In the Netherlands there are about 15.000 what we call ‘Private Initiatives’. People who, in most cases, have travelled to or did volunteer work in development countries and who started an NGO (Non-governmental organization) when they came back from their trip. The reason for doing this was that they saw with their own eyes that with small solutions often great things were possible. At the same time friends, family, neighbours and colleagues were willing to give a donations to the projects they started together with their partners in Africa, Asia or Latin America.
Me, myself; (Hi, my name is Margreet van der Pijl and I am the project manager at the 1%CLUB) I was also involved in a private initiative in Ghana. A couple of years ago we were extremely enthusiastic about the project we were planning to implement. We were building a factory where the local inhabitants of the village in which we were working could process cassava into “Gari” a local product used in many different dishes. We gathered money, hired a local contractor and started the project. After a couple of months the building was finished and the factory was ready to be used. In the beginning many cassavas were processed and many bags of Gari produced. But after a while the problem of distribution occurred: there was no system of profit sharing. As a result of this the farmers who were donating their cassava stopped doing this and the factory closed on a temporary notice.
Obviously we forgot to contribute to what is called “knowledge building of the local community”, a common point of critique towards “Private Initiatives” . The project collapsed as a result of this mistake as soon as we left the project location. The lack of local knowledge building and many other points of critique are mentioned in several research reports (Schulpen (2007), Kinsbergen(2010)). Issues on sustainability, a good project team and effectiveness are crucial for the success of a project. Organizing a project which include all these factors and which was thought through from different perspectives is what we understand as a project with high quality.
Who are we alone (as ‘experts’) to judge what the quality of a project is? Many people together know more than one (collective intelligence). That is why we invite the whole world to watch with us and together help innovative ideas to become successful. Welcome to the 1%CROWD.
In the next blogs I will share more with you on the subject of small-scale projects, quality standards and improvement of long-term results of these projects.
Picture by: Bernard Uyttendaele