Networking to build communities

POEPLE FIRST: MEC Goolam Akharwaray urges delegates to listen to the pople. Pic. Lindi Obose. 12/12/2006. © Sowetan.
POEPLE FIRST: MEC Goolam Akharwaray urges delegates to listen to the pople. Pic. Lindi Obose. 12/12/2006. © Sowetan.

Lindi Obose

Lindi Obose

Strengthening the operational and financial viability of non-profit organisations is at the core of the Northern Cape government's work.

This much was evident during the recent four-day conference hosted by the province's social services and population development department in Kimberley last week.

Serving as a forum for networking and making contact with possible funders, the meeting united the delegates, the organisations and institutions they were representing under the banner of poverty eradication.

The other theme that the conference agreed on was finding the tools to work collectively and to ensure that nongovernmental organisations are operationally and financially viable.

Most of the community-building non-profit organisations run by youth, adults, senior citizens and others who participate in the awards receive support from provincial governments.

Speakers raised issues about development, sustainability, volunteerism and other challenges that non-profit organisations face.

Challenges that non-profit organisations face include a cumbersome registration process and low levels of skills.

Some of the officials of these organisations lacked basic financial and accounting skills and there were no proper systems in place.

The conference resolved that:

l Non-profit organisations should align themselves with regulatory frameworks and comply with the Non-profit Organisation Act;

l Non-profit organisations should encourage unregistered non-profit organisations to register in line with the act and to receive government support and cooperation;

l Non-profit organisation leaders, officials and members should apply for financial management courses.

Hailing the conference's success, social service and population development department MEC Goolam Akharwaray said it was a unique approach by the Northern Cape government "for effective social development".

He said: "It is an approach where people are put at the centre of all the department's decisions, where we put people first and empower communities.

"Also, we must not ignore the wealth of indigenous knowledge systems that exist in our communities. Let's listen to our communities."

Sowetan's corporate social investment and responsibility unit, operating under the auspices of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation, was one of the invited delegates, together with Sowetan's nation-building programmes publicist, Makwetla and Associates, and the SABC.

Sowetan and the SABC, together with Old Mutual, partner the provincial social development departments in sponsoring and running the Community Builder of the Year Awards.

All the finalists from district to national level receive on-going support from the social development departments.