Link, learn, laugh
The key to fostering collaboration between grantees
When you’re giving grants to support marginalized and discriminated groups across two continents, the fact that there are similarities and learnings that can be cross pollinated cannot be ignored. Voice, an organization that works to increase access to productive and social rights and services, was no exception. To them, linking and learning quickly emerged as a powerful tool as it would help them connect similar advocacy and organizations beyond geographical borders. This would allow all parties involved the opportunity for growth, networking and, sometimes, solutions to problems that had long refused to go away.
It was with this in mind that Voice reached out to Busara, Advocacy Accelerator and Lightbox Africa to work with their grantees in Kenya and Tanzania The task was simple: create safe and inclusive spaces for grantees and target group members to exchange knowledge and experiences, document their success stories and develop inclusive and innovative solutions to catalyze transformative change.
This thinking and collaborative effort led to the The Paza Festival, a key part of which were the paza talks. The Paza talks brought together all Voice partners to share their success stories. They were pivotal in enabling grantees to share key learnings and success with each other. FUWAVITA — Furaha ya Wanawake Wajasiriamali kwa Viziwi (Happiness for Deaf Women Entrepreneurs) — who are primarily involved with increasing capacity to participate in electoral politics at local and international level amidst deaf people, had started a leadership program for deaf women from Morogoro and Dar Es Salaam in 2019. Because of the local and international media that was present, they were able to bring their work to the attention of a broader audience.
‘We have been able to connect with the Mental Health Association in Tanzania to advocate for the observance of the day with the Ministry of Health in Tanzania. The ability to link and learn with TINADA so far has been a blessing for TEWWY and the mental health movement in Tanzania.’
Some organizations, like TINADA, a youth organization from Kenya, and TEWWY(Tap Elderly Women’s Wisdom for Youth), a Tanzania based NGO geared towards the elderly, took full advantage of the opportunity to begin collaborations. Using online approaches such as WhatsApp and Skype, both organizations managed to share their experience tackling mental health challenges and learn about the gaps in their advocacy efforts. This collaboration led to the push for the observance of mental health awareness day in Tanzania as well as the application of the Regional Empowerment Grant by Voice.
Key learning points from the linking and learning process include the importance of mindful inclusion in linking and learning. It is important to appreciate the fact that different grantee groups advocate for different interests. As such natural development of collaborations among grantee organizations is the only way to ensure that collaborations are in the organization’s best interest. Also worth noting is that different grantees are at different stages of development any environment created should enable more-established organizations to encourage the small and upcoming grantees.
Despite all the benefits that come with linking and learning, fostering it, especially when grantees are in two different continents, can be expensive. Using modern methods like webinars, WhatsApp groups and, maybe, even customizing a platform for this particular purpose would go a long way in enabling grantees to find new and innovative ways to tackle the problems they face.