Lessons learned & informed decisions
Within the planning and evaluation tool that we use (ROPE), learning lessons and taking informed decisions is key.
HR&S is a creative and innovative social enterprise seeking solutions to complicated questions. While we move forward nicely we also make mistakes. We actually give ourselves room for making mistakes, as long as we learn from them and take informed decisions; mistakes shall not be repeated, shall only happen if they could not have been avoided, and if someone has suffered as a consequence of an HR&S mistake, we shall ask for forgiveness and repair any damage that we may have caused.
With the above in mind it is obvious that “lessons learned and informed decisions” is key to the HR&S operations.
HR&S can also be seen as a peace building effort. People across cultures meet to build strong supportive relations focusing on joint mutually beneficial scientific research, social enterprising and sustainable development.
“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.”
Narrative – Draft
We build our operations on the reflections that 60 years of huge efforts and enormous amounts of aid money did not reduce poverty, but instead the number of extremely poor people in Sub-sahara Africa is increasing every year. It can be concluded that poverty reduction is a very difficult task, and that it requires professional institutions.
Our niche is equal partnership scientific research, innovation and social enterprising that offers products and services providing social good, while also ensuring a sustainable economy. We seek sustainable impact.
- HR&S has invested a lot of work effort and more than 1 MSEK (EUR 100,000) as business loans during our thirteen years of operations, 2009 – 2021, in eight Sub-Sahara African countries. But the truth is that we only see a limited amount of evidence based sustainable impact and we have only been able to collect back a limited amount of the loans given out. Thus we do not have good enough procedures to achieve sustainable impact.
(We do have had excellent impact (but not sustainable impact), and we claim that in terms of return on investment, we exceed that level of impact usually achieved by the traditional aid sector.)
- In some instances we suffer from the lack of rule-of-law and lack institutions to turn to, if agreements are broken.
- We also suffer from what we call the “help-me mindset”, where we assume the aid sector will find the solutions.
- Business loans may be considered donations rather than business investment that shall be paid back.
- Weak accounting
- Weak transparency.
- As our aim is evidence based sustainable impact, we are always cautious with learning lessons and take informed decisions and by doing so we always upgrade our operations and improve our achievements.
LL & ID
The help-me mind-set_Testimonies from Kenya
“They do not help themselves and they do not help their communities, reason being that we have created a pattern that ‘you are my brother or my sister, so you should help me’. This have led to that communities have become used to receive hand-outs, because it is always there.
Look back in history
HR&S will learn from the history in Sweden, when the society was supported by the Swedish government to “bli din egen lyckas smed”.
- All funds give out as loans are paid back.
- Progress markers are met.
- Sustainable impact is achieved.
Status 2009 – 2020
- Only on tiny fraction of loans paid out was paid back.
- 30 % of the loans were paid back during 2021.
Paying back loans and deliver results according to agreement
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 Branches 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.
The role of NGOs_ Testimonies from Liberia
When inviting many NGO’s in Liberia to the webinar on “Global development and international investment”, the responses were:
- Many people expressed their interests in the training.
- To pay has remain one issue.
- Their choice of interest. Some have interest in training around procurement, logistics , proposals writing, M&E, reports writing, strategic plans development and similar issues.
- The NGOs wants to be trained on topics to 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.
- If people focus of training is to serve the aid industry. Who shall the serve the people of the country?
- This is an expected approach by the NGOs under the circumstances as Liberia right experience extreme economic hardship and things are moving backwards for a lot of people.
- The mistake is obviously not with the people but with the aid industry.
- The aid industry develops a relation with the NGO´s and not with the people.
- The institutions that can actually reach the poor, the social enterprises, do not get the attention of the Aid industry.
- As a result of the Aid industry relations, the NGO´s have the opinion that service should be provided for free, which generates yet another hindrance 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.
Outcome challenges – loans are not paid back
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.
After money is transferred, then it may be lost
Testimony: ” You can meet with them as was done from the beginning, but it can in no way change their traditional norms. To be real, they will wholeheartedly embrace us, but they think differently thereafter. Many of those people believe in giveaways.”
