Daniel Almeida from CARE's Latin America Regional office warns, "Don't lose sight of the real reason you are doing this work." He's talking about how to do advocacy more effectively in partnership with social movements. Do your political economy analysis, have clear communication with partners, invest for the long term, and expect to fail. He tells teams, "not to expect to have results that are 100% things that they showed in the design." Learn more about this work from the recent paper: CARE International Advocacy and Influencing.
Melch Natukunda from CARE Uganda talks about trying to build the first ever financial services app that linked poor rural women to banks. What's the biggest lesson? "it’s not just financial services. Anything we do should be trying to lighten women’s burden and help her with the other challenges she’s dealing with.” It's also about remembering that, "at a bank, someone is looking at this project and saying, 'is this giving me profit?' That will never happen in 6 months." You need at least 5 years to build something that will really work, but once you've got it, it can work for millions of people.
Episode Francophone:Sandra Georges de CARE Cameroon discute le projet CHAMPS, et la transition de supervision a l'autonomisation. Ils changeaient leur approche de "faire faire" a "faire avec" a "laissez faire". L'approche comprenne la transition graduelle, un changement d'avis sur le partenariat, et la confiance aux communautes.
French Episode: Sandra Georges from CARE Cameroon talks about the CHAMPS project, and how they have had to move from "make others do" to "do together" to "let others do." It involves changing the way we think about partnership, gradually handing over responsibility, and believing local teams and communities about what approaches work best.
Peter Lochery from CARE and Matt Freeman from Emory University discuss how research showed our programs weren't sustainable, and how admitting that failure helped drive innovation and national policy transformation in Kenya. They talk about 13 years of research partnership in the SWASH+ project--and how influencing policy has to be based on a willingness to admit what's not working, and an understanding of entry points and how the system works.
"Fear of failure is the only thing that ensures your dreams won't come true." Hiba Tibi from CARE's Middle East and North Africa hub talks about what they're learning from programs that didn't work, and how they are using those lessons to improve sustainability and scale. A big lesson is that Women's Economic Empowerment programs have to focus on both gender equality AND solid business cases--but many programs only manage one or the other. You can check out more lessons in the recent paper: Bringing Gender Equality Closer to Women's Economic Empowerment.
Camille Davis and Barack Kinanga talk about the challenges of creating savings groups (VSLAs) in emergency settings. Barack works in Yemen, where they have been able to create savings groups, but only by making a lot of adjustments to our traditional model. Not every context works for VSLAs, and it takes longer for people in crisis to build up savings than in development settings. We also have to think about what happens if the people have to move again, and what they need to build resilience.
(English Version) Tell Yourself You Don’t Know Everything: Lessons Learned and Near Misses from 25+ years of VSLA
By popular demand, we've translated the August 1 Francophone episode into English. When CARE first started working with Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) in Niger, we nearly broke the model because we were sure that we knew what to do, and women were wrong. Field staff were afraid to tell us that women were sharing out the money--a practice that is now a cornerstone of a global approach reaching millions of people. Why? Because it went against all of our assumptions about economic empowerment. Dr. Fatma Zennou from Niger talks about how to create a culture where people are not afraid to highlight innovations and the unexpected, where money isn't everything in empowerment, and where we help women put their voices together for change.
Episode Francophone. Quand CARE a commence le travail avec les Associations Villageois d'Epargne et de Credit (AVEC) au Niger, nous avons presque casse le modele parce que nous étions sûrs de notre approche, et que les femmes villageois se trompaient. Les animatrices avaient peur de nous dire que les femmes partagaient la caisse--ce qui est maintenant une pratique cle pour l'approche pour les millions de personnes. Pourquoi? Parce que cela a defie nos assomptions sur l'empowerment economique. Dr. Fatma Zennou du Niger discute la creation d'une espace ou les gens n'ont pas peur de discuter les innovations et l'innatendu, ou l'argent n'est pas tous, et ou les femmes mettent leurs voix ensemble pour le changement.
French Episode: When CARE first started working with Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) in Niger, we nearly broke the model because we were sure that we knew what to do, and women were wrong. Field staff were afraid to tell us that women were sharing out the money--a practice that is now a cornerstone of a global approach reaching millions of people. Why? Because it went against all of our assumptions about economic empowerment. Dr. Fatma Zennou from Niger talks about how to create a culture where people are not afraid to highlight innovations and the unexpected, where money isn't everything in empowerment, and where we help women put their voices together for change.
When it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, the approach is simple: find people who are at risk, test them for HIV, then link them to treatment if necessary. But what happens when the people most vulnerable to the virus don’t want to be found? Sandra Georges from CARE Cameroun’s PEPFAR-funded CHAMP program describes a time when “the usual approach” didn’t work, forcing their team to take risks and make big changes to avoid losing funding.
It's more than a house; we are trying to provide dignity. Sam Okello and Alson Madrar from CARE Uganda talk about all of the ways they tried to build safe and dignified housing for South Sudanese refugees into Uganda. Rainy season, termites, riots, thieves, and hundreds of refugees a day were challenges that the houses couldn't stand up to--literally. Over a year of trials, house after house failed. By working with refugees with special needs to find out what would work, they eventually got to a housing model where 90% of refugees feel safer, and more than 20% cheaper than the original method. See their journey here. Read the project evaluation here.
Failure without learning is final. Otherwise, it's just part of the process. Walter Mwasaa from CARE's SHOUHARDO III talks about how cutting-edge work with youth highlighted gaps in our success metrics and how we hear feedback. Cultivating the art of listening, building acceptance of failure into our culture, and understanding that failure is everywhere are his key takeaways. It's in the smallest details--embrace when people are late, and see how that translates to new ideas.
Everett Harper from CARE's board talks about the role of the leader in learning from failure, taking action to correct problems, and creating psychological safety. Some tools he refers to in creating safe spaces to learn from failure are:
The Pre-Mortem: figuring out failures in advance, then building in mitigating actions before starting the project
Retros: short for retrospectives, a repeated process for projects, teams, initiatives or companies, to open up a blameless, psychologically safe environment for team members to learn, improve and mitigate future risks. For leaders, it is an opportunity to access information and knowledge from people closest to the customer / beneficiary.