The downturn of the global, regional and domestic economy has resulted has negatively impacted the NPO sector;causing mainly, a reduction in funding, exasperated resources at a time when the demand for social justice services has increased says Muziwethu Zwane, the CEO of Rays of Hope.
In an interview with the Business Report, Rays of Hope, a Non-Profit Company (NPC) and a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO), which started operating with one project in 1991 and has grown to a network of community-based programmes, focusing on learning and development, psychosocial support said that essentially, the economic difficulties and their ripple-effect on corporate and individual finances, have created a greater need for the services of NPO’s due to the heavy impact they have had on already impoverished household.
“Conversely, although, the needs have been greater, the funding to meet those needs has been greatly diminished. In order to survive such adverse circumstances, organisations such as Rays of Hope have honed in on their focus areas and moved away from initiatives that don’t serve their core mission yet put a further strain on resources,” Zwane said.
Despite this, he said that as an organisation, they held an optimistic yet cautious outlook on this year for the NPO sector. “We recognise the volatility of global and regional economics and politics, especially with the upcoming elections in South Africa. We know, from past experiences, how that can impact the most vulnerable communities and what that means for NPO’s at a ground and operational level. In light of that, we move forward with caution but if we remain devoted to our core functions in society. We also recognise the importance of maintaining collaborative relationships with our community and corporate stakeholders. Without such collaboration, mutual respect and shared values, NPO’s may find themselves financially vulnerable and with diminished community impact.”
The education based organisation, said it recognised that load-shedding has over several years impacted the outputs of learners across the country, affecting their ability to produce impressive results in their schooling careers.
Zwane said they have also seen the impact it has had on small township businesses suffering great losses and leaving families in much need of financial assistance to survive. He said that as an organisation, they have been forced to be creative and capitalize on natural sources of light, such as moving their main learning programs to Saturday mornings where natural light was sufficient.
“We have also worked hand-in-hand with corporate stakeholders who have made it possible for the learners within our programmes to take home solar lights to assist them in studying in the evenings.”
Rays of Hope which has for many years focused on education and social justice, says that however, their increased pivot on what they referred to as
“The Whole-Child” model has encouraged a greater sense of focus. It said that meeting the educational needs of a child, while impacting their ecosystem through psycho-social support and family care has allowed them to have a far greater reaching impact.
The organisation said it has also moved swiftly to start as early as possible, in concurrence with the theory of impacting the first 1000 days of a child’s life; not just nutritionally, but also educationally and emotionally.
It said the the launch of our Early Childhood Development Learning Centre Akanani has been one of its greatest achievements last year as they strived to make it a world-class learning centre.
“Now that each one of our children is at the centre of what we do, we know that the next step is to build the village that will raise that child. We no longer look at fundraising as a mere financial exercise but we recognise our stakeholders as partners that enable us to do what we do with excellence.
For us to reach our fullest potential, it will take all our partners understanding what we do and how its impact will be felt over many years.
We also hold a strong view that what we are doing in the community of Alexandra has the potential to be replicated successfully across the country,” said Zwane.