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PARTNERSHIP CAPACITY BUILDING FOR ECONOMIC STRENGHTENING IN HIV AND AIDS IMPACTED COMMUNITIES: TWO CASES FROM RWANDA
Authors Elly Kaganzi, Economic Opportunities Advisor, CHF Rwanda Anathalie Mukankusi, Catholic Relief Services Rwanda Facilitators Linda Jones for The SEEP Network Laura Meissner, The SEEP Network
Abstract NGOs working in microfinance or enterprise development typically work with and through partners, either by choice or necessity. This is common with organizations serving HIV and AIDS-affected clients and communities with economic strengthening programs, particularly those attempting to deliver or provide access to holistic services and integrated programming. Often larger organizations will engage in capacity building of local partners to implement economic programs. Effective capacity building is critical for successful services delivery, but organizations may be challenged to determine the rationale, methods, outcomes and sustainability of capacity building. This technical note shares experiences and lessons learned around capacity building of local partners. The case studies examined, CHF International and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), are both international NGOs operating in Rwanda and participant in the SEEP Network Practitioner Learning Program (PLP) on Building Alliances to Serve HIV and AIDS Impacted Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa (BASICS). About The SEEP Network The SEEP Network, founded in 1985 and headquartered in Washington, DC, is an association of over 70 international NGOs that support micro and small enterprise development programs around the world. SEEP’s mission is to connect microenterprise practitioners in a global learning community. As such, SEEP brings members and other practitioners together in a peer learning environment to produce practical, innovative solutions to key challenges in the industry. SEEP then disseminates these solutions through training, publications, professional development, and technical assistance. About the Practitioner Learning Program The Practitioner Learning Program (PLP) methodology was developed by SEEP as a way to engage microenterprise practitioners in a collaborative learning process to document and share findings and to identify effective and replicable practices and innovations to benefit the industry as a whole. The PLP combines a small-grant program with an intensive small-group facilitatedlearning process, usually over a period of one or more years. Practitioner Learning Programs focus on learning at three levels: the individual organization, the PLP group, and the industry at large. At the individual level, organizations have the opportunity to share with other organizations and to revise their individual work plans. At the group level, all participants involved in the PLP share experiences and ideas. Participants come to consensus on common themes they want to explore as a group, called the learning agenda. At the industry level, the PLP participants produce learning products documenting their lessons learned, challenges, and promising practices, to benefit the microenterprise and microfinance industry.
The objectives of the BASICS PLP are to empower microenterprise development (MED) practitioners through peer learning to build and strengthen strategic alliances with communityfocused organizations, and to document and disseminate the most effective models for developing these alliances for maximizing impact. Intended Audience This technical note is intended mainly for large NGOs, private consulting firms or government programs with technical competencies in microfinance or enterprise development that are partnering (or considering partnering) with organizations at the community level to better serve their clients. The BASICS PLP concentrates on partnerships that improve services to HIV and AIDS-affected communities; some of the lessons here are specific to serving that population. Local organizations that are partnering with larger firms may also find this technical note helpful, as it can help them determine their own capacity building needs, and decide whether or not they can reasonably expect the needed support from their lead partner. Donors funding economic programming and partnerships may also find this note of interest, to help them consider the resources necessary for a lead grantee to build local partners’ capacities. Background on Rwanda1 Rwanda is among the least developed countries in the world, ranking 161st out of 177 countries.2 It is the most densely populated country in Africa, with approximately 310 inhabitants per square kilometer3, a total population of 9 million people, and an average annual population growth rate of 2.4%.4 The population of Rwanda is overwhelmingly rural, with 90% of the country depending on agriculture. Chronic and acute food insecurity is most prevalent among the most vulnerable groups of society—orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), the chronically ill, and people living with HIV. As of 2005, Rwanda had a 3.1% adult HIV prevalence rate (3.6% women and 2.3% men)5. UNAIDS in 2006 reported 190,000 people living with HIV and 210,000 AIDS orphans.6 Since the genocide in 1994, the Government of Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious program of national unity and reconciliation. It has also established a national council on fighting genocide, as well as Gacaca (traditional-style community courts) for trying genocide perpetrators. Fifteen years later, Rwandans still suffer from deep wounds, expressed as largely silent but profound distrust. Although most Rwandans feel that the government has restored order and public safety, community trust is extremely low. This impedes development programming and improvements in social assets, putting vulnerable people further at risk.
