South Africa: Helping the Grassroots Grow - Social Investment in Community Organisations Is Critical for Civil South Africa


Community-based organisations can play a critical role in the current South African landscape following the widespread unrest of July. Being at 'grassroots' level gives them a legitimacy that organisations coming in from the 'outside' may lack.

The recent unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and the humanitarian crisis arising from it, have highlighted not only the inequality and anger pervading our society, but also the resilience of communities across the country that are working together to rebuild and bring about change at a local level.

Community-based organisations (CBOs) play a critical role in this landscape. They represent communities identifying and addressing the issues that most affect them, and being at "grassroots" level gives them a legitimacy that organisations coming in from the "outside" may lack. Social investors are increasingly recognising the importance of resourcing CBOs, but are faced with the challenge of how to reach them as effectively, efficiently and responsibly as possible.

Many CBOs are caught in a vicious cycle where they are effectively too under-resourced to access resources. A limited financial track record, lack of connectivity and limited capacity to implement at scale make accessing funding a challenge for these organisations. This in turn restricts their opportunities...

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