Georgina Kwakye: ‘The diaspora plays an important role in local fundraising’
With the Change the Game debate, Vice Versa examines how local fundraising and claim-making can be stimulated. According to actress and presentor Georgina Kwayke, the diaspora should not be overlooked as an important player in this field. ‘The diaspora plays a vital role as an ambassador of development.’
Inspired by her father, a Ghanese doctor who initiated successful development projects in Ghana, Kwayke established the Pimp my Village foundation. The goal of this organisation is to prevent communication problems within international development by supporting the diaspora in the Netherlands.In order to stimulate this is to support development initiatives of the diaspora in their country of origin. In general, a large part of the disposable income of the diaspora flows directly to relatives and friends in the country of origin. However, Kwakye believes that the diaspora in the Netherlands would also definitely be interested in contributing in a more structural way to development in their country. ‘People do not always like to give the money to their familiy, they would also like to contribute to other things’, says Kwakye. ‘They do, however, like to do this in their own way’.
According to Kwakye, this “way” does usually not involve raising money as such. ‘Migrants mainly contribute their knowledge and skills. But, the value of this knowledge should not be underestimated’, she stresses. ‘What the diaspora sees and learns here, they can pass on’. In particular the second generation of migrants finds it important to contribute to the development of the country where their parents originate from.
Pimp my Village is currently working on the project “best of both worlds”, an initiative Kwakye describes as “a novel approach to development”. With the knowledge of the diaspora, this project wishes to encourage local organisations to take matters into their own hands when it comes to development cooperation. ‘This project is intended to teach local organsations how to raise large funds for building schools, promoting community development and healthcare’. One of the examples Kwakye describes is the fundraising activity of a Ghanaian woman in Accra, who annually organises a fashion show to raise funds for a development project.
The main role of the diaspora organisations within the programme is to build a bridge between local knowledge and Western development strategies, for example regarding digital technologies such as fundraising through mobile phones. ‘Everything we do here in the Netherlands with regard to fundraising, people are able to do there too’, says Kwakye. ‘Therefore, we need to collaborate more with businesses and social enterprises. ‘The key’, according to Kwakye, ‘is that people in the South can apply Western knowledge in their own way’. ‘That’s why you need the diaspora, they are familiar with both worlds and can build a bridge between them.’
Currently, the organisation is considering to start the best of both worlds project in Ghana. ‘This is not one of the countries where assistance is most needed. However, Ghana can become a role model of this new approach to development cooperation’, says Kwakye. ‘In Ghana, the middle class has a lot of money and there is great potential to raise large funds locally.’ According to Kwakye the diaspora can play an important role in mobilizing these funds. ‘The diaspora has a whole different approach than Western development organisations. Therefore, it often corresponds better with local needs’.
An important element of the developmental approach of Pimp My Village is to make use of innovative technological tools. On the foundation’s website you can step into a virtual African village and see where the foundation supports projects. By clicking on icon on your screen you can contribute to concrete development projects. When you have donated to a project, you will be informed on the progress and will be sent pictures and videos of the results. ‘We want to explore how we can use this technology on a local level and eventually also for local fundraising’, Kwakye explains.
‘In a country such a Ghana, people like to go along with the latest trends in technology’, says Kwakye. This interest and knowledge of new technologies can be very helpful in local fundraising. ‘People there are highly intelligent and know exactly what they want and need. This potential is not always realized by organisations’, according to Kwakye. ‘With the help of the internet, people can set up their own fundraising activities. One advantage of the internet is that it immediately offers a broad social network.’ Together with local partners, Pimp my Village wants to offer local training on how to effectively apply this technology. The cooperation with local partners should ensure that cultural difference does not cause any difficulties in this process. ‘The training sessions should be organised in a manner that corresponds with the way people think and live, and also with people’s need and capabilities’, says Kwakye.
Internet is not the only medium that Pimp My Village uses. ‘Within our organisation we also focus on the media. We train local journalists to makes short video clips for crowdfunding purposes.’ In addition, Kwakye points out that the mobile phone has the potential to be an important means to mobilize funds. ‘The easiest way for crowd funding is via SMS’, says Kwakye. ‘There are organisations that are already working with this service. Pimp my Village is also exploring how to use this way of fundraising’. Kwakye also sees the need to translate this method of fundraising into something the South can also use: ‘The most important thing is to look at the demand of people there. If there are local students who want to use a particular method, we should use it. Subsequently, these individuals can become ambassadors of your project. You need to carefully set up these projects and once it all goes well you can start to further develop and extend the project.’
In the future, Pimp my Village wants to continue raising funds in the Netherlands, but only for the smaller projects. ‘An example is to use crowdfunding as a tool to raise funds for these kinds of projects. You can buy a medical aid kit for 25 euros, or contribute to the buying of hospital beds or school supplies’, says Kwakye. ‘These are project that do have an impact, but which do not contribute on a national scale’. Large-scale projects of 50,000 euros or more will be carried out by local civil society organisations themselves. ‘When local actors and organisations take on these projects, they will have more ownership and hence more responsibility. To ensure that these projects are being carried out in a context specific manner, it is best to raise funds locally’, says Kwakye. ‘And do not forget the role of the diaspora in this process’, she advices organisations.