Lessons Learned & Informed Decisions

Sustainable Development

The transition away from the Aid industry mindset*

As a result of the Aid industry, the expectation of many local partners at the offset of a new collaboration with a foreign partner is the donor-driven structure. Local partners may expect that their salaries and other programme running costs shall be paid for by foreign donors, that foreign donors shall provide administrations services, pieces of training as well as equipment, consumables, service and maintenance, free of charge. The problem with the Aid industry is though that scientific research has found that the system preserves poverty. HR&S has developed the “Strategy for Change” (SfC) and is implementing this tool in every programme that we run. SfC includes, among other changes, a shift in mindset from donor-driven programmes to “equal partnership research, innovation and social enterprising for improved livelihood”. This change includes the understanding that salaries are not paid for by HR&S, training is not given for free by HR&S, programmes are not funded by HR&S. Instead the HR&S local RISE centres are social enterprises that generate the income required to do local social good, in deep, close and caring collaboration with HR&S Sweden. HR&S benefits from the Lean startup model, the Lean business model and the Agile strategy.

We have to move away from the “help-me” mindset. That involves full accountability of for example paying back loans. But it goes further, it means actual equal partnership. The important aspect is that in a collaboration it must be win-win.
The reason being that a foreign partner also cannot have a role where the partner is expected to just pay and in addition invest a lot of work time. Life is not like that, also not in Europe. Europeans have limited amount of time and bills to pay as well. This may not be the way “mzungus”  are usually perceived and their situation is usually not reflected on. It may seems like they have endless of time to work and endless amount of money to spend. But this is not true. Not at all.
The key for anyone who wants to work internationally and to be successful, is to respect this situation. Ensure win-win. That both parties benefit. This perception is the actual Paradigm of Change that HR&S is working hard to address.
It is the only way for Africa to become strong, and establish professional relations with quality companies. So we are breaking new grounds.

Testimonies by NGO´s in Liberia

When inviting many NGO’s in Liberia to the webinar on “Global development and international investment”, the responses were:

  1. Many people expressed their interests in the training.
  2. To pay has remain one issue.
  3. Their choice of interest. Some have interest in training around procurement, logistics , proposals writing, M&E, Reports Writing, Strategic Plans Development and similar issues.


  1. The NGOs wants to be trained to serve the Aid industry. Not their people.  Their customer is the aid industry. They are the service providers to Aid Industry, Not to Liberia
  2. If people focus on training to serve the aid industry. Who shall serve the people ?
  3. This is an expected approach by the NGOs under the circumstances as Liberia right experinece extreme economic hardship and things are moving backwards for a lot of people.
  4.  The mistake is obviolusly not with the people but with the aid industry.


  1. The aid industry develops a realtion with the NGO´s and not with the people.
  2. The institutions that can reach the poor, the social enterprises, do not get the attention of the Aid industry.
  3. As a result of the Aid industry relations, the NGO´s have the oppinion that service should be provided for free, which generates yeat another obstical for the Social enterprises to get established.

HR&S Branches – team spirit

Background: During 2020 and 2021, HR&S paid small reimbursements to the RISE Centre operations team, EUR 300 per person and programme they were coaching on. The same deal was made for the auditors. The funds for the reimbursement were generated through the ActionInvest programme.
Lessons learned: The HR&S CEO reflection and lesson learned was that if HR&S pays, even if it is a small a reimbursement, HR&S may give the wrong message. We may give the message that the set-up is Aid still and donor driven, that the team members only needs to attend some of the meetings and maybe do a small assignment if the task is clearly spelt out, to get this reimbursement. We may give the message that there is money available in abundance. What we want is instead, self-driven RISE Centre team members, who take own initiatives to coach the programmes and to generate income for the RISE Centres.
Informed decision: If the income instead is dependent on team activity  the team may become more focused.
The sources of income are still small mid 2021; membership fee, interest and webinars, but we can scale up all of them and also create new sources of income. For example, good internet access can be an additional value proposition. Thus, what we shall focus on from now is how to generate income locally for local RISE Centres.
The coaches will be reimbursed at a level decided on by HR&S Sweden and HR&S Branches together, the cost is covered by the locally generated income. Also the auditor will be reimbursed at a level decided on by HR&S Sweden and HR&S Branches together, but this cost will be covered by ActionInvest until further notice, as the auditor is an external resource.

RISE Team of operations –  reimbursement

Background. During 2020 and 2021, HR&S paid small reimbursements to the RISE Centre operations team, EUR 300 per person and programme they were coaching on. The same deal was made for the auditors. The funds for the reimbursement were generated through the ActionInvest programme.
Lessons learned. The HR&S CEO reflection and lesson learned was that if HR&S pays, even if it is a small a reimbursement, HR&S may give the wrong message. We may give the message that the set-up is Aid still and donor driven, that team members only needs to attend some of the meetings and maybe do a small assignment if the task is clearly spelt out to get this reimbursement, and that there is money available in abundance. What we want is instead, self-driven RISE Centre team members, who take initiatives to coach the programmes and generate income for the RISE Centres.
Informed decisions. If the income instead is dependent on team activity  the team may become more focused and more motivated.
The sources of income are still small mid 2021; membership fee, interest and webinars, but we can scale up all of them and also create new sources of income. For example, good internet access can be an additional value proposition.
The coaches will be reimbursed at a level decided on by HR&S Sweden and HR&S Branches together, the cost is covered by the locally generated income. Also the auditor will be reimbursed at a level decided on by HR&S Sweden and HR&S Branches together, but this cost will be covered by ActionInvest until the RISE Centre finances is stable,  to secure the auditing independent on the income.
1. As cost is covered by the locally generated income, the reimbursement level will be determined by how much the RISE centre is making, taking other costs into account.  For each income range we have a fixed commission for the coaches. The more the income then it means they had put in more work and time.
2. The calculation, shall also take into account the level of contributions of each coach in the activities.If for example the RISE has 5 planned activities, one coach can intervene on 3 only and another coach on the 5, then reimbursment contribution is 60% and 100% respectively. The team leader can keep record of how active the members are so that it is taken into account when calculating.
3. The Centres will also in parallel stipulate a minimum amount of milestones that a coach must deliver during a year to be reimbursed as a coach.

