The first day of the Sustainability Summit. Beautiful devotion started the day, then President James Ekow Rhule welcomed us to a new working day at the Hotel Decameron.
Christian Kamara, NGS in Sierra Leone YMCA (to the far right) started us out with his experiences from NAYDO and good advises for a solid funds development process in a national YMCA. Then Janet from the Kenyan Community Development Foundation talked to us about Investment and the wish to become independent. How do we apply Philanthropy in our YMCAs? What is an Endowment Fund? Not a savings account where you can come back and withdraw money when you need it! The difference between Private Business and Not For Profit organizations needs to be clarified. and how feasible is all of this change?
It was two excellent inputs and a number of constructive questions and comments followed from the engaged audience.
Then Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary of AAY, was to give his input on the New Economic Model. Carlos was convincing and clear, as always, and made us both laugh and smile and see the seriousness of the matter. This is all about sustainability and a stable future for YMCAs in Africa!
After tea Gail Glaser from Albany, New York, USA, took over the floor. Gail is a star on the funds development firmament and we were all so happy to welcome the former chair of the North American YMCA Development Organization to our midst. In her engaged opening statement she stated very clearly that “No Mission – No Money. No Money – No Mission”.
She wanted to facilitate us to discuss our own experiences with key elements of this process towards financial stability and sustainability, like Readiness of Boards, Staff, Relationships Management, Communications, Diversification of Income Streams.
We then started to discuss at the tables of 6-7 where we were sitting, and took one step at the time. We had a card with Green – all ok, one card with yellow – partially prepared and ready, and we had one card in red – not so ready yet! We were supposed to show a card to reflect on which level we found ourselves and our YMCAs.
Each table were given different challenges, and after a good “local” discussion we were challenged to report back to the plenary on our findings and then to show our colors!
Gail spoke to us about the Land In Between, like the people of Israel between Egypt and the Promised Land. The Land In Between is always a difficult place to be, said Gail, because you somehow have a foretaste of the Promised Land, and also the memories from the slavery with stability of the past. The real challenge here is to have stayer capacity to reach the promised land. We may have different gifts and skills, but if we give up too early, nothing of that will gain us or give us any benefits.
The next session was with the theme: “Building Private Sector Relationships: The Experience of YMCA Liberia”. It was the NGS, Edvard, who started us out with a brilliant presentation of before establishing these relationships and the present situation – a huge different in quality and quantity!
Edvard mentioned as just one example amongst several, their relationship to Chevron and their support to the IT training of young people in the Liberian YMCA.
Dr Tendaj Morissa from Trust Africa, originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, gave us an excellent, eloquent input on the realities of philanthropy and development on the African Continent – really captivating stuff!
He claimed that there is a newborn optimism in Africa, we have the fastest growing middle class anywhere in the world, and the number of High Net Worth population is growing fast. That would be dollar millionaires!
Another aspect of a rising Africa is the number of respected global leaders, like Nelson Mandela was, and like Kofi Annan is.
More multi National Corporations are owned by Africans, and he mentioned a n dumb er of banks, development companies, telephone companies etc.
We are seeing a maturing continent, where African funders and donors and investors are taking responsibility for medical challenges like the Ebola and research to respond to that situation.
The African Diaspora is no longer only investing in their own families and their old villages, but they are starting to invest in greater caused involving the whole continent. All the construction work in infrastructure and apartment buildings we had seen around us in Senegal, was investments of the Senegalese diaspora.
It has been a huge development and change the last 10 years. Solid backbone support structures for philanthropy is now in place in Africa.
Remember that when Chevron wants to help you and have you involved in a deal, they are making a huge profits from their presence in your country. So you (YMCA) and Chevron are at least doing one another mutually valuable favors. Chevron needs the brand of organizations like the YMCA to shine up their image.
The last comment from Dr Morissa was the following statement: “The biggest asset of the YMCA is its Brand and its Members!”