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NGOs as a catalyst for entrepreneurial development and better living conditions •The UNEOIF example

By News Express on 14/02/2017

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With a mission to help the less privileged of Okpu-Isingwu and beyond, we believe a little drop of water in the community can grow mighty seeds, funding, supporting, encouraging and empowering our community to be stronger and better, thus set out a community interest organisation, a nongovernmental organisation in the Okpu-Isingwu community of Umuahia, Abia state, which is setup to impact positively on the welfare and living standard of the members and indigenes of their community.

Inaugurated in march 2015, Ugueze Ngozi Emekobum Okpu-Isingwu Foundation (UNEOIF), is committed to raising the quality of life of the community, reaching out to the less privileged and support those who by omission or commission gets bypassed, in order to help them attain their potentials and live a better life and be able to take care of their families and dependants.

The organisation provides practical steps of assistance in the areas of education, trading, health, apprenticeship, training and employment and has remained true to this mission since inception with evidence of improved lives and testimonies of support by various beneficiaries.

The promoter (Mrs Ugoeze Ngozi Emekobum), although in the Diaspora recognises that we all have a shared destiny and will only coexist better and live harmoniously, if we all enjoy a shared prosperity and lend a helping hand to those who for any reason have fallen to the odd side of life and fortune amongst us and in our society. She went ahead to galvanise and plan to use whatever resources at her disposal and ones she could attract to this cause, and with faith and tenacity of purpose has been doing good at the job.

The term non-governmental organisation or NGO was not in general currency before the UN was formed. When 132 international NGOs decided to co-operate with each other in 1910, they did so under the label, the Union of International Associations. The League of Nations officially referred to its “liaison with private organizations”, while many of these bodies at that time called themselves international institutes, international unions or simply international organizations. The first draft of the UN Charter did not make any mention of maintaining co-operation with private bodies. A variety of groups, mainly but not solely from the USA, lobbied to rectify this at the San Francisco conference, which established the UN in 1945. Not only did they succeed in introducing a provision for strengthening and formalising the relations with private organisations previously maintained by the League, they also greatly enhanced the UN’s role in economic and social issues and upgraded the status of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to a “principal organ” of the UN. To clarify matters, new terminology was introduced to cover ECOSOC's relationship with two types of international organizations. Under Article 70, “specialized agencies, established by intergovernmental agreement” could “participate without a vote in its deliberations”, while under Article 71 “non-governmental organizations” could have “suitable arrangements for consultation”. Thus, “specialized agencies” and “NGOs” became technical UN jargon. Unlike much UN jargon, the term, NGO, passed into popular usage, particularly from the early 1970s onwards.

Many diverse types of bodies are now described as being NGOs. There is no generally accepted definition of an NGO and the term carries different connotations in different circumstances. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental features. Clearly an NGO must be independent from the direct control of any government. In addition, there are three other generally accepted characteristics that exclude particular types of bodies from consideration. An NGO will not be constituted as a political party; it will be non-profit-making and it will be not be a criminal group, in particular it will be non-violent. These characteristics apply in general usage, because they match the conditions for recognition by the United Nations. The boundaries can sometimes be blurred: some NGOs may in practice be closely identified with a political party; many NGOs generate income from commercial activities, notably consultancy contracts or sales of publications; and a small number of NGOs may be associated with violent political protests. Nevertheless, an NGO is never constituted as a government bureaucracy, a party, a company, a criminal organization or a guerrilla group. Thus, for this article, an NGO is defined as an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities. This basic approach will be elaborated and modified below.

Different types of structures among NGOs

There is a great variety of ways in which NGOs are structured. The classic model is of a membership organization, co-ordinated in a geographically-defined hierarchy. Individual people work in local groups, which co-ordinate in provinces and then have a headquarters in the capital city for the country as a whole. Such country-wide organizations are called national NGOs. Frequently, the national NGOs combine in an international NGO, or INGO, which may consist of regional groups of countries and be capped by a global body. Not all the levels of the hierarchy need exist. Many countries are too small to have provincial structures. Smaller specialist NGOs may simply enroll individual members at the national level, without having any local branches. Occasionally, individuals are enrolled at the international level. On the other hand, in large organizations, the international level often seems relatively remote and attracts little attention, even among the NGO’s own members. The group running a local family planning clinic does not necessarily know about the work of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) at the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing. Nevertheless, such global organizations with their membership measured in millions do maintain a democratic policy-making process. While some may hold direct elections for key posts at the national level, the responsibility to the membership at the global level is always indirect, via some international council or assembly of national representatives.

