Aid agencies are emotional. Someone saw an injustice or a need and developed what they believed would be a better solution. They had grand intentions of helping those in need, and they believed no one else would do it with the amount of passion and determination they would. So they started an aid agency; one that would “finally” solve the problems at hand*.
People start aid agencies “for the people”, as opposed to their ego or personal gain. Not always the case, but I still like to believe it represents the majority.
You can reduce most of Africa’s needs down to a handful of core issues such as health care, education, business development and awareness (letting the world know what’s going on). But there are thousands of them out there. Capital cities in East Africa are about half aid agency these days. The streets are lined with their offices and logo plastered SUVs.
But if we only have a handful of core issues, how many agencies does it really take to address them? So many have the same initiatives as their neighbor (literally), yet they refuse to collaborate, or even share notes. If they are still doing it “for the people”, isn’t this counterproductive?
We could use some collaboration here. If it’s really “for the people”, let’s put our money (and ideas) where our mouth is. We could probably take 100 agencies, turn them into 10, and do a lot more good, but because they are so emotionally driven, people aren’t willing to share control and collaborate.
Fortunately, groups like Unreasonable Institute and Ashoka recognize this trend and are taking great strides to bring unity to the great minds inclined to start an aid agency. The trend towards Social Entrepreneurialism is certainly paving a much brighter future for developing countries.
*Four years ago I said “The world doesn’t’ need any more aid agencies; they need to just start collaborating.” So naturally I started my own aid agency. It’s now a for-profit social enterprise, but the journey to get here was an invaluable experience that helped me understand the interworkings of an aid agency.