Thursday, 21 May 2009

Treasure, Transparency and Travel

Sometimes one decides to take the plunge into what might or might not be shark-infested water in the search for buried treasure and to some extent a trip to Uganda carries those risks. Ceris discovered one of her contacts was masquerading as a painter, pretending to have painted a masterwork, in order to claim some royalties on it. Without taking the plunge, the deception might never have been uncovered.

My own objectives were also to try to assess the capabilities of organisations I knew from the UK and decide whether they were capable of implementing DFID projects. My own current focus is the DFID CSCF Funding stream, which seeks to find and fund rights-based projects and clearly as the intermediary organisation I need to be sure that the organisations I work with are credible, before risking UK taxpayer's money in support of them.

I have found over the years that organisations and NGOs are notoriously untransparent, giving every excuse under the sun (some of which may be valid) not to have managed their finances and governance correctly. Moving an organisation from opaque to transparent is absolutely crucial to their development, as well as essential for their credibility, yet sometimes it can take years for this metamorphosis to take place. Strangely too, the organisation actually feels no better after the process, and possibly even bruised, overworked or more stressed than when they started.

It often involves investment - time and money - and a routine, which many people detest. However, one cannot argue with its merits. No opaque organisation can plan their future properly, they do not elicit trust amongst their own managers and they are absolutely unfundable whilst opaque. Even if slightly opaque, an organisation might be turned down, or for a small internal financial system, which carries with it a risk of funder money loss.

Does this process, however, suit the entrepreneur? I suspect not. Getting down to graft, rather than inspiration and creativity, might be an entrepreneur's idea of hell. Most social entrepreneurs too are genuine people with integrity and thus they find it even less acceptable to be accused of potential money mishandling...

So, I ask those in power, those who fund, to consider this fact very closely. Whilst transparency is an ideal, an objective, don't let it beat the soul out of a credible organisation full of people with integrity. Let the process come slowly and surely, not as a rush, just to gain funding.

However, in the meantime, SEA works to DFID rules and transparency is King!

Lastly, once in a while one unearths a treasure, someone who will inspire and develop ones own thought processes to new places and I met someone in Kampala on Tuesday who was at least for that day a kindred spirit. I will tell you about him and his organisation in the next blog...


  1. Would very much like to see some pictures of you amidst the population and enivronment.

  2. I've checked all my photographs to date and there isn't really one which is good enough. My colleague Ceris left for the UK yesterday and should be home round about now, so perhaps she would be kind enough to send me one to post, that she has taken.

    Note too, Troy that I am still on the roleplaying path. I am going to try to incorporate it into some of the early Butterfly Project sessions or simply teach some basic rules to some of the brighter young people that I meet here, to see what their response would be. Interestingly, when I showed some of the miniatures the other day, the response was bewilderment and neither the word "dragon" nor "wizard" was in their vocabulary - interesting, eh?