There is no shortage of complicated problems to solve in the world, and Oxfam America is dedicated to the tough work of addressing poverty, hunger, and injustice throughout the world. On April 8-9, Sam Miller Hicks, AGC Global Head of Marketing and Impact, attended the Oxfam America Leadership Council meeting in Boston.
The 54 members of the leadership council shared their experiences with non-profit and for profit organizations dedicated to change. No matter the type of organization, they face many common challenges:
- Listening and then working with local groups to drive programs (examples: Saving for Change, the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative)
- Working within the system as a critical friend (example: Behind the Brands)
- Quantifying results (example: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation requires adequate ROI for projects funded)
- Keeping focused on what you can achieve (example: Oxfam Hong Kong / China focuses on agriculture where they can make a positive change)
The organizations shared a common emphasis on helping real people make a real difference in their lives while being honest and rigorous about the data and analysis of their outcomes.
Sam found the Saving for Change story particularly compelling. Over 750,000 women in developing economies have helped themselves by helping each other. Women in the program begin by saving very small amounts—starting at 20 cents per week. When savings accumulate the women become their own bankers, approving loans to each other from their pooled savings. AGC targets services to the missing middle of the financial services market. Yet, the middle market may start with a group of women saving pennies a week to begin building business that need more working capital later in their development.