This section has been adapted in its entirety from CRS Microfinance application to Step UP Fund. United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Human Development Index (HDI). 2005. 3 WFP country briefing, 2008 http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=646 4 UNAIDS 2006 Report. Rwanda Country Situation Analysis. http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/rwanda.asp 5 Population Reference Bureau. Rwanda 2005 Demographic and Health Survey. http://www.prb.org/Articles/2006/RwandaDHS2005.aspx 6 UNAIDS 2006 Report. Rwanda Country Situation Analysis. http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Countries/rwanda.asp
Background on PEPFAR HIV and AIDS has been one of the leading global challenges of this century. The effects of this devastating disease have been mostly felt by the poor, and have resulted in increased poverty in the world’s poorest countries. In 2004, then-US President George W. Bush launched the President’s Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), initially targeting 15 countries that were hardest hit. The aim of PEPFAR is to develop programming that mitigates the impacts of HIV & AIDS through care and treatment for infected people while also providing broader care to affected groups, such as orphans and vulnerable children. PEPFAR was reauthorized in 2008 with a commitment of up to $48 billion through 2013. Both CHF International and CRS’s programs described here are funded through PEPFAR. Introduction to the Case Studies The two case studies have been chosen because of their relative similarity. Both CHF and CRS are large, international NGOs in Rwanda, providing institutional and programmatic capacity building to local partner organizations in order to provide economic strengthening services to clients affected by HIV and AIDS. Both are also engaged in ‘asymmetric’ or one-way capacity building, and both are working with local partners, some of whom did not previously have a core strength in economic programming.
CHF, the CHAMP Program, and AEE CHF International is the lead organization in managing the Community HIV and AIDS Mobilization Program (CHAMP) program in Rwanda. CHAMP, a four-year program, delivers community-based health interventions for people affected by HIV/AIDS in 20 districts in Rwanda, working through the country’s grassroots organizations. Overall, CHAMP supports more than 23,000 OVCs.7 CHAMP recently added an economics opportunities initiative, which is the focus area of CHF’s work under the SEEP PLP. In 2007 and 2008, CHF realigned its program to become more market-driven, focusing on facilitating access to markets, business services and finance to cooperatives of persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). CHF works with and through 12 Rwandan partner organizations, typically health-focused or faith-based. African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE) is one of CHF’s most successful Rwandan partner organizations. AEE started working in Rwanda in 1984. It is registered as a non-profit organization, and its vision is “evangelizing African cities through word and deed in partnership with churches.” AEE is part of a larger regional body called African Enterprise, active in 10 African countries. In Rwanda, AEE works in several programmatic areas. AEE works with the greatest number of cooperatives of all of CHF’s partners, and has been active in requesting technical support from CHF when needed.
CRS and Caritas Since 2005, CRS Rwanda has responded to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) through programming funded by PEPFAR and private donors. The OVC program provides a package of services, including school materials, school fees for child-headed households, health
Source: Jan-Mar 2009 CHAMP newsletter, http://www.chfinternational.org/files/Q2%20COP08%20CHAMP%20Newsletter.pdf .
insurance, nutrition education, and psychosocial support. CRS has carried out its work with OVC through local church partners, primarily-diocesan level Caritas groups. Caritas is the outreach arm of the Catholic Church and in Rwanda is a registered NGO. Caritas-Rwanda’s primary goal is “to empower society’s most disadvantaged groups and restore the human dignity of man that has been threatened by social marginalization, ethnic divisions and injustice.”8 Its three areas of focus are development, social work, and health. Caritas operates within the Catholic Church’s structure and is CRS’s primary partner around the world. CRS and Caritas have been able to meet some of the psychological and economic needs of OVC and their households, but a tremendous need remains. CRS Rwanda therefore launched its Lifeline Project, which introduced the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) methodology to help OVC households build financial assets. CRS has had extensive experience in implementing SILC activities worldwide, and has been successful in reaching very poor populations with SILC. To date CRS has reached 24,279 SILC clients in Rwanda since 2007.