Lesson learned: “Many believe in giveaways”, but after receiving the money they are of the opinion that they have no obligations towards the giver or to any agreement with the giver. To them it will be their money and they can to want they want with them.
Reflection by the CEO: This would not be a problem if receivers of aid money use them as they want, if this method would reduce poverty and eradicate extreme poverty, the official purpose with aid money. But it has been found not to be the case. Now that HR&S proposes an alternative, social enterprising instead of donations, and if the partner is of the opinion that they have no obligations towards the collaboration, obviously HR&S will fail totally.
Informed decision: i) Partners to HR&S will be carefully, carefully selected. It will not be a wide programme when it comes to investments, but a very narrow programme. Potential RISE members will have to have a certificate from a HR&S SfC webinar, intrinsic motivation and agency for change. ii) HR&S webinars have to be paid for by local institutions, at least co-funded, so that the programme is integrated nationally. iii) Participants of webinars also pay small, to filter for intrinsic motivation. iv) Before receiving a new or scaled up loan the RISE member has to pitch during an RISEtalk and an ActionTalk, v) loan-takers have to actively attend RISEtalks.
Discussing the Strategy for Change with partners
Cecilia states: I will take them through everything concerning the HR&S Strategy for Change during meetings. 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 to have a team that delivers. I understand what the aid industry has created. It is time for a transition. But only very few people are interested in change.
Partner ONE 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.
Identifying the outcome challenges
When we ask our entrepreneurs and our researchers what they need, both answers money.
When we provide money this does not always enable our partners to reach their ambitions.
So we need to identify also the other outcome challenge(s) that we have.
What do we suggest are the other outcome challenges?
For every outcome challenge that we agree on, we shall have an activity to remove the problem.
We depend on partnership at several layers
It seems HR&S cannot deal directly with businesses in marginalised communities. The risk is high that they will not pay back a loan. We may need to always go through educated local people, who connects to a social entrepreneur from the community.
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.
The help-me mind-set_ Testimonies from Kenya
“They do not help themselves and they do not help their communities, reason being that we have created a pattern that ‘you are my brother or my sister, so you should help me’. This have led to that communities have become used to receive hand-outs, because it is always there.
Look back in history
HR&S will learn from the history in Sweden, when the society was supported by the Swedish government to “bli din egen lyckas smed”.
Replace Social enterprising with for profit enterprising for social good. The purpose being to emphasize that this is not aid.
Address all stakeholders as in “the development equation”: The investors, international partner (HR&S), regional Country HR&S, PMP and TP.
Transparency, Accountability & Efficiency
Cross-cultural understanding & respect
LL: The Outcome challenge has to be defined, activities identified and milestones implemented. Cecilia’s take right now in 2021 is that the outcome challenge is that stakeholders do not understand each other, do not connect and do not mutually respect each other.
ID: Cecilia’s Activity proposal is that partners meet across cultures and discusses concrete businesses. 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.
- ActionTalks. Monthly events (1st Wednesday of the month, evening). We can even occasionally invite the aid sector to learn from us. RISE members pitches their businesses concerning upcoming requested loans.
- RISEtalks. RISE members have meetings.
Lesson learned is that we need to have a procedure for arranging these meetings. It is obvious that it is key that all RISE members attends and that they attend with powerful internet connections.
-It can be efficient to agree on the same time every month. In the beginning we may want to do every second month, but when we are up to speed we will have RISEtalks every month.
-It would be good with a presentation from us and then a presentation by the RISE members. Topic of the meetings i) Accounting and auditing response.ii) Evaluation planning and impact survey data. iii) Business management and business plan outcome. Each RISE member pitch concerning the upcoming requested loan.
– RISEtalks are guided by the agreements signed, including the SfC and the output constitutes lessons learned and informed decisions that will contribute to the annual reports.
– Monthly events (2nd Wednesday of the month, evening).Team-leaders and deputies from all Branches meets and compares Branch SfC.
– BranchTalks are guided by the agreements signed, including the SfC and the output constitutes lessons learned and informed decisions that will contribute to the annual reports.
