– Strengthening the women’s health and rights activist ecosystem in West Africa
Twenty years ago, Equipop began working alongside small and medium-sized West African activist organizations dedicated to women’s rights and health. Early on, these partners expressed a need for support in structuring their organizations and adapting to complex operating environments.
Equipop helped provide this organizational and operational support by working with its partners to develop suitable methodologies and tools. Equipop also established a dedicated organizational-development funding stream. Most recently, Equipop collaborated with its partners to create organizational-quality standards, a certification process, and an Organizational Development Quality Seal.
How can we hope to participate in societal changes collectively, in a relevant and effective way, without thinking about the needs of groups that work for these changes alongside us? This question has dogged Equipop over the years as it forged trusting relationships with a large network of activist organizations in West Africa. One partner needed office equipment, another wanted to review its accounting system, yet another required urgent help to retain staff or to rework its activities to better align them with its values. Since funding for civil-society and nongovernmental groups remains almost exclusively destined for projects, not operations, there is little room to solve these kinds of challenges. Few donors or institutions provide support for these kinds of organizational and operational needs in West Africa. So five years ago, Equipop decided to tackle this difficulty head on. First, in 2014, it developed a methodological approach, tools, and training in close collaboration with Alliance Droits et Santé network members. They and other partners involved with the network committed to making continuous quality improvements and three Burkinabe specialists from Equipop provided them personalized technical and financial support. However, some organizations still stumbled when implementing recommendations or actions because of a lack of sufficient resources.
Therefore, Equipop created an Organizational Development Fund in 2019 to finance these needs. In the few months since it was created, the Fund has financed more than thirty organizational strengthening activities.
PEER RECOGNITION AND EXPERIENCE SHARING
Equipop has drawn on its experience with the Organizational Development Fund and participatory governance to create an organizational-quality certification process, thus completing its support system. The resulting Organizational Development Quality Seal will use peer recognition to support the efforts and motivation of groups that have committed to continuous quality improvements. The Quality Seal, a reputation-building tool, allows stakeholders, employees, partners, and funders to recognize the value of a group and its efforts.
A Quality Seal is a way of recognizing the efforts an organization has made to improve itself. Such a certification often serves as a crowning achievement and instills pride in those who made the effort. It rewards the organization’s efforts to improve, recognizes the journey undertaken, and allows the organization and its people to set an objective and see the steps taken to achieve that objective.
Rolland Agbessi – Executive Director of Scoutisme Béninois (Beninese Scouts), Benin