Case Study: Capacity Building between CHF and Rwandan Partners
CHF decided that despite a lack of economic development experience, their local partner organizations under CHAMP were the best candidates to provide market facilitation and business services to PLWHA cooperatives. This required both intensive training on the skills and methodologies used in supporting the cooperatives as well as support on HR and institutional issues. The results have been varied, and CHF is seeking to ensure that the partners’ increased capacity remains after CHAMP ends. Capacity Building Need Identification CHF’s process of determining the need for, and content of, capacity building followed the steps below. These are described in more detail:
Identify unmet program need
Assess possible partners
Assess partner capacity
Identify capacity building needs
1) Identify unmet program need: CHF needed to provide linkages to market facilitation
and business service providers to their client cooperatives. However, it would not be sustainable for CHF to provide this directly, and it was not immediately clear who else could deliver these services. CHF mapped existing business service providers, but found that they were largely focused in urban areas, and did not see the business value of extending their operations into rural locations where CHF’s clients were.
Caritas Rwanda MCP Technical Application, RFA #USAID M/OAA/GH-07-858
2) Assess possible partners: CHF considered other alternatives before deciding to work
with their current partners. They held discussions with a number of private service providers, including an association, but these did not yield the collaboration that CHF was looking for. CHF also considered finding other NGOs in Rwanda with whom they had not yet partnered, but were unable to identify any with existing expertise in BDS provision.
3) Assess Rwandan partners’ current capacity as service providers: The assessment of
Rwandan partners’ capacity involved a review of their institutional approach to economic development, as well as a review of existing personnel and assessing their ability to provide BDS to the cooperatives. CHF realized that though most of the partners were interested in and economic development, they lacked staff with the necessary business skills. Nevertheless, given the partners’ existing relationship with CHF, their proven ability to reach out to cooperatives, and the lack of other firms with the necessary capacity, CHF determined that it would be most cost-effective to build up the partners’ capacity to deliver BDS services.
4) Identify partners’ capacity building needs:
CHF developed a capacity building asssessment tool, with seven different sections and a composite scoring index, to help identify partners’ presing needs and understand their perspectives. CHF saw the need for capacity building on two main levels: program methodologies and institutional/human resource development. The partner organizations were willing to do this new programming, but clearly would need to hire staff with the right background even before the technical training would be helpful, and would need stronger institutional procedures to support these new programs.
5) Plan for capacity building themes and activities based on assessment: After the
completion of the capacity building assessment, each partner immediately developed an individual capacity building plan with CHF’s assistance. This included both the topics on which to focus as well as a work plan for engaging in those trainings and technical assistance activities. Capacity Building Activities and Topics CHF engaged in the following activities with their partner organizations: Technical Training • Developed an interactive, participatory TOT curriculum in Cooperative Development for cooperative support officers to learn and roll out to the cooperatives. The curriculum has also been translated into the local language for better comprehension.
Linked cooperative support officers to other service providers, such as agricultural extension agents. Provided regular oversight in the form of field visits to each of the cooperative support officers, to ensure they are effectively delivering support to the cooperatives. Facilitated exchange visits for the newly recruited officers to visit successful cooperatives, both in and outside Rwanda.
Provided training to cooperative support officers in market literacy, identifying opportunities and making market linkages, financial management of cooperatives, and savings methodologies. CHF is also considering providing community facilitation and loan facilitation training. Organized regular monthly meetings for cooperative support officers to share their experiences, and review one another’s approaches and challenges, providing effective peer mentoring.
Institutional and Management Support
Provided training or technical assistance on organizational governance, strategic planning, financial management, human resources management, and personnel policies and procedures. Provided project management training, including project design and fundraising, facilitation techniques, knowledge management, and information sharing Made quarterly capacity-building site visits, set up partner review meetings, and provided one-on-one support as needed. Assisted in developing action plans and budgets for economic opportunity activities, and reviewed and provided feedback on the plans. Assisted in developing job descriptions and profiles for cooperative support officers, and participated in the interviewing and recruitment of these officers. Conducted annual Capacity Building Assessments for each partner to compare year-overyear progress within organizations
• • • •
Challenges and Results of Capacity Building CHF’s local partners had limited experience in microenterprise development and other economic development before working with CHF. Most of them were faith-based organizations focused on more basic aid provision. This brought considerable challenges highlighting awareness around economic opportunities programming and its specialized nature. Several partners were initially reluctant to hire new staff with economic and business skills. For example, they assumed that their accountant could do economic development work, or wanted to use existing staff with expertise in other, unrelated areas. Some partners even opted not to begin economic opportunities programming, because business activities did not fall into their organizational mandates. CHF supported these partners’ decisions not to enter into activities that did not align with their missions. Most of CHF’s partners were also more comfortable with a more traditional, grant-giving model of aid and development. Many of them had difficulty with the new way of promoting economic development through facilitation and access to markets, and perhaps were a bit skeptical that market-focused economic development actually works.