Income webinars. Single participants pay to RISE contributing to the reimbursement of the operations staff & coaches. Institutions pay HR&S Sweden who will deliver the webinar. We can consider a bonus to the coaches who links HR&S to new webinar institution clients. Institution clients can be assumed to remain as partners, and opening doors is key.


Cecilia states: I will take them through everything during the meeting. Those who do not agree will not attend again. That is as it should be. In the webinar we will go through everything in depth. People will say ” yes, you are right, it is true” But I do not want us to bring pretenders on-board. As in, let me pretend for these aid people, maybe I get something at the end. I do not judge, I love and respect everyone, but I want a team that will deliver. I understand what the aid industry has created. It is time for a transition. Only very few people are interested in change.
Partner responds: It is not just a transition, it is disruption or a total change phenomenon. I understand and agree.
Partner TWO comments: It’s clear that many institutions will not agree with this change, but unfortunately their fight for aid is for their own pockets. Imagine so many years of aid but people still poor. A pity.
Partner THREE comment: It is very pitiful because so much money has been collected in order to help the poor and yet we are still facing the same challenges. Change is hard for sure and targeting the right people is important.


Equality initiatives must be carefully carefully balanced, so that it remains positive towards towards the group to be empowered BUT NOT negative towards others. The HR&S team of operation shall include all stakeholders, the targeted group  and everyone else as well. HR&S claims that it is good to do things together, ensuring equality within the team.  HR&S will, for example, ensure an even balance of different stakeholders in out teams; among team-leaders, in each RISE Centre, as well as HR&S Sweden. We want different stakeholders to be equally visible, share equally much, benefit equally much….Sometimes we need to focus on certain groups; it can be young people, poor people, children, an ethnical group, women… But without opposing the rest of the community.
Women empowerment, for example, is truly needed,  in Sweden and in African countries. The HR&S approach is that we do it together. Sometimes we notice that women go against men, this is not the HR&S way, this will create conflict and the programme will also not be successful cause the lack the support from half of the population. The same with under-served population empowerment, one of the missions of HR&S, and here we ensure equality through our Action No ONE; needs and user driven approach.

Business to Business  (B2B)

We seek partnership with local social enterprises. We prefer social enterprises, or regular businesses, prior to partnership with associations or NGO’s. When we identify a local social enterprise that has an overlapping mission with HR&S we may want to  give them a call to make an appointment, so we can get to learn about them and that can help us decide if we want to partner with them. Then, as we are two social enterprises we shall look into the social good win-win as well as a sustainable economy. One target can be to sell (low price if they cannot afford much) a webinar where we share about our Strategy for Change, that we most likely believe is a useful tool for them to use. We shall approach the local social enterprise or business as a potential ideal customer. They may very well also have a product or service that we want to buy from them. It is better with exchange of paid services, than exchange of free services, capturing that both institutions are businesses. This approach also clarifies to the potential partner, from the very beginning, that HR&S is not a donor.

Cross-cultural understanding & respect

The Outcome challenge has to be defined, activities identified and milestones implemented. Cecilia’s take right now is that the outcome challenge is that stakeholders do not understand each other, do not connect and do not mutually respect each other.
Cecilia’s Activity proposal is that partners meet across cultures. Discussing HR&S supported on-going social enterprises.Cecilia’s  proposed activity is that we have zoom meetings where we bring in everyone. From the monthly givers, to Action10 staff, HR&S staff, RISE centre team, Social entrepreneurs and their customers. We shall take small steps while developing this. Long term planning. Continuously, starting in November 2021. Lessons learned, informed joint decisions. We my want to target one RISE Centre at the time, or one social enterprise at a time.  Monthly events (1st Wednesday of the month, evening). We can even occasionally invite the aid sector to learn from us.
Output: Cecilia wants to make it big within HR&S and Action10. Developing it slowly but firmly. On virtual platforms and as often as possible, face-to-face.
Expected outcome: If we meet someone, and get to know the person, feel the person, it is easier to respect and understand each other. It should be a platform for accountability towards each other.

Equal partnership

Testimony: ” I don’t completely agree with him when he says we trying to use him as a puppet for our own programmes. He is a partner who decided to abuse his influence and compromise the health of the salon business. Then threw his hands in the air, trying to run away from the repercussions”.
Lesson learned / reflection by CEO: It is importnat to consider the view that HR&S is trying to use a partner as a puppet fro our own programmes. I woud assume that this is in a way true for many donor driven programme with governmental aid funding, that are actually seeking local institutions to implement their own national aid programme. HR&S on the other hand is seeking to empower local entrepreneurs to implement their own businesses. But a statement like this mirrors a perception locally and most likely builds on previous experiences.
Informed decision: Bring up the issue early on, when a new partnership is to be discussed.

The size of a donation

Testimony: “How come foreigners donate so little, do they not understand how much we need or they are just selfish, we know they have a lot of money”

Understanding the situation

After money is transfered, it may be lost

Value proposition

We avoid pity, we avoid guilt and we avoid patronizing activities. We enforce our unique and innovative value proposition:

  • ActionONE: Needs and user driven activities.
    It is the person(s) who shall benefit from the activity that is also bringing the idea, is designing and implementing it, and is responsible for creating sustainability and impact.
  • ActionTWO: Equal partnership.
    A collaboration where the partners communicate well and share inputs, responsibilities, and benefits equally.
  • ActionFIVE: Sustainable economy.
    All partners generate a sustainable income that cover their own running costs, as well as enable innovation and growth. We target social enerprising.
  • ActionSIX:  Institutional capacity.
    Partners must have the the capacity to implement agreed on activities, thus cross-cultural understanding, transparency and accountability in ethics and governance, intrinsic motivation and agency for change.

Practical strategies that captures cross-cultural respect and trust

We address global development and therefore collaborate with local partners to develop and implement practical strategies that captures cross-cultural respect and trust. We use the SfC to frame the work with developing the CROSS & TRUST practical strategies. International equal partnership for global development within the HR&S frame means that scientific researchers and social entrepreneurs are empowered by HR&S in a way that HR&S solves the outcome challenges for the local partner, so that the partner is enabled to implement social development locally.

