ABCD

023, Shanil Samarakoon, Empower Projects| Empowerment as a Community Development Tool

Early in the morning of December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake sent a massive tsunamis along the countries bordering the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. We have talked about this tsunami before, in episode 11 with Gayatri Datar of EarthEnable. In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Shanil Samarakoon of Empower Projects relates his story of the same tsunami, but in this case, from the perspective of his native Sri Lanka where tens of thousands were killed.

Empower Projects uses an asset-based community development approach. You may have heard this mentioned in the interview with Sasha Fisher of Spark MicroGrants. What is interesting about Empower Projects is that they make a five-year commitment to a community before they begin. This allows them to patiently work through the thorny issues of development. They train community facilitators who conduct a vision workshop, gathering the aspirations of the local community. They help the local villages to create inclusive leadership teams, including women. And they provide access to resources such as microfinance and sustainable technologies. In many cases, these villages are leapfrogging older technologies into the 21st century.

Resources:

023, Shanil Samarakoon, Empower Projects| Empowerment as a Community Development Tool

022, Sasha Fisher, Spark MicroGrants | Driving Change Through Empowerment

Where were you on September 11, 2001? If you were more than three years old at the time, there’s a good chance that you remember. Sasha Fisher grew up about five blocks from “ground zero.” At the time, Sasha was in middle school. This event caused Sasha to begin to think outside of her neighborhood, her city and even her country. She began to learn about people around the world who could not meet their most fundamental basic needs.

As a college student, Sasha had a chance to visit South Sudan where she observed a disturbing pattern. Outside aide organizations had started many projects which were not sustained after the aid agencies left. And, the local community was not empowered in the process. Sasha began to think that there had to be a better way.

Spark MicroGrants has worked with 126 villages across four countries in east Africa. Spark supports rural poor communities to design, implement and manage their own social impact projects. They provide microgrants between $2,000 and $10,000 to enable project implementation, such as of a school, electricity line or farm. No interest or repayment of the funds granted is requested.

Does it work? Spark MicroGrants see a 92% sustainability rate for their projects, which is unheard of in development projects. Also, after a community launches the initial project with the help of Spark MicroGrants, the local community launch a second project on their own, showing that they can sustain the process. 97% of the villages continue to stay organized after the initial grant process.

Resources:

022, Sasha Fisher, Spark MicroGrants | Driving Change Through Empowerment