2022 Annual Report

Vibrant Village Foundation 

It’s been four years since Vibrant Village Foundation re-affirmed our commitment to funding local organizations in Africa, Central & South America and shifted to unrestricted funding. We are proud to share that as of March 2023, 87% of our grant partners are now local organizations and 93% of our grant partners are receiving unrestricted grant funding.


In this year’s annual report we’ll share more about what these shifts have been like for us — what’s been challenging, what we haven’t gotten right (yet) and what we’ve been learning along the way. These changes would not have been possible without the commitment of our team and the continued confidence from our board. This support has allowed us to be steadfast in realizing this vision while staying flexible to learn and adapt as we go. 


We continued our efforts to build a global team to lead our grantmaking efforts in Africa. Since 2021, our Ghana-based Director, Osman Mohammed has helped expand our grant portfolio in West Africa. In March, we welcomed Ruth Asiimwe Kabugo to our global team as the East Africa Partnership Lead.  Unfortunately, Ruth stepped down from her role at the end of the year, but she left us with a deeper understanding of what community-led development means in the region. Having staff based regionally has improved how we identify organizations through trusted local networks and has allowed us to be more responsive to partners' needs as they emerge. We are currently re-evaluating our staffing structure and plan to recruit for this role in East Africa in the second half of 2023.


In this report we’ll also highlight some of the incredible work of our grant partners, who continue to innovate and strengthen their programs to build healthier, more vibrant futures in the communities where they work. In 2022, we distributed $4.2M to our grant partners and VVF program offices and aim to reach $4.8M in 2023. 


We thank you all for reading this report and look forward to a great year ahead. Enjoy!


Cover Photo:  Inauguration of Munay T ikariy textile center in Huarqui community (DESEA PERU)

Nurse on bike getting ready for a home visit in Dowa, Malawi. Photo from Wandikweza.
Solar powered water system providing clean drinking water to over 1,500 inhabitants at Yams Farm in Sierra Leone. Photo from St. George Foundation.
Young farmers in rural Lilongwe, Malawi. Photo from ACADES.
[Top Left] Nurse on bike getting ready for a home visit in Dowa, Malawi (Wandikweza)[Bottom Left] Solar powered water system providing clean drinking water to over 1,500 inhabitants at Yams Farm in Sierra Leone (St. George Foundation)[Right] Young farmers in rural Lilongwe, Malawi (ACADES)

2022 Grantmaking by the Numbers

OUR CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO                          LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS


We have long advocated for funding locally-led organizations that are best equipped to understand and address the issues affecting their communities. In 2015, before it was an emergent trend, 45% of our portfolio was made up of local organizations. Yet when we analyzed our data in 2019, we found that the number of local organizations had shrunk to less than 30%. 


When we reflected on the reasons why our foundation was not reaching more local organizations, we recognized our tendency to fund international NGOs that had easier access to us and that typically presented their program models, impact measurement and financials in a way that directly “spoke” to “Global North” funders like us.


In 2020, we therefore decided to re-invigorate our commitment to fund local organizations, valuing above all the right of local leaders and communities to decide and build their own path and recognizing the unique value of local organizations to navigate the complexity of their local ecosystem. In this journey, we also realized that we had to be more purposeful and humble in our outreach and partnership approach, and also change our internal systems to better understand and support local organizations.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but powered by our values, 

we are committed to shifting resources to support 

locally-led development.”  

         - Marieme Daff, VVF Director of Programs & Partnerships



Girls learning weaving skills through vocational training program in Tamale, Ghana. Photo from Songtaba.

Girls learning weaving skills through vocational training program in Tamale, Ghana (Songtaba)

HOW WE DEFINE 'LOCALLY-LED'


We define locally-led as nonprofit organizations led by people born and raised in the regions where they work. [Thank you Firelight Foundation for this definition


Often these organizations have smaller budgets, fewer resources and lack connections to international funder networks. In our partner selection criteria we focus on organizations under $1M USD, commit to providing unrestricted funding and offer support beyond grant funding.

Lessons in Unrestricted Grantmaking

Changing Mindsets & Processes - The first step in shifting to unrestricted funding was changing our mindset for how we viewed and assessed our grant partners. With unrestricted funding, we could step back and get to know our grant partners as whole organizations, rather than a compilation of the projects they implement. This also put more responsibility on us to understand and value the systems that support entire organizations, like governance, staffing and support functions. With this approach, we’ve also been re-thinking our annual reporting requirements and asking ourselves and our partners —" What does 'accountability' look like for unrestricted funding?"


The shift to unrestricted funding for local (non 501c3's) also required a change in our internal processes to comply with IRS laws. Starting in 2022, we now require all local grant partners to go through a 3rd party equivalency determination certification process. VVF pays for the certificates, but this has added an average of 8 weeks to our already lengthy due diligence process.


Go Slow, it’s a Learning Process - Some of our grant partners have never had unrestricted funding before, so we're learning that we need to go slow and build in time to answer all of the questions about how it works. When we haven't done this, we see that partners can easily default to a restricted-funding mindset which has been imposed by the international funding community for decades (e.g. coming back to funders for approval to re-allocate funds, etc). We also acknowledge that organizations will always be constrained in how they manage their overall financial picture, as long as the majority of their funding remains restricted. 



Woman in San Miguel Las Minas, Guatemala who receives water from a sand dam. Photo from The Gardens Edge.