- CSRevents. HR&S Sweden presents our SfC and RISE members pitches their businesses to the private sector. Professionals within the private sector provides advice related to their profession.
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 transparency and accountability towards each other.
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: 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.
Understanding the situation
Lesson learned & Outcome Challenge: Research on economic issues relating to developing countries is led predominantly by researchers based in the global north. Although many studies focus on countries or regions in the global south, researchers based there have been vastly under-represented in the literature for decades.
Informed decision and Activity: Meaningful collaborations can end this ‘helicopter research’. Also, empowering our work with strengthening scientific capacity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Testimony: ” I don’t completely agree with him when he says that we are 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 business. Then threw his hands in the air, trying to run away from the repercussions”.
Lesson learned / reflection by CEO: It is important to consider the view that HR&S is trying to use a partner as a puppet fro our own programmes. I would assume that this is in a way true for many donor driven programmes 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 the local entrepreneurs 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.
Is it an obligation to donate?
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.”
Needs & User driven approach
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.
Testimony: “What I lack most is money, please bring me a loan and I will pay back as soon as I can”.
Reflection by the CEO: There seems to often be a conflict in the perception 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 urgently used to address urgent needs. The receiver seems to see this as a patronising attitude, both if it is diaspora or if it is a foreign donor. That accounting in it self may be seen as patronising or disrespectful, as a sign of mistrust. Request for formal accounting can maybe be seen as disrespectful between individuals, but not within 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. Use very clear agreements with progress markers and bring these agreements to the RISEtalks and compare progress markers between RISE members.
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.
Our support may be seen as a sabotage
Testimony: “Considering doing business that will sabotage investment made by the locals will definitely be a challenge. Many of those people believe in giveaways. But even if it’s free, they’ll also see it as a sabotage.”
Lesson learned: A proposed programme may be seen as sabotage, maybe to traditional norms, something that HR&S may not know and the receiver of the money will not inform about.
Informed decision: i) To ensure that the sabotage aspect is not there be care careful to honour ActionONE Needs & User driven interventions.
Listen…we repeat many times…Listen
by Branch Uganda Team-leader 2022
- It is an unwise to attempt to offer solutions to a person in need. It is better for the solutions to come from the person themselves.
- It is better to support individuals who have business experience, who have started and are trying to make a business grow. These people have an internal motivation to ensure success of their enterprise and therefore appreciate value for money. Such people are more likely to be responsible than those who are not actively engaged in a business. They are also not likely to make business mistakes usually made in startups for example.
- It is better for HR&S to collaborate more with organizations who have no history of working with the Aid industry. We can form a parallel narrative.
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.
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.
Reimbursement of Local Branches coordinators
“In 2020, I was aiming for reimbursing the coordinators of programmes benefitting from ActionInvets support through the ActionInvest capital. This showed to be impossible for three reasons. i) We tended to attracted team members focusing on the reimbursement and not the progress markers. Such team-members may or may not show up at monthly meetings, did not take initiatives and did not deliver support to the ActionInvest programme entrepreneurs, which was the purpose of the reimbursement. It seems we attracted team-members who saw HR&S as a opportunity to get money and not as it should be, an opportunity to introduce a sustainable change that will support the team and the programmes long-term. ii) As a result off team-members not being active and guiding the social entrepreneurs on the HR&S mission, the loans paid out to social entrepreneurs was not paid back. The obvious consequense was funds was lost in paying reimbursement for expected support to loan-takers that did not happen, and the capital to be given out as loans was lost and thus also the expected creation of a sustainabel social enterprise as well as the expected income from the interest and the RISE Centre membership fee was lost. It was like all the money that Action10 had been sweating to fundraise, was eaten at once and nothing remained to create a long-term sustainable structure. iii) This also saddened the financial donors of Action10 and the Action10 volunteer staff, who without being reimbursed worked hard to generate funds to make the support for the programmes sustainable, and the source of the funds for ActionInvest was challenged.
Entitled to aid donations???
It has been proven in the scientific literature that scams from Africa targeting Europe and North America is frequent, big volume and scaling (2022). The scams concerns business frauds and love relation frauds.