CHF learned that they would need to spend time working with partner organizations to make them aware of the market-led model for economic development, and the importance of having economic development expertise on staff to effectively do economic programming. CHF’s partners also experienced varying levels of program success, depending on the economic opportunities specialists they recruited and hired. Those staff members who have shown more desire and enthusiasm have been more willing to try new activities, and to reach out to CHF for support and feedback, leading to a ‘virtuous cycle’ of stronger programming. Other organizations that remained unconvinced about market-led strategies, or that did not hire staff with business expertise, are struggling more. Sustainability of Capacity Building Outcomes CHF’s capacity building strategy is built with sustainability in mind – enabling AEE and other local partners to continue to deliver services efficiently to target groups beyond the current life of the CHAMP program. CHF considers ‘graduation’ of partner organizations to be indicated by, for example, a successful capacity building assessment, achievement of the partner’s stated capacity building objectives, achievement of project targets, and sound financial management. Sustainability can be analyzed at the programmatic and the institutional level: Sustainability of the Rwandan partner organizations’ program competencies: As the program is still ongoing, the partners’ ability to deliver services beyond the end of the CHAMP program is yet to be seen. CHF is currently focusing on ensuring that the cooperative support officers’ skills are shared throughout the partner organizations, so as to build institutional memory and capacity. For example, CHF mandated that additional partner staff members accompanied the cooperative support officers on exchange visits, helping program managers and strategic directors learn new ways of doing their programs. CHF’s partners also send program managers to the cooperative support officers’ trainings, demonstrating their institutional commitment to the economic opportunities programming. Institutional and financial sustainability of the partner organizations: Given the context of the target clients and their limited ability to pay for business services, partner organizations need to consider alternative ways to continue their revenue stream. To this end, CHF has provided trainings and facilitation on strategic planning processes to RPOs to boost their long term planning capacity and sustainability. Additionally, CHF has built partner capacity in proposal writing and financial management, helping them to attract donor funding. For instance, AEE has successfully applied for US Peace Corps volunteers to support AEE’s work; as a result three volunteers will support AEE for the next two years. AEE has also applied for two USAID grants (under consideration at the time of writing).
Case Study: Capacity Building between CRS and Caritas
Caritas is CRS’ implementing partner of choice around the world, for a wide range of programming. The Lifeline Project described here promotes economic strengthening using a CRS savings group methodology known as SILC (Savings and Internal Lending Communities). In order to be successful, CRS had to develop the capacity of Caritas to launch and support SILC groups.
Initially, the Lifeline Project was funded for one year. By June of 2008, the project had incorporated over 10,000 households into more than 400 SILC groups. Based on this success, a second year of funding was granted. This means that the capacity building approach has had a chance to evolve, building on the experiences in the first phase. The process described below incorporates this evolution. Capacity Building Need Identification CRS’s process of determining the need for, and content of, capacity building followed the steps below. These are described in more detail:
Orient partner on program
Assess partner CB needs Provide reportin g feedbac k
Perform periodic evaluatio ns
1) Orient partner staff on program focus: At the beginning of the Lifeline project, as with any project, CRS trained Caritas and new staff, and held a general orientation about SILC, as well as a more specific orientation to the objectives and expected results of the project. 2) Assess the partners’ needs of capacity building: CRS holds quarterly meetings with Caritas and other implementing partners. At these meetings, the partners let CRS know what capacity building needs they have, establishes a capacity-building plan, and determines who is in charge of each of the activities in the plan. 3) Periodic activity evaluations: CRS periodically evaluates the project with CRS, using the evaluations as an opportunity to improve the project where possible and as another opportunity for capacity building with Caritas. CRS collaborates with Caritas on developing evaluation questions, determining sampling, collecting data, and reviewing the draft evaluation report, helping Caritas to improve its own skills in this area. 4) Feedback on reports: Caritas submits regular reports to CRS on project implementation, and in return CRS provides Caritas with specific feedback. The SILC program has a special system called the “SILC Brownie Point System,” gives Caritas staff feedback about the quality of data in the report and their actual outreach compared with targets. CRS uses this information to add suggestions for improvement and a corresponding capacity building plan where needed.
