UPLift--Poverty Alleviation For The Ultra-Poor

UPLift is a program designed to empower communities on the Thai/Burmese border that lack food security, opportunities for income, and education. Through the use of small grants and skills trainings, these families receive the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty without having to rely on external aid indefinitely.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Financial Literacy Training January 2014

Financial literacy training participants make a wish while sending off khom loys  (lanterns).

As promised in our last post, we have many pictures and updates from our 2014 Financial Literacy Training with 24 Wide Horizon's Students & an additional 47 women  and 1 man from the factory community called Paseidan where we completed urban gardening. Between both Wide Horizons and community women, our team has now trained 72 people on Financial Literacy in the last 3 weeks. 
(FYI: Wide Horizons (WH) = The local community development vocational school we work with:  https://www.facebook.com/widehorizonsmaesot?ref=ts&fref=ts)

Some may recall this is our third year to deliver financial literacy trainings.  This project originally stemmed from our 2011 UPLift Initiative project funded by Project Inspire after winning the the runner-up prize of 10,000USD to launch the project.  See a post from the financial literacy training's inception here. 

Current Training
The training requires at least 5 half days of participants time. 

Day1 Full Market Session: The market session is set up to simulate spending in real life.  The session is run in such a way that reflects how Migrants spend money and make use of time. For the next 4 days, participants complete 1 market session at the end of training topics. Participants are each given 5 tokens and 1 unit of food meant to represent real money, then given the following information:
  1. Each day the market session is set up according to times of day: morning, afternoon & evening.  
  2. For morning, afternoon & evening, time will be broken down to 30 second intervals, 5 intervals for each time of day ( So, 15 thirty-second intervals in total, about 7 minutes).
  3. Participants must spend tokens on housing rental, food, and transportation (walk, bicycle, or motorbike). This is required. If, for instance, a person decides not to skip a meal/not spend money on food, they will earn less from working because of their weakened condition.  
  4. Everyone has a chance to earn money by choosing to work at the factory or finding day labor--they can earn up to 2 tokens for 1 time period of work. 
  5. Time can only be used doing 1 thing at a time--working, preparing meals, eating 3 meals/day, sleeping, & choosing transportation all affect how time is spent. 
  6. With their tokens, participants must rent housing (non-optional), decide on transportation: walk (takes more time), bike (less time, more money), or motorbike (no time, more money) and purchase food.  
  7. Each participant chooses when and how they spend their time/money.  After necessities are covered, they have a chance to purchase real 'luxury' items from our marketplace--such as snacks, tupperware, additional cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, flashlights, tools, etc. and keep for themselves.
Along with completing market sessions at the end of theory training, we use many different creative mediums to achieve various objectives for days 2-5.  These mediums consist of learning games, role play, real-life scenario analysis, acting, group activities, presentation using flip chart & participant presentations. 

Day 2 Goals & Money Beliefs: By the end of day 2, participants will be able to... 

  • Define and give examples of short, medium and long term goals.
  • Have identified one short term & one medium term financial goal.
  • Identified community beliefs that prevent them from achieving their goals.
  • Create a weekly and monthly budget for their household. 
Day 3 Define Savings & Making a Savings Plan: By the end of day 3, women will...

  • Define household income and expenses.
  • Define savings and its different uses.
    Make a realistic personal savings plan. 

Day 4 Household Budgeting: By the end of day 4, participants will be able to...
  • Describe several reasons for keeping a budget plan, and what can happen when there is no personal budget.
  • Describe the 5 steps for creating a budget plan
  • Create a daily budget plan for the Market Session

Day 5 Time Management/Time as a Value:  By the end of day 5, participants will...
  • Make a daily activity schedule and seasonal calendar to identify free time and plan for possible free time in the future.

In addition to financial literacy training, Wide Horizon students are given 2 full days of "Training the Trainer" presentation in order to fully prepare them to be trainers in the community.

Khom Loy's Ko Lynn presents to WH students about financial literacy.
A WH student presents on household budgeting with Ko Lynn.
WH students listen for market session instructions.

WH students purchase food and transportation during their market session.

Heidi delivering training of the trainer materials to WH students. 

WH student present on time management at Paseidan.

A WH student presents on budgeting.

Participants are provided note-taking materials.

One participant presents a savings plan.

Women choose working options during the market session.


We have used this training in the past as a launching pad to setup small enterprise income generation and community savings groups with varying degrees of success.  Given lessons learned, we will try it again more assertively this year. Each participant was given 3 weeks to think of ways they can make & save more money. Whether is be combining supplemental incomes to create a savings group, selling  vegetables, setting up a small tea shop, selling sticky rice treats using a motorcycle cart, making handicrafts, etc.  It's completely up to them.  After 3 weeks, Team UPlift will return to begin "phase 2" of the financial literacy training: small business & further savings planning.

Along the lines of continuing to empower woman, we will support 5 community women who already completed garden trainings to deliver the same training to an additional 10-20 women who are still interested in household gardening.  Since they have been through several trainings with Khom Loy and Wide Horizons already, many women have emerged with natural leadership abilities.