WB introduces development fund for entrepreneurs, NGOs

() - August 26, 2003 - 12:00am
The World Bank launched recently the Development Marketplace (DM), a grant program that provides initial funding for resourceful ideas, and that encourages partnerships among NGOs, businesses, development banks, and governments. Bringing the competition to a local level, the World Bank organizes country innovation days (CIDs), which are country-level versions of the global DM competition. Juries comprised of local, high-level experts in relevant fields choose the winners who receive grants with values worth $5,000 to $20,000. At nine CIDs held over the past 12 months, $2.5 million in grants was awarded to 152 diverse and innovative projects.

"It is worth noting that only $1 million of the awarded grant money came directly from the World Bank’s DM, while an additional $1.5 million was contributed independently from other sources mobilized by the Bank country offices that coordinated the events," said Enrique Rueda-Sabater, World Bank director of Strategy and Risk Management.

The first-ever competition in Africa was held in Burkina Faso and focused on the "Rural Productivity and Artisans in the Fight Against Poverty." Ten winners, selected from 382 entries, received a total of $110,000. The first prize went to "Promoting Local Cereals Initiatives," a project which tackles the practical challenges of starting up and running a small family business centered on the production of biscuits, fruit juices and other local food products, in an environment with intense foreign competition.

The Central Asia regional competition included five-countries (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and awarded 25 grants totalling $350,000. Diverse community-based activities received funding, including provision of alternative, low-cost sources of energy to small farmers, promotion of eco-tourism by schoolchildren, development of handicrafts production to help disabled people, and provision of new ways to store and transport fish for Aral Sea fishermen.

The Ethiopia/Sudan competition was the first to include a country still in conflict. It received more than 1,000 applications and its steering committee was comprised of members from each country represented by Ethiopia, Sudan and New/South Sudan–which selected 100 finalists to display their projects in Addis Ababa.

One winning project, submitted by the Relief Organization of Fagzuuil (ROOF) of New/South Sudan, won $10,000 to address the changing role of women in war-torn environments through a holistic approach that not only teaches women how to enhance their economic abilities, but also how to become more effective heads of households during the absence or loss of their husbands due to war. In all, 41 entries received approximately $10,000 a piece.

In Egypt, the competition addressed one of the country’s most urgent educational issues – an incongruence between the existing skills of the workforce and what the market actually requires.

Thirteen winning projects received awards totalling $400,000. One winning project based in Alexandria has the objective of upgrading and qualifying graduates of commercial secondary schools and technical institutes to work for law offices as paralegals and secretaries.

The project will produce a six-week training and work practicum course intended to fill the void of well-trained assistants needed for the 9,600 legal and accounting offices in Alexandria alone.

The Guatemala competition, for the second year in a row, focused on rural productivity. Represented ideas ranged from making organic fertilizer from coffee pulp to enabling women to weave and sell baskets woven from pine needles. Another winner from the Verapaz region is already producing smokeless and drip-free candles using materials from the cloud forests to be sold as far away as Germany. Ten cash prizes of $14,000 each were awarded.

In Peru, the competition, organized third year in a row, awarded $235,000 to 10 winners. For example, $20,000 grant winner, Chikos Ecologicos (Little Gardeners) organizes a group of at-risk youth to help maintain green areas along major thoroughfares, which slice across the sprawling city of Lima. The program will train almost 300 18 to 23 years old to make, market and sell natural compost, to help them build skills to start their own businesses or join an established one.

"Innovations for a Safer Life" and "Improving the Quality of Life of People with Disabilities" were the two themes of the Vietnam competition. Newspapers will be read to the region’s blind in both Vietnamese and the Khmer language, while a new method of treating shallots˜a special product of the province˜will be introduced that does not use the chemicals that often cause blindness. In total, $172,000 was awarded to 19 projects.

Under the theme, "Sustainable Development in the Amazon," the competition in Brazil focused on the Amazon region, and encouraged applications from all nine Amazonian states. A total of $100,000 was awarded to 10 winning projects in Manaus, Brazil.

The Belarus/Ukraine/Moldova regional competition, which focused on HIV/AIDS, 22 projects received a total of $350,000. Partners included the World Bank’s

Global HIV/AIDS Program (GHAP) and other organizations such as the Swiss Office for International Cooperation, UNICEF and the UNDP. This year, the DM expects to organize six competitions in Colombia, India, Lithuania, Philippines, Southern Africa, and Yemen.

ADDIS ABABA ARAL SEA AWARDED BURKINA FASO CENTRAL ASIA CHIKOS ECOLOGICOS COMPETITION DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE SOUTH SUDAN WORLD BANK
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