Now, one outcome challenge for the partnership is that the direct ambition is different. The local partner can be expected to address their own career or income as a priority, and maybe or maybe not global, or at least national development, as well, whereas HR&S addresses global development as a priority. There is an overlap in that HR&S expects global development from researchers and social entrepreneurs in SSA being successful, but it must be made clear the the direct ambitions are fundamentally different. For example HR&S is concerned about the success of the local partner, but the local partner is not concerned about the success of HR&S. This may result in the outcome challenge that transparency and accountability may be weak. Equal partnership can be expected to build on that both partners want to support the success of the other partner.

One activity is the ActionTalks where partners meet in a webinar once a month. Milestones are to prepare an agenda that motivates participation and for example explains the expectations of different stakeholders. Input is access to internet for all stakeholders. Second activity: Increasing RISE members  participation in different activities. If RISE centres are having events where partners are encouraged to attend or give presentations to other potential members about their own experiences with HR&S so that they are somehow contributing to the growth the centres.

Stakeholder analysis: RISE members tend to have have low interest in equal partnership and low level of power. HR&S local offices operations team members, can be expected to have interest in the success of HR&S Sweden if they  have intrinsic motivation and agency for change, and low level of power. High interest and high level of power can be expected to be found with certain individuals  at senior scientific or development  institution management in SSA that has intrinsic motivation and agency for change. High interest and high level of power can also be expected with certain individuals at decision making positions within global development institution that has intrinsic motivation and agency for change.

Outcome challenges – lack of pay back of loan

During the period 2009 – 2021, HR&S has failed when given loans to under-served communities in every country that we have tried; Kenya, Uganda, Togo, Liberia and Nigeria. HR&S has never been successful with this during this period. This is important knowledge for us and for the whole world. The projects have been successful from an aid point of view, the expected results have been achieved as long as payments were made, but the sustainability failed, when money was spent the project died and everything we had established died. We have not been able to attract back the loan in Kenya with Amani, or Dolas, in Uganda with BanaPads and Creative Arts, in Togo with IARAD or SEVIE, in Liberia with IDEFOCS and in Nigeria with SpellAfrica. We have been able to attract back the loan in Togo with L&D and M Yawo and in Kenya with Weema, thus we are now successful in Togo when Milohum has taken over. Millicent is successful in Kenya when reaching out to a company already well established and not in in an under-served community.
Reflection/Activity: A deal between an institution in an under-served community and HR&S Sweden will most likely not work. We need our i) local branches to stay in contact with the target partners and we need to ii) strike the deal with an agency for change, like M Yawo in Togo, if in under-served community, or an established entrepreneur with good intentions, like Weema in Nairobi, iii) we must respect ActionONE in every situation, only needs and user-driven intervention. Our local branches must have a humble approach, they are not coaches, as they do not know the realities of the target partners and this then goes against ActionONE, they are facilitators, addressing outcome challenges identified by target partners through activities in the SfC scheme. 


Reach out to institutions
Testimony: “I have send emails like to almost  15 different institutions. Trying to strategize another way of reaching out. Maybe through such workshops that we hold.
 Emailing isn’t the best method maybe.”


“Le développement en Afrique passe forcément par l’éducation, la santé et surtout la nutrition car un peuple affamé n’a point d’oreille. Donc je pense pour ma part que nous devons investir dans l’agriculture et la transformation afin de nourrir le plus grand nombre de personnes qui ont faim. C’est un problème crucial actuellement un peu partout sur le continent et le Togo ne fait pas exception.”

The ambition of the local partner

Quote by the CEO: “Support within HR&S concerns satisfying the needs and expectations of the receiver and not satisfying the needs of the donor.” Thus, if the outcome is not to be expected or is not measured based on evidence, and if the support is not linked to a local partner’s expressed ambition, then HR&S will not involve itself in that specific support programme.


The Aid industry has not always been able to keep accounting, auditing, transparency, and accountability at the highest level in their programmes. This has created gaps that have to be addressed and that now constitute outcome challenges for HR&S. HR&S always address accountability management in the programmes, and accountability management is a parameter in the Strategy for Change.

Signed agreements

It seems that one of the consequences from the absence of rule of law, is that even though we develop and sign agreements, it is like this agreements never existed.
The reflection is that if we do not have rule of law, also signed agreements are not honoured….like, there is not reason, and thus no tradition to respect signed agreements. It is not part of the social culture.
 If this is the case, then we have to make a plan.

Cross-cultural understanding within a country

Cross-cultural understanding is not only required between countries, but also within countries between communities. In every country can it be difficult for the formally educated community and the illiterate community to understand each other. Thereby we may lack trust and respect and efficient communication may become a problem. In HR&S we depend on the coordination between groups with different capacity and experience, all being equally important, when improving livelihood for the under-served community; may it be the capacity to perform according to university education or to manage a programme within an under-served community. HR&S therefore depends on establishing teams of members with cross-cultural skills.

Coaching, accountability & equal partnership

Until 2021, the RISE Centres were equipped with coaches. The purpose was to, in a friendly and respectful manner, support RISE members to run a profitable business.
Lesson learned
The lesson learned is that partners did not appreciate to be coached and the coaching aspect had a tendency to destroy the equal partnership atmosphere.
Informed decision
1. From 2022, the coaches instead became trainers. The trainers offer bi-annual open and general trainings on the previous topics of the coaching. They often offer joint training events, all trainers together.
2. Also, the RISE team interact with the RISE members by addressing their own identified outcome challenge. Thus, as stipulated by ROPE, entrepreneurs identify their own business challenges and if possible, the RISE team accept to develop activities and milestones to support with addressing and solving the challenges. It can be noted that the RISE Centres can obviously only support areas where the team has expertise and experience or HR&S has expert advisers.
3. When coaching is requested for by our partners, then we shall obviously provide coaching. The issue is to not impose coaching is not requested for and thereby create im-balance in the equal partnership agenda.


