Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


The Trickle Up Program is a US-based organization engaged in microenterprise development for very poor households in 14 core countries, including India. Because it targets the most vulnerable sections of the population, such as the rural landless, women-led households, people with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged minorities, TUP employs a seed capital grant strategy to facilitate its clients' movement from absolute poverty toward economic self-reliance. TUP clients cannot risk taking a loan because they have no spare income to make payments if their enterprises do not generate an immediate profit. A conditional grant, in contrast to credit, exposes its recipients to less risk and allows them to grow a business with a longer payback period. This paper draws from a recent study of the Alternative for Rural Movement, one of TUP's partner agencies in rural Orissa, India, and shows that its TUP clients moved successfully from a position of extreme vulnerability to one of significantly improved economic self-reliance.


Jan Maes is a consultant in microenterprise development and impact assessment. From 2000 to April 2005 he was a program officer and then a program evaluation officer with the Trickle Up Program.; Malika Basu is a freelance consultant in the field of rural and social development, and presently a Ph.D. Fellow at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands.



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Journal of Microfinance

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