One of the critical issues facing civil society today is the need for improved organisational sustainability. Civil society organisations struggle to achieve institutional, financial and programmatic sustainability – challenges that are only compounded by limited access to relevant and locally adapted capacity building training and courses. The Juntos! initiative seeks to help civil society organisations overcome these challenges and address their critical long term needs: governance, leadership, strategic planning, networking, communications, human resources and resource mobilisation.
Juntos! not only gives civil society actors access to relevant, engaging and highly applicable training courses but also enables them to create and deliver their own courses, cascading their skills and knowledge to others.
Initiated in 2014, Juntos! is a key forum for civil society in Mozambique today. Juntos!, which means ‘together’ in Portuguese, brings together a wide range of partners working in health, education, women’s rights, children’s rights and advocacy. Today, twenty organisations make up the network: nine civil society organisations, six networks of approximately 40 organisations each, two universities, as well as three foundations in addition to the Aga Khan Foundation and La Caixa Foundation, who are the initiators and sponsors of Juntos!. The forum is premised on the notion that partnership among a highly diverse group of organisations can bring about synergies that have the potential to make civil society in Mozambique more impactful and more sustainable over the long term, enabling it to achieve its full potential in improving the quality of life of people and communities in the country.
Through its current network of partners, Juntos! hopes to reach out to hundreds more civil society organisations in the coming years. Indeed, its goal is not only to build the capacity of its twenty members but to empower key intermediary partners to strengthen smaller organisations in the country. The network’s participatory governance model ensures that all partners have an equal say in operational decisions and that external input from key actors in Mozambique is also taken into account. Juntos! Management Meetings, in which all partners are represented, take place every two months, while the network’s Advisory Board, which includes external organisations such as USAID and Microsoft, meets once a year.
The Juntos! approach to capacity building rests on blended learning, which combines short video-based courses ideal for self-study with highly interactive, practically-oriented workshops. Incorporating user-centred design and delivery, technological innovation, new pedagogical methodologies, and practical hands-on learning, this approach enables civil society organisations to learn, connect and collaborate. The initiative also builds the skills of key organisations to create their own blended learning content, thus increasing local ownership and empowering local organisations by giving them the tools to share their knowledge with others.
Juntos! is part of AKDN’s larger Blended Learning Initiative aimed at growing the capacity of civil society organisations in the countries where the AKDN works. The initiative is designed to help civil society actors to overcome barriers to effective learning and to enable them to access highly localised, practically-oriented, high quality, low cost blended learning courses on organisational strengthening topics such as organisational capacity assessment, storytelling, monitoring and evaluation, communication and collaboration, resource mobilisation, as well as on relevant programmatic topics such as rural development, sanitation, health, nutrition, water management, vocational training and entrepreneurship.
In addition to Mozambique, AKDN is currently implementing its Blended Learning Initiative in India, Kenya and Egypt, with plans to expand to Portugal, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Syria.