Like most non-profit organisations operating today, our communication strategy over the past few years (through social media and other avenues) has seen us predominantly focus on providing you (our wonderful supporters) with updates regarding our on-going efforts, projects, and successes. But in some ways, this approach has neglected to give you the full picture. Indeed, some of you may be wondering what drives Kariega Project's approach? Why do we do what we do? What is the method behind our madness?
The ABCD of what we do:
Our success and innovation is driven in part by building upon an effective and empowering community development methodology known as Asset Based Community Development (“ABCD”). The appeal of ABCD is that, at its core, it dictates that communities drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilising existing, but often unrecognised assets, to create local economic opportunity. ABCD therefore mobilises individuals (community champions), Civil Society Organisations (or CSOs), and informal groups to come together to build on or exchange these assets rather than focusing solely on individual needs. Quite simply, ABCD represents a large and growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development.
ABCD places an enormous amount of importance on local associations as drivers of the community development process. These associations are the vehicles through which all a community's assets are identified and then connected in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness. The importance of this approach is that it builds the social capital of key participants and strengthens social relationships between associations, individuals, and communities. Social Capital refers to features of social organisations such as networks, norms, and trust, which increase a society’s productive potential. It is built on a web of relationships that exist within any given community that allows people to succeed or advance through associating together. Social capital is present in the networks, norms, and social trust inherent in associations whose members work together in concerted collaborative action. In a literal sense, social capital is the store of good-will and obligations generated by social relations.
So how does Kulu Coin push an ABCD agenda?
Kulu Coin is simply a mechanism to connect community assets to one another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness. By "valuing" community assets, we are effectively trying to create a marketplace where community assets can be exchanged and leveraged to build community cohesion and drive development. But Kulu Coin also works because it operates on the back of social relationships that are generated in bringing multiple stakeholders and beneficiaries together to exchange assets and drive a mutually beneficial development agenda.
As subscribers of the ABCD approach, Kariega Project is quite deliberate in its intentions to lead by "stepping back". Rather than designing, implementing, and imposing community interventions in a traditional NGO/community relationship, our primary goal (through Kulu Coin) is simply to facilitate the exchange of community assets. We believe that existing associations and networks (both formal or informal) are the primary source of constructive energy in the community. Since our humble beginnings, this has been proven time and time again.
Kariega Project and Kulu Coin has successfully been operating for three years. To date, we have opted to keep Kulu Coin local to Kenton-on-Sea to ensure a scalable local impact footprint. With just R33,572.00, in 2014, we facilitated a considerable amount of direct impact in the form of early education support, adult IT education, community greening, infrastructure support, and other forms of financial support. On top of all of that, we also facilitated 1007 hours of additional community service. In three years, we have facilitated roughly 2700 community service hours. What is critical to understand is that our success is not simply the product of our efforts, but rather, a reflection of how effective the ABCD approach can be when it finds a welcoming community with motivated community champions and informal groups.
Like most organisations, we are constantly learning and trying to improve our approach. With the help of all our supporters as well as the participating informal groups, CSOs, and community champions, we hope to continue facilitating profound change in the Kenton area.
Please tune in over the next few days to find out about our plans for Mandela Day and to see how you can get involved!!!