on its Web site is that of Dona Bernarda in a small town in Nicaragua. She is described as a survivor of the severe storm Hurricane Mitch in nineteen ninety-eight. She has had some health training, and provides free medical tests for malaria and dengue fever.

Trickle Up says Dona Bernarda wanted to do more to help her community. So she started a small store. At first she sold only ten food products and simple health supplies.

Then she received money from the program. Now, it says, Dona Bernarda sells thirty-four different products and hopes her store will become a center of the community. You can learn more about the Trickle Up Program at

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Gary Garriott. I'm Gwen Outen.