We do more with less
At the IAF, we actively support grassroots development initiatives to increase available resources in communities across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The community groups we partner with propose creative solutions to address their own development needs, and we respond with small grants.
But grantmaking isn’t all we do at the IAF. We strategically increase the impact of our work in cost-effective ways by supporting peer-to-peer learning, grantee exchanges, networks, capacity building and community asset mobilization.
Building communities, building capacity
Sharing best practices and experiences among marginalized groups, as well as with key national and regional networks fortifies the communities we serve and their development goals.
While our grants are flexible and usually include funding for technical assistance, many grassroots and nongovernmental organizations have a difficult time finding the type of expertise they need.
Minga Peru is a good example of how building capacity in areas such as strategic communications can help our community partners work more effectively, develop a stronger presence, and mobilize more resources. Connecting international networks helps create a new model for technical assistance, called Institutional Strengthening in Strategic Communications (FICE) program.
Peer-to-peer learning multiplies impact
Our approach to grantmaking is cooperative and participatory. We engage community partners in every step of the process. In addition to responding to the specific development needs that communities identify, we share resources, offer guidance, and connect our community partners through networks, exchanges, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
These initiatives multiply the effects of each group’s achievements. Learning networks support long-term sustainability well beyond the life of a grant.
A good example is RedColaborar, a platform that promotes people and grassroots organizations in LAC to strengthen links between partners to support the exchange of experience and knowledge.
Connecting people and solutions through networks
Through presentations, workshops, and field visits, our community partners discuss the challenges and opportunities their communities face. They also share best practices on sustainable solutions for local economic and social development challenges, adaptation to climate change, improvement for food security, among other topics. After our knowledge sharing and networking events, we identify next steps in each of their countries and possibilities for continued collaboration.
For example, in 2012 and 2015 we facilitated the participation of IAF community partners from 16 countries at a key regional event convened by Ecovida, a network of over 220 producer associations and agricultural enterprises, NGOs and consumer groups from the three southern states of Brazil. This event provided our partners the opportunity to meet, discuss, share experiences, exchange ideas and lessons learned about sustainable agriculture practices.
The IAF sponsors grantee exchanges in order to create organic networks where grantees meet, share experiences, and learn from one another. The results of these exchanges and visits have been encouraging, since grantees are learning new approaches to address similar challenges and connecting to organizations that have creative technical skills or resources that they are willing to share.
In recent years, results of our networking and knowledge sharing efforts were evident, in examples such as Guatemala’s Sa Qa Chol Nimla K’aleb’aal (SANK). This partner works for Q’eqchi ‘communities supporting them in their natural resources management, in accordance with their ancestral traditions and they were able to benefit from the technical expertise provided by the Association of Mayan Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala (AANMG).
Ensuring sustainable enterprise development
Our approach to sustainable development includes unlocking and increasing private, public and community resources for grassroots development through financial and programmatic partnerships. These financial or in-kind resources are frequently drawn from the community, philanthropic assets, corporate support, public funds and diaspora organizations.
Our partners’ community development efforts will only be sustainable if they tap into, mobilize and generate local and national resources that add to and last beyond our funding. Successful, long-term development requires expertise and funds from multiple stakeholders: organized civil society, public sector and the private sector. To develop innovative partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders will multiply the impact of contributions from U.S. taxpayers
In order to nurture a healthy business environment for the U.S. it is important to have stable and democratic neighbors characterized by the rule of law – along with a private sector engaged in strengthening democratic institutions.
Talk about community-led development!