Start Fund Bangladesh makes a direct award to a local NGO
One step closer to localisation
In June 2019, Start Fund Bangladesh made its first national disbursement to a local NGO. This signifies a major step forward in the Start Networks localisation commitments, allowing funds to go directly to the organisation best placed to provide assistance, with major cost and time savings.
When I spoke with Sajid Raihan (Country Manager) and Imtiaz Ahmad (MEAL Coordinator), they explained the story behind this momentous event and what this will mean for the Start Fund Bangladesh going forward.
The Start Fund Bangladesh was launched in April 2017 with 20 of the Start Network members. In May 2019, the signing of 26 local NGO members was completed, opening up the fund to these organizations for the first time. Alongside this has been the recent government approval of the entire 5 million held by Start Fund Bangladesh so that individual NGOs no longer need to apply separately for individual sums of money; and the ability to transfer funds directly from ACF Bangladesh. Both these result in major cost and time savings.
Before the disbursement pot had been transferred to ACF Bangladesh, on average 7 per cent of awarded funds remained at International NGO headquarters outside Bangladesh, and funds often had to transfer through many tiers before reaching the implementing partners. For example, for Sylhet-Moulvibazar flash floods in 2018 (Alert B006), Caritas Bangladesh, the only national NGO member before the latest signing of local and national NGOs, received the funds from SCUK 11 days after the project start date.
Funding is now received quicker, in less than a few days for this recent anticipatory alert B012 (“Anticipation of livelihood insecurity due to fishing ban”). The local NGO who received GBP 50,000 for this response was Jago Nari. This was the only proposal in consortium with two other Start Fund Bangladesh members, Association for Voluntary Actions for Society (AVAS) and Nazrul Smriti Shangsad (NSS). Although the funds were not large, supporting 900 fishing households through unconditional cash grants, the value of this funding activity goes beyond the assistance alone.
Firstly, supporting local NGOs who work very closely with beneficiaries acts to enhance and reinforce this relationship. Secondly, this crisis would not have received funds from other sources because of its small scale and its unconventional form, focusing very much on a local problem. This is exactly the sort of crises that the Start Network aims to support. Thirdly, through this work, the local NGOs are not only supported with funds but also in financial and programme management. A key aim of the Start Fund Bangladesh is to build capacity at the local level.
These important aspects of this local partner support were summarised well during an interview with Duke Ivn Amin, the Consortium Manager for B012 response and the Director of Communication and Resource Mobilization at JAGO NARI:
“Funds normally take more than 2 months to reach us, but in this case, it was around 3 days. … and we made our first distribution among the vulnerable households within 7 days from the project start date by using Kobo for rapid beneficiary data collection… These localized small crises don’t often receive mainstream response … this unprecedented 65-day long fishing ban response is expected to have high levels of impact with fishermen facing acute food insecurity and loans at high-interest rates … this is the first time we have received funds directly as well as independently planned and implemented a response. As we implemented the response in consortium with other local and national NGOs, this will also help to enhance our confidence for future responses as well as tap into other donor funds …”
Start Fund Bangladesh sees the award of funding to a local NGO as a first step towards “shifting the power”, with local and national NGOs now being encouraged to raise alerts and submit proposals directly rather than through International NGOs; and those who gain experience during this process then providing peer-support to other local partners rather than it coming from the Start Network directly. With the ICR they receive with these awards, local NGOs will have funds to utilise in future development; and the challenges they face in implementation can help inform the Start Fund Bangladesh’s future efforts in capacity-building. Finally, working with local NGOs will allow Start Fund Bangladesh to focus on very localised crisis, those that would have been overlooked by other funding sources.
To read more about Start Fund Bangladesh visit: https://startnetwork.org/start-fund/bangladesh