Capacity Building Activities and Topics CRS conducts a range of capacity building activities with Caritas, including direct training, mentoring, and experiential learning. The training content includes management issues, the role of field agents and supervisors, and specific technical content on SILC. The capacity building activities are matched with the information and experience that CRS is looking to transfer. This capacity building included the following activities: Technical Training: • Provided an introductory training and technical assistance to Caritas staff to orient them to the methodology and offer ongoing support as SILC groups were launched. This includes training of trainers, so that Caritas staff can train communities on SILC.
Provided technical training on the SILC approach, including detailed information on group size, formation and activities, as well as training on awareness-raising and the importance of saving and lending. Organized learning tours between Caritas staff and SILC groups of different parishes, so that newer groups could benefit from the experience of more mature groups. Discussions at these visits focused on topics such as how to increase periodic savings, diversifying income-generating activities, and improving internal rules and regulations. Made site visits by the CRS Economic Strengthening Officer to Caritas coordinators and field agents at least once a month, in order to provide technical assistance to SILC groups and Caritas as needed. Helped Caritas staff form their own SILC groups, so that they could ‘learn by doing’ the finer points of the SILC methodology. The diocese-wide SILC coordinator observes the field agents’ own SILC group and offers assistance as needed. Helped Caritas develop a list of qualifications and job descriptions for SILC staff (including supervisors and field agents), explained the need for paid field agents (most Caritas staff are volunteers), and helped with the recruitment and selection process, including developing the interview format and a written test for candidates. Provided regular, direct technical assistance in the form of visits from CRS’ finance, human resources and IT teams to Caritas. Helped Caritas identify additional volunteer parish animators, recruiting them through already exciting SILC groups so that they already had some knowledge of SILC. Held quarterly meetings between CRS and all Caritas diocesan supervisors to promote mutual learning and exchange experiences, and to conduct joint planning for the next quarter.
Institutional and Management Support
Challenges and Results of Capacity Building In October 2008, CRS conducted an evaluation of the Lifeline project. The evaluation demonstrated that eight CRS partners had improved their capacity in implementing economic programming, including SILC. CRS’ managerial support to Caritas and other local partners also seems to have paid off; 80% of partners were providing quality, regular reporting to CRS.
Like CHF, however, CRS has experienced difficulties in helping Caritas find the right staff to implement the project. Some Caritas dioceses still do not understand the correct selection criteria for a SILC field agent, or use existing staff – that are already overburdened with other tasks – as SILC field agents. Even some staff who are supposed to focus full-time on SILC can only spend ten to fifteen percent of their time on SILC activities. Before the Lifeline project began, certain partners had resisted the SILC approach, believing that without external financing, the beneficiaries would not be able to improve their own financial standing. However, after the program began and the beneficiaries regularly reported and gave testimonies about the success of SILC, these partners began to value the methodology and to see its suitability to serving very poor clients. This has led to a stronger willingness to dedicate time and effort to the Lifeline project and other SILC programming. Sustainability of Capacity Building Outcomes Sustainability of Caritas’ provision of SILC programming: Now that Caritas staff have seen firsthand the success of the SILC model, they are likely to keep it as part of their social and economic outreach to their communities. Caritas has incorporated it into their existing community activities and has involved existing Caritas volunteers, making SILC something that Caritas does as part of its regular work, not just a one-time funded project. However, the plan is for the SILC groups to eventually engage Caritas field agents themselves, rather than the process being driven by CRS. CRS has yet to see if the Caritas field agents’ training (four courses over the first two years, followed by certification) will be sufficient to motivate SILC field agents to continue their work. Additionally, the future funding status and the priority of SILC compared to other CRS-Caritas joint activities is still being determined. CRS also realizes that its capacity-building budget is limited, and hopes that the SILC methodology, which makes for easy replication of groups in the community, will allow CRS to concentrate its capacity-building resources only where needed. Self-replication has already begun in some dioceses, which is encouraging. Institutional and financial sustainability of Caritas: Because Caritas is a church organization, it does not need to be financially sustainable, and because CRS and Caritas have a long-term partnership, CRS’ exit is not expected. However, [CRS, we need more here – have Caritas’ HR, IT, financial skills been strengthened permanently?]