It should be noted that one of the ambiguities about the term, NGO, is whether it is referring to a local, provincial, national, regional or global body. Until the early 1990s, the matter was generally straightforward in academic, news media or political discussions. The overwhelming majority of local and provincial NGOs never engaged in transnational activities. Thus NGO, by itself, usually meant a national NGO and regional or global bodies were called international NGOs. National NGOs did engage in transnational development and humanitarian activities, but, with very few exceptions, they were not, in their own right, participants in international diplomacy. When they wanted to exercise political influence at the global level, they did so through the appropriate INGO. In the 1990s, there was a great upsurge in local organizations becoming active at the global level, particularly on environmental issues, because of the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992, and on social issues, because of the Copenhagen Social Summit in March 1995. Since then, the term INGO has not been used so much and NGO, by itself, has come to cover both national and international NGOs. As an expression of the new politics, various terms then were popularized to refer to local NGOs. Grass-roots organizations, community based organizations (CBOs), and civil society organizations (CSOs), all came into currency. There is still an ambiguity whether these newer terms cover organizations that only operate at the local level or also include local branches of national organizations. Grass-roots and community organizations clearly refer solely to the local level, but civil society has connotations of any level within a single country. Indeed, it has become quite common to refer to global civil society.

Linguistic usage in the legal atmosphere at the UN used to be somewhat different. When the UN was formed, any involvement of private individuals or groups in its work constituted deviation from the norm of diplomacy being the exclusive preserve of “states”. Thus, a national organization, as mentioned in Article 71 of the UN Charter, was any NGO based in a single country. No distinction was made between an organization that covered a large constituency, over the whole country, and an organization based solely in a local community or a small section of the population. The lack of any distinction did not matter, as participation by either country-wide or more limited national NGOs was so rare in the permanent UN organs. Participation began on a small scale in the 1970s at UN conferences, on an ad hoc basis. When the ECOSOC rules were changed in 1996, to admit “national NGOs” to consultative status as a matter of routine, the presumption became that a national organization was a country-wide membership organization or a federation of local groups or an umbrella group, that is a coalition of NGOs operating in different fields. As is common at the UN, practice has not been consistent: a few local NGOs have been admitted as “national NGOs” to consultative status. The Rio conference also produced a term that has only been used in environmental politics at the UN. “Major Groups” refers to a system of categorising NGOs from all levels, for the purposes of participating in UN policy-making processes.

Hereafter, use of NGO alone will imply that any or all levels are included, while local, national or global will be used when the meaning must be restricted to that level. Terms such as CBOs and Major Groups will also be used in the appropriate political context.

UNEOIF, the foundation is focused on bettering the lives of indigent members of their community and, in the training and building up capacities of budding businessmen and women among them, as well as in the provision of succour and the way out for the unemployed through job creation, and assistance in securing employments in the available job space.

This practice if replicated in diverse forms and formats, especially amongst the privileged in our communities, will greatly reduce, unemployment, boost job creation and new business formation through entrepreneurship, which will by aggregation be promoting new business formations, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, wealth creation and employment generation, that ultimately impacts greatly to the revamping of our economy and by extension reduces poverty and crime. More of such organisations are encouraged therefore to be setup by all that have the capacity, for it will be a plus to our society, as it promotes egalitarian living and equanimity, which is a booster to any economy and society development.

You can contact me for business advisory services and training – send me a message via WhatsApp or SMS.

•Lawrence Nwaodu is a small business expert and enterprise consultant, trained in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Management School, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and MSc in Finance and Financial Management Services from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands. Mr. Nwaodu is the Lead Consultant at IDEAS Exchange Consulting, Lagos. He can be reached via nwaodu.lawrence@hotmail.co.uk (07066375847).

Source News Express

Posted 14/02/2017 05:16:54 AM

 

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