My first meeting with Amina, Amadu and Iddi in Accra in April was tense. They were totally disheartened.
After doing amazingly in 2014, providing 200 girls with scholarships by the end of the year, they were now talking about having to let many of these girls go. It was going to be detrimental and heartbreaking.
Ghana has been hit hard by an economic crisis. Power outages are frequent, upto 22 days out of every month in the slum, paralysing local small business and people’s earning ability.
This had a dramatic effect on Achievers’ local fundraising. For the first quarter it was 65% below budget. As our Jazi grants match the local funding, this has a double effect on funding.
On top of that Amadu, the co-founder and full time director, was suffering from recurring malaria and financial worries due to the low salary he takes and the sharply rising prices, caused by high inflation.
However, we got down to business and, rather than letting ourselves be downcast, started focusing on ways to overcome the challenges.
First came a complete 2015 budget review. The immediate focus had to be on maintaining the 200 scholarships. All other expenditures were stripped out, apart from the most essential operational costs. The result: total costs for 2015 were reduced by around 32%, to €15,750.
Next was a complete review of fundraising. All efforts were to continue on maximising donations from the traditional small local donors, despite the crisis. It was important to communicate openly about the urgent need. However, also new sources were to be explored, such as approaching larger companies to become corporate sponsors, to make up the gap. A new strategy, with clear targets, a strong message and specific requests was set out.
By the end of the week the Achievers had regained the confidence and enthusiasm. They are going to battle hard to make it work. The immediate focus: keep the 200 girls in school. When that is secured: look at continuing to add more!
You can read the two page report of our quarterly meeting and evaluation with Achievers (click here) and review their up-to-date financials (click here), which are already starting to look better. Also, Jazi board member Annet van den Hoek was in Ghana with me and did an evaluation of Jazi’s first year of support of the Achievers. You can read it here (in Dutch). And Achievers was recently featured on CNN African Voices.
It is not going to be easy. But Achievers will make it happen, and come out stronger for it. It’s an honour to be there to support them, not only in the good times, but especially in these difficult times.
If you are already an Achievers supporter, thank you so much. They truly appreciate it. If not, how about it? It costs them less than €50 to help a girl from the slum to go to school for a year. They can really use your help (email us for more information). Or check out their webite: www.achieversghana.org