We reach out to some of the most poor, fragmented, war-torn communities in the world. Our target communities are at the bottom of all major poverty indices. Households live well below the internationally accepted thresholds for extreme poverty (whether we use the monetary definition of $1.90 per day from the World Bank, or more holistic definitions).
We believe in the capacity of the poor to guide and implement their own development. So what’s the first thing we do? We listen.
For any new partner community, roughly two months are set aside for the purpose of listening, relationship-building, and collaboration. During this period, a baseline survey is conducted to assess the current state of the community prior to Mavuno’s interventions. Mavuno uses its questionnaire to gather data on primary indicators, conducts a statistical and qualitative analysis, and co-creates a report with the community to inform all follow-on activities.
A series of community workshops are held to gather the ideas of local community members, and to identify local leaders and leadership talent. Relationships are also built informally through sharing meals, playing sports, etc. By the end of this phase, Mavuno’s field staff have been welcomed as part of the community, and an initial foundation of trust has been established.
We respect and follow local leadership, and continually listen to our community partners throughout the lifecycle of our programming. This affirms their dignity and value, and it’s the reason Mavuno works.
The communities we work with often exhibit little social cohesion. They are fragmented, and made up of people displaced or affected by war.
We train these communities to organize into locally-led “Grassroots Organizations,” or GOs.
- They elect and appoint their own leaders – a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and more.
- They create their own structure, usually dividing into subgroups of about 3-5 households each. These subgroups provide a mechanism for accountability, foster teamwork for greater productivity, and often double as savings groups.
- They write their own rules and establish bylaws. The GO registers with the government as its own legal entity, which gives it a seat at the table during regional meetings.
- The GOs hold meetings an average of three times per week, and once per week with the Mavuno staff. GO leadership teams from neighboring communities often meet with one another as well.
Once these structures are in place, we pour everything we have into these community leaders until they no longer need Mavuno. We advise them, train them, and equip them with resources. They go through Mavuno’s leadership development curriculum, which covers transformational leadership theory, financial literacy, agribusiness, economics, ethics, and more. Leadership development underpins all of Mavuno’s other efforts.