How would you recognize an IDEAS training or technical assistance team? It has at least one younger female professional with a passport from a developing country teamed with older professional. Why do we always promote co-facilitators when other agencies send just one trainer?
Despite the fact that we have internationally recognized experts from North America or Europe who could easily do a job alone, we do not send them alone. Why?
IDEAS believes it is critically important for women and men from developing countries to become experts in microfinance and microenterprise development, to better understand and meet the needs of their clients, and to become recognized evaluators in their own region.
We invest in capacity training of younger persons. Even if a non-profit organization or financial institution that hires us only pays for one person, we take two team members, one of whom is a developing country national, and pay for that person out of the fee paid to the more experienced person. Why do we make this financial sacrifice? Because we do not want to miss the opportunity for mentoring young people. We believe that the team will be stronger because of its diversity, and we want to give the less experienced person a chance to learn so that she or he can later lead a team.
Often our female trainers and consultants provide professional services to older male managers. This sometimes causes initial concern in countries where patriarchal traditions are strong. In Guatemala, for example, the senior managers of one organization, who were all male, would say, “the women of IDEAS recommended this,” as a way to signal to their peers a lower importance of our evaluators’ recommendations for needed change in their organization. But the managers soon came to appreciate that we had brought persons who might have been less well known and of a different gender than the common “management consultant” but who were able to provide new insights to their organization and new products that would be more attractive to their clients.
IDEAS provides training and field work opportunities for younger consultants and trainers, especially those from developing countries, to develop their skills to help managers to better assist their poor clients. We do this by:
- Placing special emphasis on capacity building of female consultants and trainers from developing countries.
- Arranging training and field work opportunities for younger consultants, accompanying more experienced mentors.
- Developing and teaching academic programs for students in international development as well as managers of microfinance institutions who are working on graduate degrees.
- Providing training programs oriented to the specific needs of practitioners, ranging from senior managers to field staff.
- Developing multi-course annual training institutes in a particular region.
IDEAS welcomes donations for its capacity building activities. A family foundation in the state of Georgia whose directors are all women provided IDEAS with 3 years of funding to improve the capacity of younger women professionals affiliated with two of our Central American offices. One of them later got a full-time job running the regional office of a major MFI in El Salvador. Others who received our training and mentoring emerged from unemployment or underemployment to become respected consultants in Nicaragua and neighboring countries. One woman who had been seeking a full-time job for months in the formal sector of El Salvador finds great fulfillment in working for IDEAS to help other underemployed women find consulting and training jobs. We are privileged to help those who are in a position to hire consultants or staff to discover the talents of people who have been overlooked in the formal job market.