There is often an expectation among potential partners that a foreign partner shall come onboard and sort out their problems.
The foreign partner is expected to develop an activity plan, invite for and hold meetings, write reports, offer training, pay per diems, provide grants, give donations, reimburse stakeholders as well as procure  equipment; computers, internet servers, laboratory equipment and there after repair the equipment when it breaks-down as well as provide consumables.
The SSA partners in return offer to attend meetings and trainings. But in reality the the SSA partner may or may not actually attend the meetings and training events, and also often expects to be reimbursed if the do attending.
Lesson learned
The lesson learned is that potential partners do not look at the traditional aid programmes as useful in actual practice. They may benefit small, some money, some knowlege, and procured item, but the motivation join a traditional aid intervention is usually extrensic, and not intrinsic.
Informed decision
1. A new potential partnership in SSA starts with a webinar paid for by the partner. The payment, besides co-funds the actual cost of the exercise, also filters out partners with only exentric motivation.
2. HR&S never pushes to implement a programme, we make ourselves visible, share about our capacity and offer, and then wait for potential partners to propose a collaboration.
3. During the webinar the partners’s expectations on each other are clarified.

Doable business ideas

From the initiatives taken by our partners we have identified certain areas.

Training in a profession
Schools for hair dressers, tailoring, cocking as well as farming with proper examinations. Hair dressing and coocking may need one year and tailoring three years. The school can take customers at low price, as the service is provided by students.
HR&S offer to support the students to establish real businesses after they have been trained, and then take customers full price. The brand should be high standards.
The schools can have parallel awareness raising around “too early pregnancy” and/or training in English language.

Business-loans in under-served communities
Loans are given out with 10 % interest and ActionInvest provides the capital to the RISE member. The capital is paid back to HR&S also with 10 % interest. The interest is annual.
As under-served communities often asks for support with keeping the money the HR&S partner usually collect weekly shares of the payback. Now this money gan be given out as loan again, thus in parallel and the total income can increase to 20 or even 30 %. The interest generated on top of the 10% is kept by the RISE member.

Solar panel and mills
HR&S provides the capital for procuring solar panels and mills.

KNOWLEDGE-SHARING MONTHLY MEETING                                                        4/08/2021
Notes from the discussion

Millicent SIFUNA, Kenya (taking notes)
Cecilia ÖMAN, Sweden (making small presentation, reviewing the notes)
Stephanie MAÏGA, Burkina Faso
Evelyn FUNJIKA, Zambia
Kanekwa ZYAMBO, Zambia
Moses MURUNGU, Uganda
Milohum DZAGLI, Togo
Aghama JESUROBO , Nigeria
Elvis AUSTINS, Nigeria (only partly, due to internet challenges)


The following is a compilation of different views of team leaders from different countries brainstorming on the topic above. Seven countries were represented, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Burkina Faso, and Sweden.

What could motivate people to join our team?

  1. The brand of the institution. What is our brand? People like to associate themselves with a successful brand. A way to attract serious-minded people is to share the impact of our work and the number of people from different backgrounds that are members of our institution.
  2. If they know our mission and our impact and if it aligns with what they want, as their vision, it is easy to volunteer with us. This could then be a form of fulfillment. Moreover, it will be something those who choose to work with us want to invest in. Thus, passion will drive such kinds of individuals. We should thus be able to communicate our impact to get people whose interest or passion aligns with it, even if they are not going to benefit financially.
  3. Action10-HR&S offers opportunities to do things freely while learning from mistakes.
  4. Area of development (social development) also tend to attract positive, supportive and active people with intrinsic motivation, thus ensuring a good working environment.

What skills are required while introducing people into the team?

  1. Select volunteers from experience.
  2. Volunteers themselves should clarify what they are going to do and how they can offer their service.
  3. How would the work invested in Action10-HR&S constrain them in relation to other things they want to do?

Views about cross-cultural respect

Reflections on interest in cultures-respecting-other-cultures.

  1. Not keeping people out. Understanding them while not judging.
  2. People are held accountable based on our Ten Actions and core values. People are free, but they should not go overboard. The Ten Actions and core values are our guiding principles.
  3. We continue to experience the post-colonial attitude. Solving this is by identifying and addressing it now and then. We should also understand how to identify the post-colonial attitude. Talk about post-colonial attitude openly and list down the different aspects of it, so that it is easily recognized when it happens. Whoever is in the situation should know best. Look into literature and find scientific findings also from the African literature.
  4. HR&S does not encourage the savior mentality, so a lot of conflicts are saved. We should strive to develop strategies that kill the ‘helping mentality; which HR&S has ensured already. Equal partnership is key.
  5. Set understanding of language. Communication is key. Best way to discuss with other people. E.g., In Togo, you have to be friendly to get attention. It would be best if you also were patient. Not to offend someone. Respect for each other. Giving a chance to ask questions. Listen to each other. Give time. Be understanding. Give a chance to ask questions or share thoughts about what you are saying.
  6. Know what to sell, know the culture of the people to whom you want to sell the service.
  7. If we are supporting a social entrepreneur who are introducing projects in communities rooted deeply in culture, our partner the RISE member must know how to talk to people. That is also why we are firm on our Action No.1; “needs and user driven”, ensuring that projects introduced in communities have been requested for by the community already and is being implemented by one of the community member. Our partner social entrepreneur is supported to hold several meetings with the community and chief of the community, the Elders etc.
  8. If potential ideal customers do not understand why they have to pay for a service, we should break down the cost of the structure.


Testimony: “What I lack most is money, please bring me a loan and I will pay back as soon as I can”.
Lessons learned / reflection by the CEO: There seems to often be a conflict in the perseption of who shall take the decisions on how the money shall be used. The local partner obviously understands the local conditions and is an expert in that sense. The partner providing the funds seems to often have a more long-term view and wants to see measurable results with sustainable impact, not only that the funds are used to address urgent needs. The receiever seems to see this as a patronising attitude, both if it is diaspora and if it is a foreign donor. That accounting in it self is patronising or disrepctul, as sign of misstrust. Which it can be maybe between individuals, but not in the business sector.
Informed decision: Put words on these outcome challenges early on, as soon as a new partnership is discussed. Agree on a practical strategy. Agree on that the partnership is business, not between private persons.