Reflection Cecilia (March 2022): The scammers in Africa seems to feel entitled to the money in Europe. It is important for HR&S to understand why they feel entitled. Arguments heard are; i) due to the previous colonial and slavery time it is time to pay back, ii) Europe has endless of money and it is easy for them to support us, and iii) they steal our natural resources when they buy at too low price so scamming is a way of paying back.
These reasons for entitlement can be politically debated and arguments for and against can be endlessly raised. Fact remains that aid donations has been provided at large since 1960. In 2022 OECD only, donated USD 160 billion, while at the same time the number of extremely poor people is increasing with several million people every year. Thus, the funds donated are not invested in a manner that secures sustainable development development. Looking in the arguments above it can be assumed that the investments lack transparency and accountability from both Europe and from Africa. An alternative, potentially successful solution is the HR&S shift of paradigm.
We do not want to work with you actually
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.”
Reflection CEO: These is very important to understand and consider in all operations. It leads to that it is impossible to help someone who does not want help. The capitalistic way with investing and scaling businesses for mutual benefit, is not what the above referred to community believes in, but it should be possible to track down certain individuals that after some time collaboration will agree with that this is a way out of poverty.
Informed decision: Mutual trust and truth is key, and an excellent strategy for change.
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.
“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.”
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 if they have not been requested to deposit collateral. (A collateral is a property, such as securities, pledged by a borrower to protect the interests of the lender.) 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, that is reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement.”
Testimony CEO: We have tried to implement RISEtalks during March & April 2022 at Branch Kenya. But the RISE members did not appreciate the effort. One RISE member claimed the person was uncomfortable discussing the person’s business in front of other RISE members. With some reflection, it can maybe be understood, that it may come as a surprise.
Informed decision: We add RISEtalks and ActionTalk pitching to the contract.
Lesson learned: It seems that one of the consequences of the absence of rule of law, is that even though we develop and sign agreements, it is like these agreements never existed.
The reflection by the CEO 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.
Informed decisions: If this is the case, then we have to make a plan.
As the tradition of working with agreements is fragile, we need to put effort in developing very clear agreements and to go though them properly. Maybe have two sections, one with the key aspects and an appendices with the legal more complicated texts. Then we have to follow up on if the agreements are honoured, this can preferable be done in open meetings with the other partners; thus in RISEtalks and Team-leader monthly meetings. The 1st section of the agreements can follow the SfC road map and then progress markers can easily be reported on. We have two types of agreements, between HR&S Branches and HR&S Sweden as well as between HR&S Branches and RISE members.
The way we present our partners in social media
Reflections by CEO: We do not do pity and we only do coaching related to our professional expertise.
- 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 also 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, we only do coaching related to our professional expertise in order to avoid a patronising attitude.
Cross-cultural understanding within a country
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.
Lesson learned: 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.
Informed decision: HR&S therefore depends on establishing teams of members with cross-cultural skills. The CEO decided to remove the terminology “coaching” from the Branches and replace it with training. We shall also only give training in areas where we have professional eduction.
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.
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.
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.
Managing logistics and time
Testimony CEO: It seems we are not used to managing logistics with good time management. Such as arranging meetings and trainings.
Informed decision: HR&S shall take a lead and give away as much responsibility as possible. We need someone in HR&S to be assigned for this, not the CEO. HR&S can provide training for the Branches on this, it can be done during the Team-Leader monthly meetings (LeaderTalks).
Equal partnership / Stakeholder analysis
Reflection by CEO: Equal partnership includes that both partners are actively engaged in the success of the other partner.
ID: Thus, HR&S can develop equal partnership agreements with individuals at relevant institutions with interest, power, intrinsic motivation and agency for change.
HR&S Sweden Webinars
Lesson learned: Stand-alone low cost webinars for Target partners (researchers, technicians, social entrepreneurs and sustainable 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 low or zero.
– Short webinars: HR&S Sweden provides short versions of stand-alone webinars without examination and certificates targeting the HR&S team and RISE members free of charge. The purpose is in to train our own team members and to add value to the RISE membership fee. RISE members presents their road-maps during RISEtalks. We also invite others, who pays small, for the sake of visibility and marketing purposes as well as generating income to local Branches. These events take place during one week; Mon, Wed, Friday, two hours per day, thus six hours.
