Friday, August 13, 2010

A winning situation for all

After retuning from Uganda and spending time with Aaron, the benefits of MicroGrants to everyone involved has become ever clearer to me.

1. Communities benefit: The focus of MicroGrants is of course on the pressing needs of communities who lack basic resources and security. It promotes an increase in a human security such as health care, access to clean water and food security. This is dependent on what problem the community chooses to tackle. The community also gains the experience of organizing and thinking in a community oriented and problem solving fashion. It has the potential to empower communities through providing an opportunity structure for them to organize and solve a local problem. This orients away from the handout model, which can have such devastating effects of reliance and inaction at the individual and community level. It also deviates from typical models of community engagement that “engage” communities, such as partnering or taking advise from community members for programs. The benefits of a MicroGrant competition at the community level are abundant.

2. Facilitators benefit: MicroGrant facilitators can have a range of backgrounds but must be invested in helping under-resourced communities. There are many dedicated community activists who want to help people yet they often lack the resources or structure to do so. MicroGrants provides an opportunity for them to carry out an entire competition, organizing community members, learning about their ideas, helping them write grant proposals and seeing through a completed community project – without having to worry about the funding.

3. Donors and organizers benefit: In a field where problems are endless and appropriate solutions are not so clear MicroGrants provides a fabulous opportunity to improve everyone’s spirits and see clear benefits in individuals and communities. Each grant competition touches dozens of community members and new ones each time. The competition and implementation time often take under a year for completion and the administration of it is simple. This quick completion of a small project makes the work tangible and the effects clear. It also makes it easy to see where money is going and where the benefits are, which can all too often be lost in a sea of development cynicism.

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