Lessons from the global NGO experience

Manuel Toscano attended the 59th UN NGO conference in September 2006 and has just shared with me some of the insights he derived from the 100 plus presentations from around the world. In his words,

Last september I participated in the 59th UN/NGO conference here in NYC and recently spoke about it to a study group I am part of at the AIGA. I thought that some of what I found interesting could be also of use to our activities. Below are some significant sentences I extracted from the many presentations I witnessed:

“Start with the individual, build systems from their perspective. Really pay attention, and then see if they can scale."

“Find a people centered approach, diminish fragmentation by empowering people”

“People know better what they need than international or NGO organizations”

“Assist people with designing the future of their own world”

“Sustainable progress will come only when we are able to improve the quality of the basics”

Some came from government representatives, some from UN representatives, and some from the civil society participants. What brings these ideas together is a clear understanding that change at the bottom of the pyramid can come only from user centered design and that solutions are a combination of micro interventions that can be scaled but adopted to each implementation.

That is, businesses need to see their future from the eyes of social corporate opportunity. Non
profits like Kiva are showing us how collaboration, cultural relevance,
adoptable models, empowering the user, and having a new model not a new
product is the future for any company that is looking to emerging
markets.

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