– Full webinars: Two week sessions with examination and certificates are only delivered when requested by and paid for by Institutions. Then the institution manages the invitations, ensures internet capacity and access to computers and keeps track of the participants.
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.”
Praise who is to be praised
Reflections by CEO: When communicating 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 farm, 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.
Russia is at war with Europe – March 2022
Reflection Cecilia: The situation also calls for a reflection. The type of partnership that manages challenges for both partners is a win-win. It cannot be a giver and a receiver. We are now aware of the Russian aggression and every European country will empower its military capacity. It is likely that funds will be taken from the aid budget. What if aid was not just that, AID, but a mutually beneficial partnership?
HR&S HQ_ Customer segments
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 they are opportunities.
Informed decision. HR&S shall do not engage in indirect CSR activities, we invest in DIRECT CSR instead, unless it makes real sense to us. We will engage in visit.org and ensure our needs are respected while delivering beyond expectation to the customers.
Institutions in SSA
Lessons learned: Institutions in SSA are not willing to pay for training events offered by HR&S. Even though they claim they would like to have the training, they expect it to be free of charge.
1. We will focus on the SfC training for Institution managements to present the reason for why they shall also cover costs training events for their researchers and technicians.
2. We do targeted campaigns towards institution managements.
Coordinators and trainers instead of coaches
Testimony, Cecilia Jan 2022:
“It seems that using the assignment coaches does not suit our RISE members. The RISE members may be of the opinion that the Branch team members may for example not necessarily know about the realities in under-served communities and are thus not able to act as coaches.
Informed decision: We replace the assignmet title coaches with coordinators or trainers from 2022″
Institutions in SSA
Testimony: Women’s Alliance for Development (WAD) project to advocate for women rights and economic sustainability in Bukedea. Just like in many rural communities in Uganda, land rights are a preserve of the male dominated patriarchy. These leaves women in a situation of economic dependence where all proceeds from their hard work on the land is governed by men. The recent succession Act is seen by men in such communities as a direct threat to their dominance leaving women to be seen as enemies instead of allies, a recipe for increased cased of gender-based violence. In Bukedea, women sun seed farmers are at a high risk of abuse from their spouses as well as the community if no sensitization efforts in place. At HR&S, we stand for sustainable economic development through equal partnerships by enhancement of local social enterprises. We believe this is the best way to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and we fully support initiatives such as that presented by WAD.”
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 or non-existing. Thus, stakeholders from SSA with an aid mind-set are considered customers only, not equal partners.
Crowd-funding sites cannot benefit a business. The Site itself will charge minimum 15% and expects to sell projects without administration costs, or the admin costs for the supporter will sky-rocket, which HR&S does not agree with. Crowd-funding sites are perfect for Action10.
During initial interactions between HR&S and Scientific institution managements and researchers, the local stakeholders are often eager to explain that they lack funds, training and pieces of equipment. HR&S has reflected on these statements, and claims that it seems to represents an aid “help-me” mindset. Through the ROPE tool has HR&S converted these requests for help into joint activities.
The HR&S road-map phase ONE, builds on the progress marker “submitting two manuscripts per researcher and year” and asks the partners to be precise in explaining what the outcome challenges are, without asking the aid sector to solve their problems.
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 asks “What is the activity” the answer is often “none”.
Lesson learned: The challenge is not “Lack of funds”, the challenge is lack of fundraising activities.
Follow up question: Why are you not engaging yourself is seeking funds? Researchers tend to 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”.
– Develop and manage fundraising committees that meets regularly with effective and efficient meeting agendas. Committee members i) shares assignments, ii) shares knowledge and iii) support each other with developing research grant applications.
– HR&S provides awareness raising on research grant application review criteria and the mandate of grant institutions (not aid institutions).
Access to Equipment
Lesson learned: The challenge is not “Lack of equipment”, the challenge is lack of activities related to ensure access to properly functioning pieces of equipment.
