DURBAN - Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) play a significant role in society and our economy by strengthening local communities and ensuring that we build vibrant, independent, thriving regional communities.
NPOs do this by providing critical solutions and services that aid in creating an environment that empowers and enables local communities to capitalise on opportunities that contribute to socio-economic stability and mobility as well as allow businesses and residents to flourish.
Strong, well-resourced NPOs that are connected to the local and provincial decision-making infrastructure and have access to a network of companies and stakeholders can be very influential in catalysing socio-economic growth in their communities.
They can have the added benefit of decreasing barriers to entry, increasing access to markets and allowing previously disadvantaged groups to have greater access to opportunities.
The business community and government need to support the NPO sector in order to ensure that eThekwini and KwaZulu-Natal maximise their potential for inclusive and sustainable growth and development that will have the maximum impact and benefit. Often, due to a combination of strong community relationships and intimate local knowledge,
NPOs have a greater understanding of local communities’ needs and the best ways to meet them,often serving as the voice of the people they serve.
That is why NPOs must be included in policy-making to ensure that socio-economic growth is inclusive. In the current economic climate filled with numerous socio-economic challenges such as constrained economic activity and high unemployment, there are ever-increasing needs and wants from local communities for additional support and community-building initiatives programmes and initiatives.
NPOs still answer the call, but more often than not, they are forced to do even more with less, placing an immense strain on their already limited operational (physical, human and financial) resources.
This is where the private sector can aid NPOs and make a significant impact on their ability to service our City and Province.
There are limited resources available for NPOS from the public sector, so NPOs must be aligned with local businesses who can contribute to their sustained operational activities and programmes. At the recent Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s NPO Business Forum, the key theme was built around how to create and improve linkages and opportunities between NPOs and the local business community for more effective corporate social responsibility initiatives that have a significant impact on local communities and causes.
The Durban Chamber through its NPO Business Forum is creating an NPO database that will highlight the value proposition of listed NPOs, intending to identify and pair them with local businesses based on the goalsof each business.
Through pro-active coordination, local companies can now assist NPOs in making a more significant impact on the communities they serve by providing funding that will allow the NPOS to focus on building and expanding crucial programs that would empower those communities to develop and flourish. Business can also lend their expertise to NPOs, who often struggle with organisational issues such as strategic planning, financial planning, human capital and resource management, project management and programme evaluation as well as communications and marketing.
Building capacity within NPOs can strengthen their ability to successfully deliver their strategic goals and ambitions which will, in turn, bolster our society’s ability to capitalise on development opportunities. As the business community, we have a responsibility to the communities we do business in to engage with NPOs in a manner that is value-adding, resourceful and creative to support them in their missions, in keeping with our vision to be in business for a better world.
Palesa Phili is the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry