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NGO’s Business model needs to be re-invented

The Non -Governmental Organisations, which includes Charities, Co-operatives and all other Community Based or so called Non Profit Organisations (NPO), like all other businesses are under great threat of survival.

In Apartheid South Africa, NGO’s delivered services to communities that the government didn’t care about. These communities were in disadvantaged settlements, meaning mostly black townships.

Come the advent of democracy, it was hoped that the NGO’s would be assimilated into government structures and continued their work of serving their once neglected communities. Yes, NGOs are still in the mix in the democracy but are not, even though there is a remarkable collaboration, part of government official structures.

The advent of democracy left the NGOs in a lurch as they continued outside government structures. The work that these NGOs are doing is still needed in those communities and the challenges are getting bigger.

Where do we go, as NGOs, from now. That’s the challenge. THREE Cape Town based Development Agencies are embarking on refining the model of funding the NGO sector globally.

Phandulwazi Educational & Development Center; Space Academy and Business Exploration Company (PTY) Ltd and Think Twice organisation are calling on society to join them on a new venture and journey for the NGO sector.

The move comes after the groups’ experiences during the Covid-19 global pandemic, when the NGO sector was found wanting when those in need the most could barely access assistance from many NGOs locally and abroad.

Of course the funding problem has been around for some decades now and seems to be a problem going into the future unless drastic changes are made. Hence the three groups’ commitment to finding alternatives comes to being.

The three groups believe that the sharing of information, resources and ideas greatly influences the Collaborative Learning & Development model. And if the NGO sector was to adopt such measures a lot of empowerment would come to life as a result.

There is a need to bring new ideas, strategies and systems into the table of how poverty and inequality can be eradicated. But of the challenge is to get NGOs to work together in their
communities and elsewhere to address the social ills affecting their communities. The current NGO funding model and system is broken and unsustainable.

Bringing people, industries, sectors, organizations, institutions etc, in all communities to bounce ideas off each other and plan for implementing projects and programmes to develop everybody in our communities is long overdue.

At the moment the NGO sector in various communities around the world lacks a comprehensive plan that all communities should aspired to achieve. Structures like Community Development Forum are mired in political squabbles lacking funding solutions to the problems facing their communities.

These forums where they exist don’t seek to unite, mobilize, organize everyone in the community to participate and be involved in matters affecting the community. Exclusion rather inclusiveness characterizes the state of affairs in many communities in Africa and the world. To the detriment of our communities. The few run the show, while the majority are not even invited.

And that is why we are looking at a number of projects, programmes and campaigns in addressing the challenges we face in our country; and especially Cape Town with the special focus being on the underserved communities, these are clearly areas that suffer the most from everyday hardships of urban & rural lifestyle due to historical and current imbalances.

We are investing big on enterprise and skills development and the transfer of skills, information, knowledge and resources, promoting networking, participation & involvement and the boosting of capacity building for the business and the private sector broadly.

Research shows that countries like Germany and the Netherlands retired people don’t just sit home and do nothing after they retire. They join Co-Operatives in their communities. That means all the skills, knowledge and experience will not be lost as they reinvest it back to their communities. Imagine this happening in South Africa and the rest of the continent for that matter.

In Africa and elsewhere in the world, the so-called ‘underdogs’ perform miracles daily be it in business, innovation or the creative sector. Most commercial media in Africa is filled with these moving stories of people who come from humble beginnings and have gone on to beat the odds in building empires that are impacting millions of people positively.

At least 400 businesses in Africa make a $1Billion or more in our great continent. That should inspire the rest of us to dig deep some more. We can start small by creating businesses that can uplift society through Co-operatives in cleaning or providing security services. A new business model, where businesses can pay you for bringing more customers to them.

As a society we must constantly strive to build our communities everyday working hand in hand and seeking to support each from all sectors of our society.

Phandulwazi is one of the early enterprises in South Africa to be formed on the basis of the Black economic empowerment (BEE) programme. On this front we call on investors, businesses, industries to partner with groups like Phandulwazi for mutual benefit and to create jobs for locals while these enterprises stand to thrive, an example here are retail giants, Boxer, Shoprite, among others. And community ownership should be around 49 – 51% agreement, subject to negotiations.

We strongly believe that every human being matters, everybody has a story to tell and everybody must be supported to fulfill their God given purposes. That is why we encourage people, organisations, institutions, industries, sectors to engage and interact with us through advice, suggestions, partnerships, donations, proposals, business plans etc, on how to rebuild our society for the benefit of everybody. You can connect with Phandulwazi through our page Phandulwazi KwaLanga on Facebook.

We are reaching out to the public to join us on this journey of re-eventing the NGO Business Model.

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa is Director at Phandulwazi, an award-winning journalist, bestselling author of the children’s book, Kiddies World. He holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the Regenesys Business School.

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