Mary chats with her team in their office. They’ve come out of a meeting with an international NGO about the possibility of working together. She can feel the unease in the air. Nervous excitement mixed with fear and imposter feelings.
Their small organisation has been around for years having incredible impact on their community. They are cherished by their community. And while they often clash with the local government, there is immense respect between them. This organisation knows itself and its role.
But today the usual confidence is missing.
One of the team member’s speak up. “They kept talking about digital this, digital that, collect all this data, attend these meetings, and reports reports reports. I just don’t know if we can do it.” Heads nodded in agreement. There was even a ‘preach it sister’ uttered. She carried on, “I’m not worried about the reports, we can do that. We don’t have time for all their meeting though. And I know we can learn this digital stuff and it could even help us long term, but we need help in skilling up and money for gadgets and all this infrastructure stuff that we don’t have.”
Spontaneous applause broke out. Tension dissipated. The chatter reached new heights. And Mary knew this person was right. They could do this, but they needed help. And for all the talk of localisation that these big NGOs and UN agencies talked about. There seemed to be very little action.
Mary’s story is common place. We talk about localisation, but we don’t want to give up any power. Nor do we want to build capacity of smaller organisations. We talk of digital, but do little to help smaller organisations build their capacity. We seem to expect them to do it on their own.
Maybe it’s time for change?