The way we present our partners in social media

Reflections by CEO: We do not do pity and we do not do coaching.
Concerning the pity, in their daily lives people in under-served communities are equally strong and equally happy as we are. They are poor and they lack certain opportunities, such as education, healthcare and good salaries. But there are obviously aspects of their societies that are better than in Sweden for example. They have other types of opportunities than we have, take elderly care for example, time with the family, work-stress. When we describe our partners, we must describe them in a respectful way, where they feel proud. If Jasminka would want to post a text about Cecilia, Jasminka would want Cecilia to feel proud of herself when she reads the post. Even if Cecilia was struggling with something, Jasminka would write about Cecilia’s  positive characters. We do not use pity to convince donors in Action10, we build on that we offer an innovative opportunity to under-served communities; social enterprising that is social good backed up with a sustainable economy.
Concerning coaching, cross-cultural differences make it impossible to coach in actual practice. This also goes for coaching by educated people to under-served communities in the same country. We offer training instead, on aspects that we are aware of because we have access to education. We also offer fair business-loans which are often not available in under-served communities, and we offer access to supplies and thematic experts. But the business management, everything about developing the idea, implementing it and maintaining it, here we do not have a clue.

Praise who is to  be praised

Reflections by CEO: When communication with others we have to be very careful with giving praise to the right institution or person. Action10 and HR&S are ONLY facilitators. The real work is done by our partners in Africa. We can never claim that we did this and that; built a house, created a far, educated students…. What we do is we support our partner, HERE WE ALWAYS PROVIDE THE NAME (and many times) to…. by providing maybe business loan, training, expert advice, coordination, supplies….
We do this obviously because it is fair and honest, and also because our partner otherwise may get the impression that we are stealing the project from them. A very, very fine balance.

Listen…we repeat many times…Listen

Testimony by Jasminka Franic • 1st Content Marketing Manager / Board Member at Action10
We all tend to give advice even when not asked to do so. Instead, asking people how we can help them to make their idea come true is the approach that makes a real impact. Thank you Cecilia ÖMAN and Action10 for setting the principle of listening to people´s needs and insisting on building equal partnership.”

Equal partnership / Stakeholder anaysis

Reflection by CEO: Equal partnership includes that both partners are actively engaged in the success of the other partner. Thus, HR&S can develop equal partnership agreements with individuals at relevant institutions with interest, power, intrinsic motivation and agency for change.

Low cost webinars for Target partners

Stan-alone low cost webinars for Target partners (researchers, technicians, social entrepreneurs and global developers) do not contribute to the progress markers. The participants can be expected to learn important matters but outcome is insignificant and progress markers score zero.

Cultural practices

Testimony “- We had a meeting with our partners and new challenges came out. With new information we just learned that where we have the programme located is close to the community traditional bush. And we think this has could influence our work somehow. Partner says that yes it is, that has been some of the challenges but that the community continues to tell us that there will be no trouble with us been there. That’s what they say. We never knewbefore  that the project is situated at a location that carries out cultural practices.-  It doesn’t work like that. You can meet with them as was done from the beginning, but it can in no way that their traditional norms. To be real, they will wholeheartedly embraced us, but they think differently there after. It’s also because of these high traditional practices and respect for norms that the BRV is ideally located. But considering doing business that will sabotage investment made by the locals will definitely be a challenge. Many if those people believe in giveaways. But even if it’s free, they’ll also see it as a sabotage. – Do we know why our partners then choose this place  from the beginning? RISE member partner  said this just came to his attention.”
Informed decision: So the team is suggesting to go with our RISE member partner to meet with the community structure to discuss way forward. We will meet with the community leadership. To ascertain more information on our location and that we are not in any harms way. We wished we had this information from the onset.

Testimony “The big problem that the partner see is that for HR&S to invest in the community to make profits, the partner see see it not possible because the community believe in their traditional partners in business and they will use the tradition not for you to grow. And our fear is we don’t want to invest and have serious traditional and cultural implications that will impede our work.

Lack of resilience from Europe

It can be difficult for Europe, with high delivery demand, efficiency and a stable infrastructure, to find time to understand and arrange for collaboration with stakeholders in Sub-Sahara African countries who work under conditions with weak infrastructure.

On-line meetings is one such example, Europe has access to stable internet, quality computers, reliable electricity, zoom and Teams accounts, which is often not the case for the SSA partners. SSA partners may therefore not be able to attend, or their audio cennections are weak during the meeting. Eurpean partners may not find the time to compensate for the limited communication opportunities.

Can a HR&S country branch team-leader also be a RISE loan-taker

Testimony: “It would be okay to give team leader loans. But from experience, if we do so, we run a risk of loosing those very team leaders especially if they are unable to clear the loan. If we want to go into the loan business for team leaders, then we must have an independent adjudicator whose role is to take care of collateral. Generally, people are never willing to repay loans if such loans were received on the premise of their morality and honesty. Eventually, they default and just cease to operate for the company. As a person who runs a financial services business with my sister, I know that even the most trusted and honest people will find it hard to repay loans of any amount of they have not been requested to deposit collateral. For example, person x wishes to invest in his coffee business, a business that takes up to maybe 2-3 years to generate income.  That is not only a long loan period but it implies that they may be unable to easily make timely repayments and should he default, then we could loose the person as a team-leader. Because the person will feel embarrassed to continue working after having defaulted him / herself. I rather, we pay the person annual fees for his/her continued efforts on the project and he/she can use those fees to invest in his7her other business. That way he/she owes the company nothing, there is no risk of default and the person can continue working well as he/she has been.”


Testimony, Dec 2021: “Generally, people are never willing to repay loans if such loans were received on the premise of their morality and honesty. As a person who runs a financial services business with my sister, I know that even the most trusted and honest people will find it hard to repay loans of any amount of they have not been requested to deposit collateral.
We still need to use the funds as intended i.e. for social enterprising but we need to change the mode of financing. We may need to invest in businesses that can provide assurance of repayment through provision of collateral and we must have an independent adjudicator whose role is to take care of collateral.
We can go wide scale and announce the opportunity in public forums. And we will be able to get the right organizations to deal with. Of course after due diligence.”


