Amidst the many crises, there is hope

Reana is the owner of Next Generation, a leading management consultant firm that develops high-impact business and development models to deliver a high return on investment for stakeholders.

Covid-19 has very clearly shown us the fault lines in our sector. We were not only unprepared to deal with the crisis that caught us off-guard, but the disconnection between the main stakeholders – government, the funders and the implementers – has also had dire consequences. Government has made, and is still making, decisions that completely ignore the sector. As a result, NGOs are struggling to survive, and as our country is hit with one crisis after the next, the picture looks bleaker than ever.

However, we also underestimate the sector’s resilience, as well as the generosity of the general consumers who give of their time and resources. Covid-19 has taught us that if we rally together, persist in the face of impossible circumstances, and support each other, miracles can happen.

During Covid-19, organisations had to come up with creative ways to survive and, as a result, harnessed technology and other means to streamline their operations, raise funds, and reach thousands of beneficiaries through technology, where they were previously only reaching hundreds or fewer. These were steps in the right direction and would not have happened if it weren’t for Covid.

We have 260 000 NGOs in South Africa and, despite this huge number, systemic issues are becoming worse, not better! We need to ask ourselves what else we should we be doing differently.

My answer is simple: We need organisations that are efficient and well-organised to focus on the most pressing systemic issue in our country: unemployment. Focusing on things like sport development is not what our country needs right now. We first need to face this gigantic unemployment issue head-on, and then the answers to all the other problems will start falling into place too.

We still have a long way to go, but the good news is that the reformation and restructuring that our sector needs, has finally begun.

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