Woman in San Miguel Las Minas, Guatemala who receives water from a sand dam (The Gardens Edge)

New Grant Partners in 2022

St. George Foundation logo
MoPada Logo
CALID logo
Brave Aurora Logo

Partner Video: Footsteps Africa

In January, Marieme Daff, our Director of Programs and Partnerships visited Footsteps Africa in Malawi, one of our grant partners addressing gaps in access in clean water in the country. Check out this video highlighting their programs and community engagement.

 

To learn more about Footsteps Africa, follow them on social media or reach out directly to Twisiwile Mwaighogha at twisi@footstepsafricamw.org.

Partner Spotlight:  Kenya Drylands Education Fund 


Kenya Drylands Education Fund (KDEF) is one of our long-term partners working in the drylands of Northern Kenya. KDEF’s mission is to improve educational opportunities for underserved populations in Marsabit and Samburu Counties. KDEF identifies the biggest barriers to school attendance and then works to break down those barriers through a multi-faceted model focused on the student called EnART (Enrollment, Attendance, Retention and Transition) which encompasses infrastructure development, WASH, scholarship programs and emergency response.

 

KDEF has done incredible work in five years and their impact is visible in the dozens of communities they serve. They are bringing much-needed clean water where most people thought it was impossible, working together with the local government to rehabilitate and equip schools, and supporting girls to stay in school through their scholarship and mentorship program.


In the last five years, KDEF has worked in 14 communities in northern Kenya, serving an estimated 29,000 households. The organization has supported 47 schools, impacting over 6,000 students and directly sponsored 270 girls through their successful high school scholarship program. 

To learn more about KDEF, follow them on facebook, instagram and twitter. Or reach out directly to Ahmed Kura at kura.omar@kdef.org

Community members filling buckets from a new water stand in Northern Kenya. Photo from Kenya Drylands and Education Fund.

Community members filling buckets from a new water stand in Northern Kenya (Kenya Drylands and Education Fund)

Farmer hoeing cabbage fields, in Western Kenya. Photo from VVF Kenya.

Farmer hoeing fields in Lower Kokulo, South Western Kenya (VVF Kenya)

VVF Kenya: Strategic Reboot of the Agriculture Program

Shifting to Regenerative Agriculture Transformation

Since 2013, Vibrant Village Foundation Kenya has been providing zero interest loans to smallholder farmers to purchase high quality seeds and fertilizers with the aim to increase food security and financial wellbeing for rural households. Over these past 10 years, the program has grown from 500 farmers to over 6,000 farmers across 3 counties and has helped farmers increased their maize production by 50%, on average.  

Despite these accomplishments, in recent years, farmers have struggled to sustain high crop yields and profits due to increasingly erratic rainfall, soil degradation and the rising cost of synthetic fertilizers. These climatic and economic pressures on smallholder farmers forced the team in Kenya to reassess the original assumptions about the long-term sustainability and potential harms of the program model and adapt to the evolving context.


Our key aim in the new program is to provide support to the farmers, to have a sustained increase in food production and be better equipped to handle the twin challenges of climate variability and soil degradation, through the adoption of proven regenerative agricultural practices. This is a sure way of both assuring farmers of food security and profitable farming in the long run.” 

- Geoffrey Nyambane, Country Director VVF Kenya


With technical support from the African Conservation Tillage Network, VVF Kenya is re-designing their agriculture program to better support smallholder farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices and transition beyond subsistence farming. The new program will officially launch in 2024. 

VVF Ghana: Progress on 10-year Integrated Program

In Ghana, the Vibrant Village team has been implementing an integrated program to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable populations in the Upper West region since 2019. The main components are Livelihoods, Gender, Financial Inclusion, Education, Child Protection and WASH

Photo: Mr. Tembouro's soybean field with no crop rotation.

Photo: Mr. Tembouro's soybean field with no crop rotation.

Conservation Agriculture

In 2022, VVF Ghana set up two new demonstration farms in the communities of Kuni and Panaa in Sissala West district, adding to the five existing demo farms in the region. Over 909 smallholder farmers (329 male & 571 female) participate in ongoing learning sessions at these demo farms. 

VVF Ghana also supported three farmers to cultivate 15 acres of certified seed in Sissala West district. This initiative will increase farmer's access to high yielding seeds in the 2023 planting season.

Photo: Mr. Tembouro's soybean field using crop rotation.

Photo: Mr. Tembouro's soybean field using crop rotation.





“Please come and see something…Last year, I planted maize and rotated it with soybeans this year. Can you see the difference?"


-Mohammed Tembouro, 

farmer from Sangbaka # 2  

Photo: Hand Washing sensitization session at Buo Basic school.

Photo: Hand Washing sensitization session at Buo Basic school. 

Education & Child Protection

In 2022, VVF Ghana worked with 12 school-based clubs to teach 432 girls and 267 boys about menstrual health and hygiene practices and give girls access to disposable sanitary pads.

In addition, VVF Ghana provided writing desks and textbooks to 350 public school students. These materials boosted the morale of students and teachers and contributed to a 60% improvement in school attendance.


Photo: Borehole mechanic assessing a faulty borehole at Yibile.

Photo: Borehole mechanic assessing a faulty borehole at Yibile. 

WASH

Since 2011, VVF Ghana has installed over 52 boreholes and provided repairs to over 112 boreholes in the region. 

In 2022, VVF Ghana rehabilitated 15 boreholes, helped three communities become open-defecation free using the Community Total-Led Sanitation approach and extended WASH programs to six communities in the Wa municipality. 



Priorities for 2023