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BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt AUGUST 3 • 2017
sations (NGOs) worldwide
have seen their budgets cut
significantly over the last
decade as companies and
government donors have
less resources to disburse.
This is also the case in T&T and much of
the Caribbean, and it raises the question of
what NGOs need to do to attract the limited
funds that exist.
Jason Narinesingh, director of compliance
for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean at Sco-
tiabank, gave local NGOs advice last week on
how they could survive and what needs to be
done for them to be more efficient.
He began by addressing one of the biggest
challenges NGOs face in this era: the lack of
"Funding is the lifeblood of the organisa-
tion. We are aware of the challenges that are
facing us now. NGOs have different types of
partnerships that they depend on for grants,
funding and donors."
He said because of the changing world and
with less money available for NGO funding,
the relationship must move away from just
receiving a cheque annually from a donor.
"Sometimes we need to come out of the
insular way we are thinking. Let us think
about what is changing in our world. Are we
in the bubble syndrome that there is a global
landscape of change that is sweeping? How
is the NGO impacted by what is going on in
Narinesingh added that tighter financial
regulations worldwide will have an impact
on the way NGOs operate.
He referred to the World Association of
NGOs (WANGO) that has a code of conduct
of how NGOs should operate and advised local
NGOs to read it and use it as a guideline.
"It says that NGOs should be transpar-
ent, an NGO should have all its information
available to the public and there should also
He also advised NGOs to understand the
importance of compliance.
"NGOs want to ensure they are compliant
with regulations so there are proper checks and
balances to the systems internally. It makes
financial sense. When you cut corners and do
things substandard, you end up paying more
in the long run not only financially but with
your reputation. It makes financial sense to
have proper accounting, budgeting and audit
systems," he said.
He added that NGOs with good compliance
systems are well respected and donors tend to
be attracted to them.
"At then end of the day, it is about earning
the public's trust. If your NGO is clean, then
people will come to you."
Narinesingh spoke last Thursday at Sco-
tiabank's Insight series at the Hyatt Regency
According to Scotiabank, the series was
launched in 2016 is designed to help motivate
and inspire participants.
The focus this year was on NGOs.
Marina Hilaire-Bartlett, executive direc-
tor of PSI-Caribbean---a global non-profit
organisation focused on the encouragement
of healthy behaviour and affordability of health
products---also spoke on the importance of
funding for NGOs.
She said in the 1990s to early 2000s, fund-
ing for NGOs was very big but this declined
"A lot of them focus on HIV and AIDS. The
reality is that money was flowing from large
international aid agencies. The global funds
to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria came
from agencies like the World Bank and the
President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR). The reality was billions of dollars
in funding that came to the Caribbean as well."
She said after that surge in the mid 2000s
there was a shift with less money being do-
nated to NGOs.
Part of this was the downturn of the global
economy and companies having limited funds.
She gave advice on how NGOs could do more
to attract that smaller NGO funding available.
The first was to diversify the areas of focus.
"The traditional donors are not there in the
same way. It now gives us an opportunity to
innovate and build new relations like with
Scotiabank and other private sector donors."
She also said because of T&T's gross domes-
tic product (GDP), the country is not seen as
a poor country but as middle income to high
income. This means T&T should be able to ad-
dress its own social issues and that internation-
al donors are channeling their smaller pool of
funds to Africa, some parts of Asia and poorer
regions of the world. However, Hilaire-Bart-
lett said that might not represent T&T's true
realities and its social issues remain.
She added NGOs being financially account-
able is another big step needed in attracting
"We have to be accountable for the mon-
ey that is given to us. This means consistent
financial oversight---whether it be weekly or
monthly---and in ways that are effective and
efficient so that we know where the money
She concluded by saying that even in her
organisation, they have done some "drastic
downsizing" over the last year.
"We have had to cut overheads by 80 per
cent, I had to let go more than half my staff.
That was difficult as we still had to maintain
relationships. But we still had to maintain
our financial accountability and oversight,"
Girl Guides president Jennifer Johnson, left, chats with Scotiabank director Peter Ghany, during
the fifth edition of Scotiabank's Insights series held at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port-of-Spain,
last week. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
In difficult economic times...
NGOs should be transparent, an
NGO should have all its information
available to the public and there
should also be accountability."
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