Follow up questions: Why are you not engaging yourself with ensuring access to properly functioning pieces of equipment? Researchers tend to answer 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 the 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 of the researchers asked. The SfC asks further “What is the activity” the answer is often “none, or very little”.
Lesson learned: The challenge is not “Lack of access to training events”, the challenge is lack of activities 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, or providing training events yourself? Most researchers 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 to attend training events”. “I do not know where 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.
Access to literature
– Establish a relation and facilitate communication between librarians and researchers.
Bureaucracy & hierarchy
Testimony: “One problem can be the “system”, that we have to follow protocol. For example, people may not talk in meetings not to offend anyone. Then HR&S can then have a role, and come in as an outsider and talk about that we have a common goal, and we need to listen to everyone to find a solution. There is also a bureaucracy that hinders smooth management. Issues have to pass too many levels. HR&S may, as an outsider, have access to many levels to deliver the messages.”
Lesson learned: Bureaucracy and hierarchy often make progress inefficient.
Informed decision: Involve policy makers in the strategy for change.
Responsibility in relation to laboratory 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 it comes to methodology application. Technicians are the diagnostic team and advisers concerning procedures of testing the samples.
Reflection by CEO: Actually, the availability of technicians in unfavourable when researchers are seeking research grants, the grant givers notice that the real work is not done by the applicant. Sometimes the technicians are not even mentioned in the publication. Imagine that for example 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 embarrassment for the researcher.
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 purpose…. 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 and I feel is so embarrassing to tell you; my 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 accused of 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. It can be noted that the person giving the testimony, moved to another country to do the research.
Reflection by CEO: WHY are local stakeholders sometimes teaming-up against a funding partner? Do we have a joint understanding among local stakeholders that Europe deserves to be met with poor accountability accountability because Europe is rich as a result of Africa being poor. If we want to find ways to change this attitude 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 instead appreciate 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 working towards a shift of paradigm.
Work with change makers
different will come with a friction.
-We can find people who want to make a change and be self-driven but the system will swallow them up. With time they may give up. We will try to bring those person with an mind for change to join HR&S. Maybe we can use social media more to find the change makers.
– for strengthened scientific capacity
Reflection CEO: 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.
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.
Informed decision: 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 behaviour 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.
Expectations By 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, and little or no guidance on how to seek funds.
– 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. In addition, a significant amount of the research grant may be kept by the scientific institution administration.
Informed decision: Alway do coaching through the Institution management, and never directly with the researchers, to break this tradition.
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.”
Informed decision: HR&S offers to be a counsellor for ladies who wants to talk. HR&S can also act as a whistle-blower in a efficient manner. Not seeking conflict or shaming but a solution only, in a respectful manner to everyone involved.
Access to advanced pieces of scientific equipment
Lesson learned: The challenge is not “Lack of equipment”, the challenge is lack of activities related to ensure access to properly functioning pieces of equipment.
Follow up questions: Why are you not engaging yourself with ensuring access to properly functioning pieces of equipment? Researchers tend to answer one or several of the following: “I do not know which piece of equipment I need”, “I do not have a research plan that explains which type of equipment that I need”. “I do not have the funds”, “I am not seeking research funds to procure equipment nor consumables”. “I do not have the time”, “I am waiting for the management to sort it out”. The pieces of equipment in my laboratory is broken down.” “I do not know what to do to get involved with ensuring access to scientific equipment”.
Informed decision: Link key stakeholders to the HR&S Laboratory management programme (FAST). i) network among technicians, ii) empower fundraising committees, iii) develop service & maintenance strategies.
Testimony: “Some of us have been wondering and looking waiting for higher authorities approvals on status of our labs and equipment but you have open our eyes and heart to network for solutions.Thanks 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.
Involving the Institution management
Reflection by CEO: 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.
Savings rather than debt
Testimony: 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.
Informed decision: 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 may decide to have no interest and no costs.
Lack of Rule of law
Reflection by CEO: Corruption combined with, or as a result of, 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.”
Risks for patronising interpretation
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 is wise to liquidate our relation with HR&S without further dishonour. We also advise that since there shall be no further unity between the two entities that you may stop using our brand name.”
