Educate Tanzania has operated on a no-nonsense business model that is mindful, responsible, based upon authentic partnerships, calculates costs, thinks through outcomes and adjusts course based upon indices from evaluation and accountability. The oft-criticized and stereotypical model of “doing for the poor” was never the way ETI conducted its business.
At inception and with no track record in 2010, it was critical to stay true to a model that insisted upon genuine, authentic partnership with a developing district and its communities; a model built upon “doing with” rather than “doing for”. In large and important ways, ETI’s success has been determined by adherence to:
- No quick fixes.
- Never doing work that can be done by the developing community. Employ local labor.
- Never supplying goods that can be purchased in the developing community. Buy local.
- Never imposing ideas no matter how great or well-funded they are.
- Partnering with morally upright, respected, industrious, visionary community leaders.
- Rigorous assessment of the needs and priorities of people in the developing communities.
- Collaboration and mutual goal-setting based upon community’s prioritized needs.
- Subordinating self-interests to the needs of those in the developing community.
- Leveraging expertise and resources that don’t already exist in the developing community.
- Calculating costs.
- Evaluation and holding all partners accountable
- Reinforcing achievements and celebrating together.
- Growing in partnership distinguished by character, caring and competence.
Principles such as these are growing more mainstream, and ETI embraces the emerging perceptions of healthy charity. Books such as “When Helping Hurts” (Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert) and “Toxic Charity” (Robert D. Lupton) have done much to promote approaches that lead to interdependence and independence in developing communities, and are in alignment with the ETI model.
It is an honor to work with donors and supporters who want to impact developing communities. Not with influence gained by bringing developing communities on board with their own entrepreneurial ideas, but instead who subordinate themselves to the ideas and intentions of the people of the developing communities. This is no small thing and many good-intentioned people just plain ‘don’t get it’. But ETI takes no shortcuts and does not take trust with our partners for granted. The results? A decade of consistent transformational investments that have empowered the entrepreneurs and dreamers –women and men of the developing communities in Karagwe, who in turn, are making and will continue to make – their own transformational investments.
“The dreamers must be connected to the resources that provide nutrients to give those dreams life.”
Robert D. Lupton, Toxic Charity