Did you know that there are approximately three thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Trinidad and Tobago? The work that is done by the NGO sector is important due to the host of social issues which plague the country. From sexual violence and poor literacy to treatment of the differently abled and stigma against mentally ill people, most NGOs work extremely hard with little to no resources, tackling a plethora of issues.
For the past five years the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust has invested in the development of the local NGO sector. One way in which they have done this is by hosting capacity building workshops specifically for NGOs, which increase the efficiency and effectiveness of those in attendance. This in turn strengthens the NGO sector and increases the likelihood of sustainability. This year was no different and eighty local NGOs were given the opportunity to learn and network at the 2017 NGO Professionals Seminar, which focused on Social Entrepreneurship for NGOs.
The event which was organised by the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business was well attended and enjoyed. While the focus was on social entrepreneurship, there were other workshops on social media marketing for NGOs, finance and accounting, brand storytelling and grant proposal writing. All workshops were delivered by experienced professionals who were eager to share and not only inspired those in attendance, but gave practical ideas which NGOs could use to increase their online presence, effectively tell their stories, practice transparency and accountability and write clear, detailed and persuasive proposals.
The main address on social entrepreneurship was delivered by Tanushree Luthra of Nourish TT, a local non-profit which aims to alleviate hunger and reduce food wastage in Trinidad and Tobago. She defined social entrepreneurship as the confluence of the ‘good’ intentions of charitable work and the ‘smarts’ of the corporate world. As ALTA Online is ALTA’s first attempt at the ‘fee for service’ model of social entrepreneurship, the ALTA team learned quite a bit at the workshop. The fee for service model entails a social enterprise, in this case, ALTA, selling a product or service (ALTA Online) directly to the public market.
Those present were also treated to an address by Mrs Nichola Harvey-Mitchell of the We Say Y.E.S. Organization, who spoke of the journey she took when starting her NGO. She touched on some extremely important lessons for NGOs, from using a corporate approach to run daily activities, to the need for structure and accountability to ensure transparency, sustainability and efficiency.
Every year at the workshop, the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust also presents an award for NGO Excellence. In 2014, ALTA was the recipient of the award. This year the Caribbean Kids and Families Therapies Organization (CKFTO) was awarded for their stellar work in the provision of therapy and support services to all children in need.
The 2017 workshop was an overall success and ALTA is extremely grateful to have once again benefitted from the investment that the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust makes in the development of the local NGO sector.