In 2009, I co-founded an organization premised on the notion that those experiencing a problem are best equipped to solve it, when given the tools to do so. The idea[1] came out of some disillusionment that I felt toward “expert-driven” global development programs while living and working in Tanzania[2].

Spark MicroGrants supports rural poor communities to design, implement and manage their own social impact projects. Spark funds communities between $2,000-$10,000 to enable project implementation, such as of a school, electricity line or farm. In the same way that microfinance aims to enable private individuals to support themselves with just a little seed money, microgrants aim to enable communities to solve public sector problems by providing a tiny fraction of the funds of a comparable NGO program.

Spark aims to do two things: it directly alleviates a pressing social problem through the funded project; and it empowers community members to design and implement their own solutions. Since the community controls planning and spending, the projects are locally appropriate, effective, and efficient. Spark guides each community through a two-month grant development process, after which the project is implemented.

Please click on the link below to learn more, and consider donating to one of the many communities with whom Spark works:

  1. Insofar as such an seemingly obvious statement can be called an “idea”.  ↩
  2. In case it’s not clear, the disillusionment was as much toward my own expertise as was toward other organizations that I encountered.  ↩