Reflection by CEO: 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 must be perfect. ii) Do not give loans where only donations are appreciated.
Informed decision: Develop and maintain high quality manners of communication, both in terms of cross-cultural respect and efficiency.
Small businesses in under-served communities
Testimony Edward Butimba Uganda “Edward claims that the women failed to honour their due dates of payment, and when he kept reminding them, they keep deferring him to a later date which he says was frustrating. He also worries that it is like he had created for himself enemies with these women. Some would even hide on the due dates. Edward stresses that the demographics of the choice of the group we are working with (especially income-wise) dictate that they will fail to pay in the long run. He attributes this to the fact that these women will not fail to use the business money in case there is a problem to solve at home, say rent arrears or a sick child, or school fees dues.
Edward is not confident about the success of this or a similar programme in a similar social setting. He says he is not confident of getting another loan because of not only the obligation from the loan provider who insists the money must be paid back but also from his community where he says he has made enemies because of the same. He says he is not comfortable with doing something that will be divisive between his organization and the community. He, therefore, thinks that the single mothers’ small business programme is not viable in these circumstances, but also may not rhyme perfectly with the objectives of HR&S.”
Testimony Moses MURUNGI Uganda “In my opinion, there was no thorough financial management sensitization for the women at the time of acquiring the funds, for example, there was no culture of saving, and/or ability to separate profits from the business, from the operating capital. In addition, there was a lack of a thorough customer survey to guide in choosing the people that would guarantee a high proportion of payment back. There is a need for a more consultative survey before taking the loan. It seems they took advantage of free money (without serious consequences i.e. collateral security).”
Lesson learned: When giving out loans and relying purely on signed contracts and that loan conditions are thoroughly discussed, then HR&S can expect that nothing is paid back, 0%. Due to lack of rule of law there is no authority to turn to.
Testimony by Auditor: Some of the projects that we support fail on accountability, and accountability is key. Reason being that when white people support financially, partners in Africa will consider the support a donation. Therefore, we need to grow our members in relation to accountability, both in terms of the person and the business. Challenges to pay back may be small to start with but can scale with time and make the situation impossible to handle. It is crucial to ensure a good relationship between the HR&S Branches and our Programme Management Partners to openly discuss challenges, before it is too late.
Informed decision: Establishing local branches and accountability communication strategies.
Expected outcome: If the local team and local auditor accept the HR&S standards, acts with internal motivation and regularly interacts directly with the programme management partners in a respectful manner, then a payback of more than 70-100 % is expected.
Small scale businesses in under-served communities
Reflection by CEO
Lesson learned. We have been successful in Togo with small scale businesses as a result of the initiative of a local PMP, but it has taken very many years, a lot of pain and effort, and a lot of lost money. When it is functioning the programme has high impact and is very successful. In Uganda we tried the same and it was not successful on a short term.
Informed decision It will follow ActionONE better is we targeted already established SACCOs that targets business loans, and help them to scale their capital and other RISE Centre support programmes.
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.
- The long-term aspect is key
- Supporting our partner’s own ideas
- Learning lessons and sharing achievements as well mistakes.
- Supportive, active and positive team.
- Cross-cultural awareness raising for changed mind-set.
- Giving people a push to create decent life for the long run
- Not coming with our “what should be done” ideas, but supporting theirs.
- Openly communicating everything, good and bad outcomes.
- Working with other enthusiasts, is a great feeling too.
- 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?
- 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.
It seems crowd-funding sites from individuals are costly. They charge high admin fee to cover their own business costs. Global Giving seems to be fair 15% and they manage due to a value proposition of tax exemption in USA. Team Africa will continue to negotiate with Kwanda and DonorSee as we should be a priority type of partner to them, and may be able to make a good deal. We target 10 %.
Otherwise we may want to target CSR crowdfunding sites instead. Possibly the CSR company itself can pay the admin fee to the crowdfunding site company and let us join free of charge. We shall investigate Softwares platforms: Benevity, YourCause, CyberGrants, Millie, POINT, America’s Charities, Bright Funds for example. We shall probably not get involved with CSR volunteering as Action10, we cannot manage this for now.