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
CHF International and CRS, working in the same context and implementing similar programming, identify common themes and challenges and offer lessons learned and recommendations. Mission (mis)match: Even before lead partners attempt to transfer technical knowledge, they may need to spend a considerable amount of time in changing partners’ mindsets about economic programming. Many organizations serving clients affected by HIV and AIDS may have a holistic, charitable or health-based outlook, and may find market-oriented economic programs
particularly difficult to accept. This can be mitigated with economic programs that have a clear link to partner organizations’ values. The SILC methodology, for example, has a strong community-empowerment component, which may have made it easier for Caritas to adopt once they moved past an initial impulse to hand out funds. Where partner organizations are not committed to the program’s mission, or to the economic program methodologies, it may not be worth the effort to convince them otherwise. CHF, for example, has another CHAMP partner that only does programs for orphans and vulnerable children. They told CHF from the start that they were not interested in helping cooperatives to access market opportunities, since cooperatives were not one of their target populations. CHF understood, and they continued their relationship only focusing on areas of mutual interest. With other partner organizations, CHF invested time and resources on training and technical assistance, but a persistent mismatch between partner interests and CHF’s desires eventually led to CHF’s terminating the relationship. Working with organizations new to economic programming: Both CRS and CHF are working with faith-based grassroots organizations that are highly capable in outreach to the target community, but with less expertise in economic development programming. This created challenges for both organizations. ‘Soft’ skills such as community interaction and interpersonal skills were a particular challenge for CHF’s partner organizations and difficult for CHF to transfer. CHF also noticed that market development training was harder than other topics, such as nutrition and health, because of a lack of economic development expertise among partners. CRS found that Caritas expected CRS to give out money to the SILC groups, not understanding the self-generated nature of the SILC methodology. Who asks for capacity building? The supply-driven nature of capacity building was common between the two cases, and affected the ultimate success of the effort. CHF initiated the capacity building of its partners, but noticed that some of the partners took more initiative than others, asking questions and requesting feedback and more information from CHF. These partners, in general, were more successful in their programming. CHF has now moved towards a model of responding to partner requests for support to be more demand-driven. CRS also initiated the capacity building, but measured demand by whether Caritas would return for further training in specific areas according to their need. The dioceses and parishes that asked for more training and support also tended to be more advanced and active. Learning what capacity building is needed: CHF stresses the importance of taking the time to get to know each partner individually, and figuring out what their individual capacity-building needs are. They have developed several tools, including a capacity assessment and subsequent tailored capacity building plan, to assess and plan out capacity building activities. CHF also uses site visits and internal partner review meetings to assess progress and address issues that arise. As partners go through training and learn the program through implementation, CHF observes the programs on the ground and checks in frequently with partners to see what additional capacity-building needs have arisen. This is a gradual, iterative process. Capacity building methodologies and timing: These can also affect program success. Both CHF and CRS use interactive, adult learning techniques, which are highly participatory and mix
classroom training with extensive field experiences and practical training. This is an engaging, fun methodology, but many partner staff members were not familiar with it and approached it with skepticism, assuming that the facilitator has no expertise or insights of his or her own to offer. However, post-training evaluations showed participants did learn from the training and appreciated the learning methods. Curriculum development matters, too. CHF’s training manual was developed by an international consulting firm. CHF then found they needed to adjust and add to it to make sure it would be relevant and attractive to a Rwandan audience, including adapting it to address concerns in the Rwandan environment on cooperative support, and including market-specific language on promising markets in Rwanda. CRS and CHF also recommend periodically re-assessing partners’ training needs during the program, and changing the curriculum as needed. CHF and CRS recommend structuring the training curriculum into several sessions, and including plenty of time for reflection on participants’ experiences. CHF’s curriculum includes group work on different aspects of the same case study throughout a training, which provides continuity for participants. CHF also recommends alternating classroom training with testing the new skills in the field, which has worked well with their partners. This may be particularly important when adapting an established program to an HIV and AIDS-affected context, where people affected by HIV and AIDS may