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Taking the Long View

By

Aleem Jivraj

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2 minutes read

In the private sector, firms that have a stable management team, well-defined and consistent strategy, and take a long-term view tend to deliver higher returns. However, it’s been fascinating to see that many donors, although always well-meaning, do not take this approach. They often focus on short-term outputs and milestones. After all, it can be easier to raise money for an immediate emergency than for an educational program that will take years to transform the future of students. 

As a funder and supporter of many philanthropic organisations over the last decade, the importance of investing long term has become clear. The goals we hope to see are only achievable by taking a long-term approach. For example, young people completing 12 years of quality education or youth living on the margins of society being able to make and sustain a decent livelihood.

I view my philanthropic investments as patient capital and prioritise sustainable growth over short term returns. Beneficiary numbers and tangible outputs are not the only measures of success. It is just as important to build the resilience of community level organisations and to focus on transforming the lives of people. This includes teaching vocational skills, encouraging more gender equitable behaviours, and building self-confidence, all of which require  more time to take root, but enable a long-term ripple effect.

EMpower finds local, high-impact NGOs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Mainland China, and Hong Kong to fund for 10 years, giving them a stable base to work from. By doing so, the NGOs can focus on how to support young people in their communities, not just where their next grant will come from.

The result of this 10-year approach speaks for itself, and we have seen local organisations become more sustainable and resilient as a result. For example, Roots of Health in Palawan, Philippines, grew their organisational budget from USD 98,000 to USD 460,000, an increase of almost five-fold over 10 years. More importantly, Roots of Health was able to impact thousands of young people with life-saving information, empowering girls and women to secure their rights to health and freedom from violence; and supporting and protecting the health and well-being of their families by reducing the incidence of maternal mortality and delaying or preventing unwanted pregnancies. Throughout, EMpower worked closely and symbiotically with them.

This long-term approach is transformational for young people living at the margins and has solidified my conviction in assuming a patient, long-term strategy to invest in young people, their stakeholders and their communities. 

My advice to funders would be to take a longer-term approach with their giving including multi-year grants and unrestricted funding to support capacity building and  management teams. Funders should focus less on short-term impact numbers and project-based funding and more on funding innovation, taking risks and identifying opportunities that can scale up over time.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Aleem Jivraj

COO, Global Markets at Nomura and Co-Chair of the Asia Board, EMpower

Aleem Jivraj is the COO, Global Markets at Nomura and Co-Chair of the Asia Board, EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation. Over the last 10 years, he has been active as a funder and supporter of many philanthropic organisations, particularly in Asia. In this bi-monthly blog he hopes to share his insights into how the skills, experience and mindset of the private sector can be harnessed to achieve sustainable impact over the long term for young people and their communities.

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