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Corne Theunissen discusses community foundations as facilitators of grass-roots development.Last week, two GRCF staff were pleased to attend the Geneva Forum on Social Change in Geneva, Switzerland. This innovative forum, which focuses on utilizing movies and other media as a backdrop to discussions and workshops on global social and environmental issues, provides an exciting platform for discussions on how to create sustainable social change.  Organized by students of the unique International Organization MBA programme, the forum boasts participants from a wide range of fields and sectors. The theme of the forum this year was grass-roots innovation and utilizing business for social change.

Due to our work with communities at the grass-roots level, the GRCF was invited to present a workshop on community foundations and ABCD.  The workshop was very well attended and aimed to give participants a solid theoretical background in ABCD and community foundations as well as some practical tools in the form of group exercises. Our own Corne Theunissen and Lana Lovasic presented the workshop – with Corne discussing community foundations, the structure of ABCD and how it fits into what we do as well as the notion of ‘Dead Aid’, while Lana focused in on community economic analysis (aka ‘the Leaky Bucket’) and how it stimulates entrepreneurship and cognitive shift at a grass-roots level.

Lana Lovasic explains the Leaky Bucket and how poorer communities tend to have the biggest leaks.

We are pleased to report that the workshop was highly interactive and led to lots of interesting discussion.  It is also interesting to note that ABCD once again proved its usefulness as a tool for creating positive thinking and cognitive shift, as doing several of the exercises with even a group of experienced development professionals had a highly positive effect on the mood in the room. The rest of the forum featured several wonderful sessions – including a panel session on inclusive finance and a workshop by ITVS among others. There were also several fascinating keynote speakers covering a range of topics from how to stop the spread of disease through re-use of needles in the developing world, to how to leverage corporate social responsibility for maximal impact.  It was a wonderful learning experience overall.

As a result of our attendance at GFSC we have also forged several new partnerships and are excited to see how we can help spread the paradigm of development from the bottom up!  Thank you for all who attended the session, and we look forward to more like it in the future.  As Corne says, aid is only dead as the communities that it serves — through empowerment, we can make sure that grants go to people and projects that are most able to create real, sustainable social change, making our communities the place we love to call home.