have health issues or family obligations keeping them from being fully economically active. For example, the SILC methodology is used around the world, but CRS helped Caritas identify adjustments for groups with a large number of PLWHA. Training versus individual interaction: Both CRS and CHF are working with a number of partner organizations. Conducting formal training is attractive because it is fast, cost-effective, and easily replicable. Both NGOs agree, though, that training is not nearly as effective or important as individualized attention in the form of counseling, mentoring, guidance, and inperson observance. This is very time- and labor-intensive, but has a stronger impact in the long run than training. Partner staff competencies: In cases where existing capacity is not present, partners can either train existing staff or hire staff with economic development experience. However, this is not always a smooth process. For example, CHF knew that its partners did not have any previous experience in economic development. In response, they became highly involved in the recruitment and selection process, helping partners to develop job descriptions and interview questions, and even participating in interviews. However, ultimately the choice of staff is up to the local partner, which can cause considerable frustration if there is not a consensus. Programs responding to the varied needs of clients affected by HIV & AIDS can face particular difficulties in this area, because local-partner staff are more likely to be experts in community development or in health than in market development or microfinance. CHF and CRS recommend that lead partners require multiple staff members from each partner organization to attend trainings and meetings, particularly those related to decision-making and project planning. For example, Caritas nutrition staff work with the same populations as the SILC staff, so it is helpful if they each know about the other’s programs. General courses, such as on fundraising or project management, are useful to most or all local partner staff. CHF also
advises that lead organizations clearly spell out which partner staff members should attend which trainings. Ever-increasing training needs: As the CHAMP program’s work with cooperatives got started, CHF realized that even more business-related services such as conflict management, advocacy, and lobbying- were needed. This was well beyond the capability of CHF’s partners. CHF therefore decided to develop partners’ ability identify other service providers with these specific skills, and encourage these linkages. Partner peer learning: For organizations with multiple local partners, this can be a highly effective and low-cost way to improve partner capacity building. CHF has found that struggling partners benefit from the example and positive peer pressure they receive from interacting with stronger partner organizations. They recommend scheduling time for all partners in a given program or region to share their accomplishments and challenges with one another. Lead organizations may want to consider allocating funds for particularly high-performing local partners to conduct site visits or peer assistance for partners with difficulties. Other opportunities, such as national microenterprise conferences, should also be encouraged or mandated. Partner commitment: CRS felt that the results of capacity building ultimately came down to the individual capacities and receptivity among different Caritas staff. Managerial commitment mattered as well; some of the Caritas directors and administrators are highly committed to the SILC program, and have even asked CRS to help them implement more advanced economic programming. Others are more skeptical of the methodology, or have other commitments, and have not invested the time and attention necessary for SILC to succeed. Sustainable capacity building outcomes: The desired sustainability of capacity building will vary from partnership to partnership, and between the lead and local partner. CRS is not yet planning for program exit, but eventually expects Caritas to continue SILC after the funding ends-a viable prospect given the easy replication of SILC. However, CRS knows that ultimately this is in Caritas’ hands. CHF knows that often organizations simply implement programs for as long as there is funding, and quickly shift their programmatic focus as donor preferences change. In order to increase the chance that their Rwandan partners will continue market development activities after CHAMP ends, CHF has started to train partners on strategic planning, fundraising, and establishing core business areas. They also promote basic institution-building measures, for example having a dedicated member on staff for institutional financial management. Their hope is that the partners will take on economic programming as a core business, and will learn how to fundraise for their business plans rather than chasing donor funding. The twin milestones of technical capacity and fundraising ability are CHF’s core measures of whether a partner organization is ‘ready’ for exit. CRS and CHF recommend that lead partners who foresee their exit have a plan in place, and announced, at least two years ahead of time. The local partners need to be certain and accept that the lead partner is exiting, and need to understand what milestones will be required of them as the transition occurs. Local partners also need opportunities to let the lead partner know what
further assistance – such as funding, training, linkages, or institutional strengthening – they will need before being able to implement the program on their own.
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