When the going gets tough, do not run to another NGO

by aishmishra on Jan 17, 2009      Category: Others Tags: ngo rajasthan self mukhtiar ali sidhar nopa ram kaluji bikaner

A refreshing read that really made my day and gave body to some thoughts that were floating in my mind but needed a real example.

In short: There were three people who were trained by an NGO in Rajasthan in puppetry and puppet-making. NGO cut back operations and these people were left in the lurch. Here is where the story departs from the norm. These three, overcoming their inital disappointment and apprehensions, used what they learnt from the NGO as a foundation to make a wider range of things and are now doing much better. They are very thankful to their NGO for whatever they did for them.

My take on this:

There has been a lot of talk on sustainability of social development activities. A lot of papers have been written and a lot of talk has been happening on this. In this case the normal reaction of the three people would have been to be disillusioned by the turn of events and blame the NGO. Rather in case things turned otherwise, another white paper would have been written on how it was important to have sustainability plan in place for the NGO.

Well, the plan is still required but maybe when formulating we need to study the center of our plan more. The actual people. Somehow are we still not able to get rid of the benefactor-beneficiary mentality. Are we still handling our target audience with kid gloves? Are we not treating them at par with others even after the intervention? Are we subsidizing them in guise of encouraging them?

I think, when it comes to social entrepreneurial ventures, we need to remove the "social" and treat them just like other ventures, at least when it comes to asking the hard questions. Thoughts?

8 users have voted.



parulgupta8ue's picture

Nice article, Aish. Interestingly, I was just reading an essay on antipoverty policy, which I have shared here:

They seem to be coming from a different angle, showing case studies where people at large lack entrepreneurship even given a conducive environment.

Looking at these 2 different perspectives, my early inference is that initiative/entrepreneurship should be given a chance (to find the superheroes as in your article) but not forced. Even in real life, there are only so many businessmen and entrepreneurs .. maybe the rest can do things well only when told what to do.

aishmishra's picture

Agreed. And I am sure you may have noticed that that the three people in my article faced situations which were not conceived as part of the scheme of things by the NGO. Which means that there are many other ways in which the issue can be approached.

Maybe an approach like what parents have towards their children. They try to influence the kids upto an age - rather they try to influence throughout their age - but after a point the child develops intellect of his own and even disagress with the parent if he believes so. The parent in that does not necessarily disown the child but against his/her wish gives a chance to the child. Also, a point to note is....the parents provide the wherewithal to the kid like education, information (beating :-)) but ultimately how the kid's future shapes up is decided primarily by his capabilities, his interest.

Development agencies/organizations should realize that they are not HELPING the other person; they are equipping him to make an informed choice. They cannot dictate their will after a certain point. They need to realize they need to LET GO after sometime

Avikk's picture

Absolutely Right sir. I totally agree with you. I too believe that SUSTAINABILiTy is the major factor for the success of any project but we need to move beyond the benefactor-beneficiary mentality. I am trying to do something new in the field of financial literacy. My Project is called MoneyMatters.

I am a new user of NGOPOST. (AVIk KEDIA)

aishmishra's picture

Hi Avik,

Welcome to NGOPost. How can I know more about MoneyMatters?

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