Named as one of Foreign Policy Magazine's "100 women to follow on Twitter," Jennifer Lentfer has worked with over 300 grassroots organizations in east and southern Africa over the past decade. Focused on organizational development and learning, she has served with various international organizations in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, and the U.S. Today she works to place grassroots-driven development initiatives, which can be more genuinely responsive to local needs, at the forefront of international aid.
Enhancing the practice of facilitating the development of sovereign local organizations and social movements in the developing world.
Larger-scale financial support of local initiatives, grassroots leadership and small, often “informal” movements in the developing world is a way to transform the current aid system, and the world. When grassroots groups are the setters of priorities, the controllers of resources, and thus the drivers of development, donors can help build local sovereignty through small grants programs. This change in approach can also enable donors better identify, leverage, and scale the efforts of respected local leaders who have the sustained commitment, effort and insights (just not the resources) to make sustainable, long-term changes at the community level.
Unleashing the power of grassroots groups in the developing world.
"Showing" pigs at the county fair as a child. I was junior show[wo]manship champion in Thayer County, Nebraska.
I've always said that it was easier for me to move to rural Zimbabwe than to Detroit. This farm girl turned aid worker's deep sense of community enables me to understand and explain the vital role of local leadership and ownership in making international aid more effective. In working with international NGOs and philanthropies over the years, I found myself continually frustrated by the limitations of donor-controlled, project-based funding. Today I work to place community-driven development initiatives, which can be more genuinely responsive to local needs, at the forefront of aid.
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