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NGOs and how they relate to projects.

Posted by Alexander Martin Jan 3, 2017

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton, 1676
(though earliest records attribute the concept to Bernard de Chartres).

Given the necessity for social enterprise as the future of impact when it comes to international development, I think it is important to clarify what this means for NGOs, and our interactions with them.

To be clear, Project Everest does not exist because no good work has been done in this space; rather, it exists because there was no way to guarantee good work would continue to be forthcoming. Sustainability, scale, and interest vs. impact are three of the weaknesses inherent to charity that we cover in our core story, so it is not surprising that people sometimes come away with the view "social enterprise good, charity bad".

A more accurate appraisal would be "charity good, social enterprise better in the long run".

Charities such as Red Cross do incredible work, and are responsible for a significant amount of impact. There is no nobility or moral superiority gained by refusing to acknowledge this simply because they went about it in an unsustainable manner.

As such, the most efficient way for projects to operate is to use NGOs wherever possible to dodge major road blocks. They have all laid incredible ground work with communities, have extensive databanks of test results, and some will have contact lists bigger than all our handovers combined. Part of the problem we are trying to solve is that much of their collective impact has been knee-capped, because they have all individually started from scratch. 

There is no need for Project Everest to fall into this same trap.

Two short examples to substantiate the above, both taken from December's Water Assessment:

  • Water Test Results: the team was able to source significant water quality results despite lacking a lab, test kits, or sufficient chemical knowledge. Simply because they called some NGOs and asked.
  • Community Entry: the team spent 3 weeks trying to arrange rural visits to no avail. Their breakthrough came when an NGO offered to facilitate a community meeting, providing free translation and unfettered access to an enormous commune.

Ultimately, we should be building on the work of these NGOs and translating it into sustainable solutions. The NGOs are the metaphorical giants, though there is nothing metaphorical about the size of their giant budgets.

Stand on their shoulders, or risk being forever overshadowed.

- Alex Martin

 

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This post was edited on Jan 5, 2017 by (Account removed)

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Comments (10)

William Ashford says... Jan 3, 2017

"Stand on their shoulders, or risk being forever overshadowed."

Alexander Martin says... Jan 3, 2017

I d-d-drop the mic.

Alexander Martin says... Jan 3, 2017

"Blaze in the playground" - excerpt from the forthcoming album WickedSkengineerMan 4 by Will Ashford

William Ashford says... Jan 3, 2017

Flow so laminar his Reynold's number is 1. 

Kai Faulkner says... Jan 3, 2017

This seems like some serious trolling for points...

William Ashford says... Jan 3, 2017

They're all points for Alex. 

William Ashford says... Jan 3, 2017

That comment was 100% made for points

William Ashford says... Jan 3, 2017
This comment has been removed
Kate O'Donnell says... Sep 11, 2017

Fantastic. I am trekking in Malawi in Feb, so I am yet to see this in action, but I agree in that it should not be an 'us and them' mentality in relation to NGO's and social enterprise; both have their place and they should build on one another. Very well said. 

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