BUSINESS MONDAY: NGOs urged to change business format


NGOs need to change the way they approach business. This was the call from, Rodney Grant, CEO of Pinelands Creative Workshop, Barbados.
At the  Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) Barbados Civil Society Forum last week at Hilton, he contended, that NGOs need to look at alternative means of funding because the old ways of project writing and sourcing monies from projects are on the way out.
“Donors and governments have less money to give and therefore it was always our intention for Pinelands to find alternative means of funding,” Grant said.
According to him, “We would have gone through several businesses but some would have had their challenges but we would have also learnt a lot of key lessons from those experiences.”
 Grant said that they were able to take the key lessons and use them to their advantage in terms of the last two operations they would have done which was to do with housing, which was a joint partnership with the NHC and their bicycle program. 
“One of the key things that we would have learnt through our journey is that you can’t ever outsource all of your investment to external persons and you have to be able to maintain some form of control over your investment. You must also be able to do the continuous updating of the internal capacity of the organization to train your staff …”
Grant recounted, “When we really negotiated the joint contract with NHC people questioned how a cultural organization could be building houses and I believe that a lot of NGOs think that way …The inspiration came to me when I made a trip in 1997 to Chile. I thought if you have Latin America NGO delivering these critical services to people why is it we determine that only a private sector can build roads and houses, we are citizens and we have the right to negotiate whatever kind of business investments we want to be in ….”
“This is something that civil society should think about because the challenges are great and you have to be able to make your money because a lot of the donor funding does not support operations and administrative cost.”
As CEO of Pinelands , he also highlighted, the creative industry has potential.  He believes , “ It can be one of the answers for us going forward as a country, as a country we cannot continue to just stand on one leg on Tourism as our main economic earner,  as we are aware Tourism is a vulnerable sector. We are behind in terms of meeting out an alternative economic strategy, we should have been there a long time ago. 
“I believe that the creative industry can be one of those significant earners but it will take time. Crop over is a significant earner  but to get where we want to be in terms of creative industries will take significant investment in terms of the talent and product that we want to take in the future. The investment needs to be made now to reap the benefits of this sector …” (NB)

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