Lessons learned

The task is for sure challenging and we are brave.
We are cautions with learning lessons and adjust our ways ow working.
The HR&S programme has been in operation since 2009 and many lessons have been learned. These lessons have been used to adapt the  programme to the conditions in the Target countries. These are cross-cultural learning in actual practice.

Lack of ownership (examples)
1. We bought a mill to a village and the aim was to generate profit and use the profit to pay for school-lunches. We had seen successful milling businesses in neighbouring villages, but our mill never generated an income, even though we had paid all the start-up costs and provided continuous coaching. We realised that the initiative was not needs driven (according to the HR&S definition). The lesson learned has been confirmed as we have since sold mills to local entrepreneurs who set us profitable businesses.

2. We identified 300 children who did not go to school and developed a school programme for them. We provided everything, books, bags, uniforms, pens, and school fees. We provided sleeping mats, soap, sweater, shoes, toothbrush. We offered light and home-work support. Our children managed the exams very well (95% success-rate). But we came to realised that we had cause conflicts in the families as the parents did not want their children to go to school. Now we only involve children in school programmes if the families request it.

3. We have successfully invested in rural businesses which have been needs-driven (according to the HR&S definition). Later we allowed family members of the Programme partners to also benefit from the service. Then we realised that the initiators of the programme paid back loan and interest to 100%, but that family members rarely paid back anything. The lesson learned is that family members consider the support as a gift.

4. Financial investments without coaching have been lost. The money has been consumed and the loan-taker comes back and asks for more. The lesson learned is that loans cane be considered as gifts. A thorough coaching and control mechanisms has to be implemented.

5. Receipts cannot always be trusted. The buyer may agree with the vendor to write an amount on the receipt that is higher that what was actually paid.

6. Authorities, auditors, custom agencies and other stake-holders cannot always be trusted as some of them take bribes.

7. It is challenging to overcome the "Traditional development aid" attitude, where the donors are in charge and the "implementers" do what is asked for, in order to be paid.

Financial investment
When it comes to financial investment we have faced many challenges and dis-honesty and dis-trust.

-Loans were taken but were not paid-back as agreed. When formal requests were presented the money had already been spent and pay back was no longer possible. When local police has been addressed they have been found corrupt. HR&S has lost significant amount of money.
- National legal documents have proven fake.
- Money has been used for other purposes than agreed.
- Family members consider they do not have to pay back.
- Receipts have been fake.
- Bribery has occurred.
- Financial reports were not delivered or not correct.
- Auditors were not honest.
- Frequent communication with loan takers before the transfer of the loan, and thereafter silence.
- Equipment provided for the benefit of the collaboration have been sold.

Post- colonial attitudes
We have seen that potential partners have an expectation that is based on post-colonial attitudes and donor driven programmes.

-Free coaching has been taken for granted.
-Donations have been expected.
-Large investments (€ 10,000 – 100,000) have been requested for business ideas with no proven reality.
-Lack of interest have been shown in partnership development exercises.

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