Jan 2022 / Cecilia’s refection: Documentaries on Youtube, and also scientific papers, shows that love scamming and business scamming from Africa towards Europe, USA and Australia is huge. We can easily imagine that Aid scamming is on the same page. Maybe it was even the aid system that created the other modes of scamming. It is a trillion dollar industry now. Most people behind the scamming are suffering, so it can be in a way understandable. But the the problem is that the scamming mentality sustains poverty, rather than putting effort in building businesses effort is invested in scamming. HR&S aims to show the other way, change mentalities and offer better options than scamming, that is long term financially sustainable solutions that also generates social good.  We can assume that the situation is created through a combination of poverty, lack of social security and law of rule-of-law combined with the aid sector providing funds in a fragile accountability system.

Research Management

Access to funds

Testimonies: Researcher (not PI) “My outcome challenge is lack of funds”. This testimony is stated by almost every researcher asked.
The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of funds”, the challengs is lack of fundraising activites.
Follow up questions; why are you not engaging yourself is seeking funds? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I do not know where to apply”, “I do not know how to apply”, “I do not have time”, “I thought it was the PI only who should seek funds”.
Informed decision: Develop and manage monthly or bimonthly fundraising commeetties that meets regurlarly with effective and efficient meeting agendas. Committee members shares assignments, shares knowledge and support each other in developing research grant applications. PP Awarenes raising on research grant application review criteria and the mandate of grant institutions (not aid institutions).

Access to Equipment

Testimonies: Researcher often claim that “My outcome challenge is lack of equipment”. This testimony is stated by almost every researcher asked, who is involved with laboratory work.
The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of equipment”, the challengs is lack of activities related to ensure access to properly funtioning equipment.
Follow up questions; why are you not engaging yourself with ensuring access to properly funtioning equipment? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I do not know which piece of equipment I need”, “I do not have the funds”, “I do not have time”, “I do not know what to do to get involved with ensuring access to scientific equipment”.
Informed decision: Link key stakeholders to the Laboratory management programme. 

Access to Trainings

Testimonies: Researchers often claim that  “My outcome challenge is lack of training events”. This testimony is stated by many researchers asked.
The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none, or very little”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of access to training events”, the challengs is lack of activites related to providing access to training events.
Follow up questions; why are you not engaging yourself in activities related to providing access to training events? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I do not know how to involve myself with enabling access to training events”, “I do not have funds for training events”. know where to apply”,  “I do not have time”, “I do not consider it to be my responsibility to arrange training events”.
Informed decision: Change mind-set from expecting training events to enabling training events. 

Responsability for experimental work

Testimony by technician: Often technicians do analysis and diagnostic and answers questions related to researchers problems. Researchers often depends on technical procedures and advice when come to methodology application. Technicians are the diagnostic team n advicers if procedural guidance to testing the samples.
Reflection by Cecilia:  Actually, the availability of technicians in unfavourable when researchers are seeking research grants, the grant givers see that the real work is not done by the applicant. Sometime the technicians are not even mentioned in the publication.  Imagine the researcher presents her/his work in a conference, and someone asks about the experimental section, and the researcher cannot answer, while the technician is not mentioned among the authors. That will be an embaramnet to the researcher.

Expectations of Scientific institution management

It seems the Scientific institution management often expects the staff and students to arrange with their own research grants, while being assigned large volumes of lecturing and administrative responsibility. It seems also that the Scientific management welcomes every effort from the Aid industry to provide training to staff and students on any topic selected by the Aid industry itself, free of charge for the Scientific institution management. Especially though, does the institution management prefer coaching of staff and students to submit successful research grant applications. Unfortunately, when the staff and students receives a research grant, very little support, or no support at all, is provided to the researcher to excel in their research. On the contrary actually, there is little or no access to functioning scientific equipment, little or no time for research, lack of good internet, electricity, quality computers, and little or no professional scientific supervision.

Progress markers
– for strengthened scientific capacity

Reflection Cecilia: It seems the scientific capacity at SSA scientific institutions will not be strengthened through dedicated research grants, free training events, paid for pieces of equipment and consumables, equipment repair, library support or IT support.
Informed decision: HR&S will address the implementation of Progress Markers at Insitution management and ministry level instead.


Testimony: “I feel I will have better and timely studies at another university. You see a lot goes on at our department and certain things are better not told to people of integrity like you. I would like to have a role that would result in well managed purchase of chemical … etc so that I can progress with my PhD.  The research funds provided to us are not enough but are sufficient if used for the intended use…. how recruitment is done and how and if chemicals are bought, but other aspects are also important. It would help so much if the waste of resources and deliberate delays are dealt with. It is unfortunately a weakness on our side. I have been silenced and cannot talk seriously in the meetings again. A leader told me something I feel is so embarrassing to tell you; activity in the meetings and partnership activities is interpreted as being a spy for you. When prof Cecilia interrogates a group leader about things not done well, then the active person in the group is communicating with Cecilia about what goes on at the department. We  cannot task a donor to provide funds, recruit, buy chemical, teach people to be honest and result oriented, teach people why meetings and contributions in them are for the common good etc, that would be like telling the donor to transfer their offices to universities being helped. I pray we will try to do things well. We have visited serious groups abroad and liked their ways. Unfortunately we fail to emulate them. We have to continue the struggle for the group back at my university.”
Lesson learned: Research funds are sometimes mismanaged. Local stakeholders may sometimes be expected to team-up against a funding partner.
Reflection by CEO: WHY are local stakeholders sometimes teaming-up against a funding partner? Do we have a joint understanding that Europe deserves to be met by in-accountability because Europe is rich as a result of Africa being poor; slave trade, colonial times and present unfair trade deals. I agree with that Europe is being rich because Africa is being poor, and can easily accept such accusations. Now, if we want to find ways to change this as fast as possible, general research and business investments will risk to fail.
Informed decision: Establish clear and measurable structures around recruitment of MSc and PhD students, as well as, around the purchase of chemicals. A very narrow scope for financial research and business investments, ensuring that the partners in Africa will not team-up turn against HR&S, but see the long-term value of accountability when working with HR&S. Also the other way around, find ways to prove that HR&S is an honest and trust-worthy partner with intrinsic motivation for a shift of paradigm.

