Encouraging Your Beneficiaries to Take Ownership


Creating dependency among the people you want to help is one of the most difficult challenges that social entrepreneurs and social enterprises face. There’s a fundamental debate, a fundamental conflict with short-term programs that alleviate humanitarian need in the moment as well as the long-term durable solution; and finding out the balance between this humanitarian need and the long-term development of people. This is also a debate that many individuals involved in social responsibility are faced with.

Dependency is Detrimental

I’ve actually seen quite a number of humanitarian programs that have created a sense of dependency because humanitarian relief was really targeted only for a short period of time. However as circumstances elongated, that period of time that was intended was actually stretched out. And as it stretched out, the programs didn’t change, or in some circumstances, couldn’t change. By providing this humanitarian relief for a number of years, it has created dependency and a real lack of self-reliance.

Dependency among a group of people you are wanting to help is a real killer because it creates that desperation in them that you’ve created and creating that means that you got to get out of it.

Micro-Development & Taking Ownership

One of the great ideas that is coming about that removes this idea of humanitarian dependency is the idea of micro-development organisations. Apart from providing just hand-outs of cash, or food, or essential basic needs, while these are important in the short -term, micro-development organisations examine the long term effects of a development program. Micro-development organisations range from micro-finance organisations and institutions, both non-formal and formal community micro-development initiatives. They include micro-insurance organisations which is also a new idea out there. And they also now include micro-franchising ideas.

Micro-development in my point of view is one significant way for the future when it comes to development and management initiatives worldwide. The reason for this is because micro-development works with the people, and it works with them to empower them and to create self-reliance for them.

It creates self-reliance because micro-development initiatives provides the circumstances particularly the financial circumstances such as through a business, or through a loan, or through seed capital, for people to start up their own means of livelihood and through creating their own means of livelihood through skills and through training and with a system in place for themselves, they themselves have ownership of that system and that system can produce a livelihood for them. Whenever micro-developmental organisations are able to move out, it becomes successful because then the people, the beneficiaries on the ground still have that system in place.

Self-Reliance for Long-Term Human Development

Food, shelter, and clothing often diminish after a humanitarian relief program however, creating and helping beneficiaries to build their own livelihood business, or through a franchise or through various saving programs for themselves, it can really empower them.

That’s my point of view of micro- development and micro-development organisations, what’s your view? How has social responsibility been used in your experience?