Over the last two decades, most countries in Latin America have enjoyed sustained economic growth and have achieved middle income status.¹ However, in what is the most unequal region in the world, growth has not been broadly shared and the absolute number of poor people has actually increased. While only 5% of people in the Americas live in extreme poverty², indigenous people, Afro-descendants, women, and people with disabilities continue to be disproportionately represented among those below the extreme poverty line (defined as living on under $1.90/day) and are often not well-served by government social protection programs or other organizations.³


Trickle Up primarily works with women, who are often excluded from economic opportunities and financial services. Women do not yet have an equal status in the workplace, and gender-based violence and early marriage and childbirth contribute to women’s low status in the region. In indigenous communities, intergenerational cycles of poverty and marginalization have kept families from increasing their incomes, savings, and food security. The Americas are also home to a large population of people with disabilities.4 People with disabilities living in extreme poverty face numerous barriers to adequate education, job opportunities, and health care services.

Central America

Central America in particular has experienced a succession of political and security crises over the last decade related to long histories of poverty, conflict, structural exclusion, injustice, corruption, and organized crime. The region’s acute vulnerability to climate change has placed additional pressure on the poor with higher variability in agricultural production and an increase in natural disasters. Together, these forces leave millions of Central Americans in precarious economic circumstances with limited access to services.

Refugees in the Americas

Increasing violence and conflict contributed to a rise in refugees from Colombia in the region, which coupled with protracted situations to create a large population of people seeking the assistance of UNHCR. At the end of 2016, UNHCR estimated that there are 7.7 million internally displaced persons in Colombia, many of whom eventually flee to Ecuador and other neighboring countries.5 Trickle Up works with UNHCR in both Ecuador and Costa Rica to reach refugees and other displaced populations.

Where we work

Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Costa Rica


Americas Statistics:

  • 34 million people live in extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean6
  • 59.3% of people live below the national poverty line in Guatemala7
  • In Nicaragua, the richest 20% of the population own over half of the country’s wealth while the poorest 20% own just 4.9% of the wealth8
  • Only 35% of women over the age of 15 in Latin America have an account at a formal financial institution9
  • In Guatemala, Mexico, and Paraguay, women make up only around 38% of the labor force and only around half of women participate in the labor force10
  • Indigenous peoples make up only 8% of the population in Latin America, but they represent approximately 14% of the poor and 17% of the extremely poor in the region11
  • In 2010, 5.1% of the population of Mexico,12 12-14% of Guatemala,13 and 10.3% of Nicaragua14 identified as people with disabilities
  • 12% of the world’s displaced people are in the Americas15

Trickle Up’s Impact

of participant families in Ecuador report eating 2-3 meals a day, compared to 17% at baseline 8 months prior.
profitability rate over shares' original value in a Guatemalan savings group. Each member had $1,055 in savings.
of households in Guatemala have increased the value of their seed capital by 10%.
of participants in Guatemala have taken a loan from their group to invest in their productive activities.

Trickle Up’s History in the Americas

In the Americas, a region marked by deep inequality and exclusion, Trickle Up has 30 years of experience empowering the extreme poor to become full participants in the social and economic lives of their communities. Trickle Up has worked in the Americas since 1979. Our current regional office in Cobán, Guatemala was established in 2008 to support our work in Central America. Since then, in partnership with 20 NGOs, we have worked with over 7,500 households in Guatemala and Nicaragua, focusing on women, people with disabilities, and members of indigenous communities. In 2015, we began working with local NGO Ko'ox Taani in Mexico, and in 2016, we began working in Paraguay with the Ministry of Planning.


With UNHCR, we have served refugees in the Americas since 2014 in Costa Rica and Ecuador, with more countries to follow as we launch additional pilot projects in the region.