Literature review *

Outcome challenge
The university librarians tend to have access to keywords to main databases, but the researchers and the technicians are now aware of this opportunity.
Establish a link and facilitate communication between librarians and researchers.
Encourage workshops by the librarians for the researchers and technicians on increased access to literature.

Ideal Customer Hypothesis

Lessons learned has shown that the Outcome Challenges  “expecting donations and free training” as well as “bureaucracy” are difficult for us to beat within the Public Scientific Institutions. Thus our Ideal Customer Hypothesis in the HR&S Lean business model are the Private Scientific Institutions and the R&D department within the Private Sector.

Global scientific research equal partnership

During times of pandemic and climate change the global dependency on scientific research equal partnership increases. EVERYONE has to contribute, no-one can lack enough sense of joint responsibility to lack taking initiatives, work hard and ambitiously together, to generate scientific results for the benefit of the global community. HR&S addresses scientific institution management concerning ROPE research management and technicians, concerning laboratory management. The scientific management is welcome to request training for their researchers at FULL price. At full price only so that the institution see the full value and thereby the researchers. 

Lesson learned: HR&S is reluctant to offer training on scientific matters directly to researchers. The reason being that researcher seems to not understand or appreciate the effort behind when teachers outside the university provide trainings on scientific matter. They often take it for granted and may see it as reasonable to demand the training to be in a certain way, not reflecting of the conditions of the trainer or show their appreciation. They may request the training to be frequent. Often they come and go without informing their trainer about their absence. They often also request a certificate for having attended, also even if they did not attend much. Nor do researcher seems to understand effort behind providing research grants (or scientific equipment or IT support). Instead researchers ask for training to address seeking research grants and perceive it as a justified short-cut to have access to funds, instead of developing thorough scientific skills and compete on the international market for research grants. There is a savior mentality that researchers from Sub-Sahara Africa shall benefit from research grants that are more easy to access. This approach weakens the academic institutions in Sub-Sahara African countries and it does not at all make sense, as the competitions is about have bright ideas and being ambitious. One of the world´s most fair areas of competition. Even Professors at academic institutions in Sub-Sahara Africa is intensively requesting to have easy accessible research funding, special training, advanced scientific equipment and IT support. This mind-set will make other countries to look down of these countries, if the professors at the universities cannot compete in the area of bright ideas and ambitious efforts. This may even jeopardize other arenas such as the eligibility of Sub-Sahara African countries to OECD, where countries negotiates global trade conditions.
Informed decision: Thus offer training on scientific matters directly to researchers tend to promote a behavior of disrespect among trainees and grant receivers to other researchers (trainers, grant givers, grant reviewers, admin staff etc) and thereby create a negative reputation that restrict opportunities for international collaboration and networking. This seems to goes against global scientific research equal partnership.

Accounability of research grants by team-leaders

Testimony* “Unfortunately I have come to another country to take up their scholarship offer but want to continue with the groups back home. I think this is a place where I can have control the progress of my research under normal circumstances.
Your institution helped me so much. I can’t tell you how much. Because me I count every input by your institution – even the wasted one. Because your institution means well especially for Africa.  You see there is great change in the groups because of your extra effort.  But we will do more. As simple as team-leaders accepting to meet weekly and people are allowed to at least talk about progress and challenges. Is a good start. We just need to push this, ensure honesty and good will from the leaders and students.  The system can force the current leaders to change for the good. And they will improve slowly. We need to be serious indeed. 
It is painful when other people kindly work hard and sacrifice for you and then you play around with what they sweat for to help.  The pain you cause when you waste what has been sacrificed for you is much. I pray that we change and act seriously. “

Testimony* “The main challenge is many years of aid with no serious accountability.”


Partners or customers

Stakeholders in Africa seems to have the opinion that products and services provided by Europe always comes a no cost. HR&S will not invest effort in establishing equal partnership if the chances of a win-win situation are small on not at all. Thus, stakeholders from SSA are considered customers only.

Laboratory Management

Access to advanced equipment

Testimonies: Researcher and technicians (not PI) “My outcome challenges is lack of access to advanced pieces of equipment”. This testimony is stated by almost every researcher and the technician asked, who is involved with practical research.
The SfC requests “What is the activity” the answer is “none”. Lesson learned, the challenge is not “Lack of equipment”, the challenges are lack of activities.
Follow-up questions; why are you not engaging yourself in having access to equipment? Everyone answers one or several of the following: “I am waiting for the management to sort it out”. “I do not know which piece of equipment that I need”. “I do not have a research plan that explains which type of equipment that I need”. “I am not seeking research funds to procure equipment nor consumables”. “The pieces of equipment in my laboratory is broken down.”
Informed decision; i) network among technicians,  ii) fundraising committee as mentioned elsewhere,  iii) develop service & maintenance strategies.
Testimony: “Some of us have been wondering and looking waiting higher authorities approvals on status of our labs and equipment but you have open our eyes and heart to network for solutions.Thankd n God bless you.”

Ideal Customer Hypothesis

Lessons learned has shown that the Outcome Challenge “bureaucracy” is difficult for us to beat within the Scientific Institutions and the Governmental Laboratories. Thus our Ideal Customer in the Lean business model are the Private Laboratories and the International Equipment Manufacturers.

Reflection Cecilia

We need the academic institution management to be involved. They have to know how to appreciate, support and reward, where the work is actually done.

Social Enterprising

Investment capital for extremely poor individuals

For extremely poor individuals, the best approach is to begin building their financial assets and skills through savings rather than debt. In table banking, members save and borrow immediately from their savings.
HR&S can increase the capital available during the start-up phase of a Table Banking programme and enable more members to borrow maybe twice or three times their savings, at the same time.
An interest of 10 % reimburses the management staff of the Table Bank as well as communication equipment, internet and computer, Or the Table bank programme decides to have no interest and no costs.

Rule of law

Corruption combined with lack of rules of law keeps Sub-Saharan Africa poor.
Money is pouring into the region, many want to support and invest, but the opportunities are wasted.
This is our real assignment, how to handle the situation in actual practice, at the people level.

