By Jada Haynes

Poverty Stoplight, a tool developed by Martin Burt’s Fundación Paraguaya, is a survey app improving the lives of impoverished people around the world by helping them plan their way out of poverty.

The tool consists of a 20-minute visual survey that can be taken either on paper or on Android devices. For each indicator of poverty, there is a corresponding stoplight color: red for Very Poor, yellow for Poor, and green for Not Poor. A trained facilitator is present and helps the family assess their situation. Their results come in the form of a “referral pathway.” From there, they can determine the best routes out of poverty with the help of organizations and businesses specializing in each dimension of poverty.

Additionally, Poverty Stoplight works to include women in the equation. If a family is having trouble making ends meet financially, the tool matches willing households with micro-franchises. Designed with women in mind, they include “jewelry-making, selling non-prescription eyewear and door-to-door cleaning services.”


But the burden does not have to rest solely on the family’s shoulders.


As mentioned earlier, businesses (1,516 of them, to be exact) can step in to sponsor an impoverished household. They know who to help by using another feature of the Poverty Stoplight: its map of aggregated data. The tool’s results are represented in a way that makes it easy for agencies to see where to focus their resources. If an area has almost no access to electricity, electricity providers could see that and devise an action plan.

The Paraguayan government has embraced Poverty Stoplight’s methodology, melding the map into its Public-Private Partnership Action Plan to Eliminate Extreme Poverty by 2018. To achieve this goal, the policy makers have set aside $2.4 billion dollars to fund 30 various agencies.

However large the investments are, they are not made in blind faith. Poverty Stoplight has proven effective many times over. During its first three years, it put forth $500,000 dollars donated from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and “leveraged another $1 million from other donors and a parallel microlending program.” This enhanced the lives of 18,000 families, which totaled approximately 92,000 people.

Poverty Stoplight currently enjoys a sizable success rate and integration into the Paraguayan government. Additionally, the approach has even been used in 18 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa to alleviate poverty. All of these factors combined bring hope and opportunities to the communities it serves.