The Top 100 NGOs.

The Global Journal recently published a list of the Top 100 Best NGOs. The list includes big-name organizations like the Wikimedia Foundation and Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as relatively smaller campaigns such as Movember. While there are benefits to the publication of such a list, there are also certain downsides.

First, the pros of publishing such a list. The Global Journal’s circulation is reported to be 15,350 magazines in 30 countries, a considerable audience. Factoring in viewership on the Internet, readership numbers for The Global Journal are substantially high. What is more important though, is who reads the magazine. Considering the profile of a reader who would pay for a magazine in global affairs (88% of The Global Journal’s circulation is paid), such a list could have a huge impact. The list recognizes the work these organizations do, which could help match them with donors and funding in the future. This push is especially important for organizations that rely on active participation by donors. One such example is Movember. Movember’s funding predominantly comes from money raised during the November campaigns, during which volunteers grow out their moustaches in an effort to raise money for men’s health. Their inclusion on the list only serves to raise awareness about the campaign, which will hopefully add to the increasing number of charitable moustached men in the month of November. Continue reading

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Haiti: Two Years On…

Last Thursday marked the second year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused horrific casualties and damage in Haiti. The reconstruction progress has reportedly been slow on many fronts. However, the expectation for tremendous results in two years in a country that has historically been divided along racial lines and rocked by political conflict is unrealistic and discouraging for development workers.

The outlook on Haiti appears frustrating. With the fate of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) still up in the air, there is no governmental apparatus in place to determine which reconstruction projects will be awarded funds from international aid.

Source: http://www.npr.org

President Michel Martelly, better known as Sweet Micky to the locals, has done little to inspire confidence in the Haitian government. During his short term, his choices for Prime Minister were dismissed twice and he was unable to persuade his Parliament to extend IHRC’s mandate. The unemployment rate remains high at 40.6%, and tent cities remain the only housing option for 500,000 Haitians. Local Haitians complain that international aid is funneled directly to foreign nongovernmental organizations or contractors, bypassing local labor. When government projects are overlooked in favor of foreign firms, Haitians end up losing out as fewer jobs are created locally. Continue reading

Egypt: When Government Fails, CSR Prevails

Tour of the Middle East- Part 3: Egypt

–          This series of posts will take you on a country by country tour of the Middle East, showing how economic and social development occurs in one of the most unstable regions in the world.

Egyptians Rejoicing in Tahrir Square

To say that Egypt is at social, economic, and political crossroads would be an understatement.  The transition from Hosni Mubarak to a new form of leadership has hardly gone smoothly.  Certainly, it is not what citizens who led protests had planned when they initiated their efforts to move the country in another direction.  However, certain aspects of Egyptian life cannot stop in the face of turmoil.  Someone or something has to step up and help the country progress in light of a transitional government.  What has become common in Egypt over the last few years and more defined over the last six months is the rise of private ventures taking on social and developmental challenges. Continue reading

Is Aid Depressing?

Are NGOs doing more harm than good? Todd Johnson, newly returned from Ethiopia, noticed an anti-NGO sentiment spreading among struggling Ethiopian entrepreneurs he met. Johnson cites several examples, such as the Buy One Give One (BOGO) trend, which sends products to developing countries thanks to Western consumers. The hidden cost of this model lies in the fact that BOGO crowds out local enterprise.

He presented his star witness, Sammy, an Ethiopian entrepreneur in Addis Ababa:

“Africans don’t see a reward system in place for being entrepreneurial. In fact, they view it as a matter of survival, not an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. Rather, what they learn at a very early age is that in order to make good money, they should learn to speak English incredibly well and then maybe, just maybe, they can get a job driving for an NGO. In a few years, if they play their cards right, they might be able to land an NGO job as a project manager and even advance further.”

Given this, he continues, how can local businesses compete with the high wages and job security that NGOs offer? Why should they even try?

Continue reading