FEDICE follows a strategic planning process, tested over the course of more than 20 years, to shape projects that effectively empower and uplift indigenous and marginalized communities in Ecuador via economic and social development tools.
1 // Connecting With A Community
The first step in forming a partnership with a community is making contact. Leaders from interested communities or associations typically send a letter to FEDICE expressing their interest in working with us, providing references and requesting a meeting. During the first meeting, the scope of the project and overarching goals are discussed, and our process and policies are explained. If both parties feel the project is a good fit, and the community commits to our policies and process, we move into the next phase of planning.
2 // Situational Analysis
In this step, we obtain critical data for planning purposes and ensuring the success of a project. We look at the local climate, the number of inhabitants in a community, typical family size, access to basic services, principal industries and labor market conditions in the area, current occupations and skills, in addition to other socio-economic indicators. At this stage in new partnerships, we also assist in setting up an association and choosing provisional leadership in the form of a board of directors typically comprised of a president, treasurer, and secretary. These members serve as points of contact with FEDICE and coordinate meetings, trainings, etc.
3 // Project Design
Planning is a fully inclusive and collaborative process between FEDICE and partner communities. We base our planning on four fundamental principles:
Relevance: We plan projects to fit the needs of a community, while acknowledging and addressing the current socio-economic conditions, prevailing cultural norms and life experiences of participants.
Efficacy: We work to fully leverage the human, material, and economic resources available in a community, with the goal of achieving the strongest results for the least cost.
Sustainability: Our goal is to empower partner communities with tools, resources, confidence and knowledge, so that in the long run they develop a high level of self-sufficiency.
Lasting Impact: We aim to drive the kind of systemic economic and social changes that establish a virtuous cycle of development and lay the foundation for a more just and equitable future.
4 // Execution (Reimbursable Funds Projects)
Dispersal of Funds & Contract Signing: The association in a partner community signs for and receives their reimbursable funds at a festive kick-off event. These community credits are used for purchasing animals, seeds, vital materials or merchandise according to the project design. If the project requires more than $8,000 in reimbursable funds, FEDICE solicits a guarantee of equal value to the project quote from the community (typically the title for property owned by leaders of the association or a beneficiary). FEDICE, in addition to co-financing projects and providing technical expertise, promotes a culture of savings at individual and communal levels as a critical aspect of self-sufficiency and long-term prosperity. When an association is created, we require the formation of a branch that acts as a savings and credit union, and distributes funds to participants.
Obligations: Both parties agree to the following expectations for contributions to the success of a project.
- Finance approximately 60% of the project in reimbursable funds
- Provide training, expertise, and support for partner communities throughout a project
- Cover a percentage of the cost for technical assistance and training sessions
- Use reimbursable funds responsibly for direct costs of the project
- Form an association for acquisitions and organizational purposes
- Contribute a percentage of cash and in-kind services/materials (agreed upon prior to kick-off) to ensure success of the project.
- Collect funds for repayment periodically among participating families
- Contribute each month to their community fund
- Responsibly manage animals, crops or materials for their particular enterprise
- Attend training sessions and meetings regularly throughout the span of the project
Execution of the Project: The activities of a project begin with the purchase of animals, seeds, vital materials or merchandise. At this stage, initial challenges — typically prices and/or quality of animals, seeds or materials — are analyzed and resolved. At this stage, we also commence training sessions on socio-economic, organizational, agricultural, health or sustainability topics. The slate of topics is chosen via collaboration between FEDICE (based on our analysis and specialist recommendations) and a partner community (according to their sense of relevancy and need).
Follow-Up: We meet monthly with communities to assess progress, give trainings and problem solve. This includes both individual home visits and group meetings to discuss difficulties and brainstorm solutions.
5 // Evaluation
We begin the final stage with an event to recover reimbursable funds loaned to communities. After this, we evaluate success based on several factors: Did the group pay back funds, achieve stated goals, attend training sessions and follow through on their commitments for the project? If yes, we generally choose to continue working with a community on projects until it has reached a state of development where our assistance is no longer needed. If not, we consider whether the challenges and difficulties experienced are correctable or whether the partnership should be discontinued.