Testimony – private entrepreneur

Thank you for all you have already done for me. It is really worthy for us. The SfC is a magic tool.


Prefer no interferance by HR&S after funds have been transferred.

Testimony: “Initially we thought that we shared a similar mind and understanding of this community and their problems, something we thought would help us to impact it. Our plan was to skill individuals and see that they can use the knowledge to improve  their livelihood, verses your plans to high-jack our project making us puppets. With this background we feel it wise to liquidate our relation with HR&S without further dishonor. We also advise that since there shall be no further unity between  two entities that you may stop using our brand name.”
Reflection by CEO: Maybe our partner did not appreciate the principle of paying back a loan or setting up a social enterprise to generate income. Also, the partner may not have appreciated Cecilia’s efforts to communicate, in a very straigh-forward manner, that the givers money was not invested, and the programme was not implemented, as agreed. It seems the partner would have preferred continuous donations and no further interference by HR&S.
Lesson learned:  i) Both the local stakeholder and HR&S have  important knowledge to share and the communication method needs to be improved. ii) Do not give loans where only donations are appreciated.
Informed decision: Find an improved way of communication, both in terms of cross-cultural respect and efficiency.


Accountability management

Corruption combined with lack of rules of law keeps Sub-Saharan Africa poor. When HR&S Action10 offers loans to poor social entrepreneurs the money may not be paid back.

With no local representation and a new partnership, HR&S can expect that nothing is paid back, 0%. Even if agreements are signed, and the loan conditions are thoroughly discussed, it can still be expected that nothing will be paid back, and due to lack of rule of law, there is no authority to turn to. HR&S assumes that the reason is a combination of the Aid Industry experience combined with lack of resources, harsh living conditions with immediate needs (food, healthcare school fees), lack of business management capacity, and widespread corruption.

After two-five years of collaboration, assigning local coaches and auditors, training on business management and the HR&S tools, and awareness-raising about the HR&S standards, both with programme management partners and with local coaches, the paying back can be expected to be 50-70%.

If the local coaches and local auditor accept the HR&S standards, acts with internal motivation and regularly interacts directly with the programme management partners and in relation to their education and capacity; evaluation planning, accounting, branding & public relations, survey management and professional auditing, then a payback of more than 70% can be expected.

Action10 – Fundraising & Volunteering

What is in it for a volunteer staff?

Cecilia: For our crowd-funding site. It should be an honest win-win approach.
It cannot be driven by pity. Pity destroys. Anything that is driven by pity will go under with time.

  1.  The long-term aspect is key
  2. Supporting our partner’s own ideas
  3. Learning lessons and sharing achievements as well mistakes.
  4. Supportive, active and positive team.
  5. Cross-cultural awareness raising for changed mind-set.

Volunteer testimonies:

  1. Giving people a push to create decent life for the long run
  2. Not coming with our “what should be done” ideas, but supporting theirs.
  3. Openly communicating everything, good and bad outcomes.
  4. Working with other enthusiasts, is a great feeling too.


  1. If we bring the issue to our own back-yard. We have beggars on our streets in Stockholm too, native Swedish and foreigners. We can maybe make the parallel between the aid industry and giving a donation to our own beggars. Food for the day and maybe shelter for the night, nothing more. The may choose to use the money we give as for food and shelter or they use it for something else. We do not know.
    Now, if Action10 wanted to support their own ideas of improved livelihood and also ensure long-term solutions.  How would we do that?
  2. No 4. Very important too. And if we also bring the monthly donors into the enthusiastic team, as well as RISE partners and loan-takers.
    How do we do to achieve this in actual practice?

Volunteering for development

We have an expression in Action10: “In Action10, we do not volunteer to volunteer, we commit to volunteer.” The reason is that Action10 raise hope among the poor, we raise hope within vulnerable communities. Ation10 is important and people look as us for help. If we as a team raise hope and then do not deliver, then we break hearts among those who are already week. It is the same as agreeing on taking on an assignment in Action10 and then choose to NOT deliver and to NOT inform about the decision to not deliver. The consequence is obviously that that assignment will not be done and thus Action10 cannot deliver to those who put hope in us. So being a volunteer in Action10 is a serious matter, a commitment. As soon as anyone decides to step down, or to be inactive for a period of time, it is mandatory to tell us about your decision. We are super proud of EVERY volunteer staff member. We expect everyone to deliver as agreed.


Cecilia states: I find it heart-breaking when crowdfunding sites requests donations for a time bound type of support like food for a month. Then what… when this month is over…. If the people working on this site knows poor people are that hungry they need help with food for a month, and push for donations while at the same time take some of that donation for themselves, it is according to me the worst type of corruption. So, for our ActionInvest crowd-funding site it should be an honest win-win approach. It cannot be driven by pity. Pity destroys. Anything that is driven by pity will go under with time. But rather cross-cutural awareness raising to bridge the transformation from aid dependency to equal partnership.

HR&S informed decisions

We build our operations on the reflections that 60 years of enormous amounts of aid money has not helped the poor but the number of extremely poor people in Africa is still increasing. This proves that poverty reduction is a very difficult task. This difficult task requires professional institutions.

Return on investment

We have invested a lot already, in six countries Sub-Sahara African countries. Our niech is equal partnership social enterprises, offering products and services providing social good, while in parallel ensuring a sustainabe economy.
But we have lost much too. Maybe we have the wrong strategy.

In some instances we suffer from the lack of rule of laws. Institutions to turn to, if agreements are broken.
We also suffer from what we call “the aid attitude”,
i) that investements may be considered donations rather than business investment that evenutally shall generate a joint profit despite written agreements, and
ii) weak accounting and transparency.

Customer segment

Lesson learned. We have come to the conclusion after evaluating various indirect CSR platforms that it is too much work, far too little money and also really uncertain. At the same time, all these indirect platforms indicate that there are opportunities.
Informed decision. HR&S shall do not engage in indirect CSR activities, we invest in DIRECT CSR instead.


Testimony_RISE team-leader

“Thanks Cecilia., You’re the real leader. And working with you can only transform into good behaviour.
You’re transforming the Africa. My hope is that we the concerned people take it as benefits.”