As part of Oxfam - Liberia's effort to address the challenge of sustainability facing local organizations here, it has awarded US$25,000 to three local groups aimed at supporting programs generated by each of these winning groups. Announcing the award of the fund during an event at Oxfam's office in Monrovia over the weekend, Oxfam Liberia Deputy Program Director Madam Lisa Kindervater - Sieh said the challenge of sustainability and lasting impact are at the forefront now that Oxfam is in the process of phasing out of Liberia.
"Today Oxfam is awarding about twenty five thousand U.S. dollars to three groups that have won the IDEAS Market Place," she said. IDEAS is the acronyms for Innovate, Develop, Empower and Act for Sustainability.
The three IDEAS Market Place winning teams include I-impact Initiative represented by Hanson Blayon and Phebe Lela Dawah; Impact X represented by Abimail B. Arimi; and Action Against SGBV [Sexual Gender - based Violence].
Madam Kindervater - Sieh said the truth is some of these three winning groups may not be sustained, but it's about learning process and putting diverse people together, some of them who didn't have any background in development.
She noted that some members of these groups may be students, businesspeople, academics or different kinds of participants from different backgrounds to see what kind of idea that they can generate. According to Lisa, one of the reasons why things are not sustained is there is always a challenge of local ownership.
According to her, Oxfam has invested a lot of money in gender justice programs and active citizenship programs and then often time they don't really know after they leave, how long will these programs will really last.
Madam Kindervater - Sieh explained that Oxfam was thinking about the question of sustainability and when the innovation process funded by Danidad through Oxfam and Denmark came about, adding that Oxfam really wanted to work with this challenge of sustainability and to put the challenge out there and see what the people will come up with.
"We didn't want to put our Oxfam stamp on it, say, you should do this kind of project or this kind of activity; we wanted it to be generated from the people themselves to be able to do what they thought they will be able to sustain into the future," Madam Kindervater - Sieh explained.
"So it was that sustainability challenge that brought the IDEAS Market Place," Madam Kindervater - Sieh stated.
Like many charities, Madam Kindervater - Sieh noted that the pandemic has hit "our finances hard," adding that Oxfam made a difficult decision to reduce the number of countries here it works."We are now phasing out 18 of our 66 country offices and changing how we work in others. Four of these country offices are in West Africa: Mauritania, Benin, Sierra Leone and Liberia," she said.
iCampus Liberia Chief Executive Officer Mr. Luther Jeke expressed excitement about the journey, applauding the effort of Danidad, Oxfam in Liberia for selecting his organization to help facilitate the IDEAS Market Place initiative.
According to Mr. Jeke, the IDEAS Market Place initiative is an innovation challenge which iCampus was asked couple of months back to facilitate. He recalled that there were over 120 applicants for the program, out of which 60 participants were selected based on the scope of what they were trying to do.
Jeke explained that the whole idea behind the process was that Oxfam felt that there were many young Liberians who were so passionate about making positive change in Liberia and that they can work with people from different backgrounds and see if they can form a team immediately.