BECAUSE TRICKLE UP ACTUALLY WORKS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut From our archives… At a time when they might be enjoying a comfortable retirement, Glen and Mildred Leet are, instead, working more than full-time running "Trickle Up," a venture sometimes described as a mom-and-pop foreign aid program. They make what might seem to Americans tiny grants to desperately poor people in the Third World. The typical grant is $100, paid in two installments of $50 each. "There are many people for whom $50 is a fortune," says Mildred. "They can start a small business right in their community." The Leets knew such grants were needed; they'd seen that the usual grants don't work; Glen Leet served as community development director with the United Nations for 36 years. "We observed the results of programs that are supposed to 'trickle down'," he says. "The idea is that if massive aid is poured in from the top, it will trickle down and benefit the poor. Unfortunately, very little of it does. Therefore, Trickle Up funds go directly to the unemployed people at the grassroots." Between 1979, when the Leets started the program, and 1987 when they were commended as Giraffe Heroes, more than 4,000 entrepreneurs in 90 developing nations had received the $100 grants; about 80% of the grantees are women. From their New York apartment, the Leets oversee the hundreds of volunteers who act as "field coordinators," most of them United Nations or Peace Corps employees. These coordinators help recruit candidates and can give them $50 grants the moment the papers are filled out. They also monitor each grantee's progress. Typical Trickle Up grantees: six women in Ecuador who banded together to raise and sell guinea pigs, and a group of impoverished women who have opened a bakery on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. In India, fish sellers, handloom weavers, a team of septic tank cleaners, and a laundryman who needed to buy an iron, have all been given the start they needed. Trickle Up doesn't do formal fundraising—people just hear about the program and donate, because they see it works. Update: Glen Leet died in 1998, Mildred Leet in 2011. Their good work goes on at Trickle Up. Thank you for liking the Leets. Now please like this whole page, Giraffe Heroes, so you can see more inspiring stories. And Share them with Friends, OK?