Data & Research

Succeed With SICs

What are Socioeconomic Improvement Consultancy Firms (SICs)? 

Lukmanu Whumbi, A Rice Farmer in Northern GhanaThe principle of Socioeconomic Improvement Consultancy (SIC)
SICs are alternatives to NGOs with certain private sector characteristics, whose efforts in helping communities achieve their development goals are based on ideas of self-reliance, less foreign capital dependence, less foreign expertise dependence, and proper examination and application of local resources, while encouraging individual profit venturing in the process. They are income-generating ventures that prioritize local ownership, community impact and uplift, as well as sustainability rather than profit accumulation. They are fundamentally based on social capital and people’s willingness to work for themselves. Unlike in cooperate responsibility where giant conglomerates are expected to look back give to communities from their profits or in the aid sector where capital is freely acquired from elsewhere, the SIC principle generates capital locally, outsource aid sector funding for environmental, emergency, cultural, educational and social projects for the improvement of surroundings. However, livelihood projects and ownership initiatives are strictly based on individual or in some cases communal efforts. The unique difference between SICs on the one hand and the private and philanthropic sectors on the other is its ability to foster both private ownership and communal agendas.

Why a Change to SICs is necessary

 Africa’s experience with the international aid sector is one that is definitely deeper than a mere effort to assist struggling economies achieve their development goals. The historical importance of the relation accompanies any Western efforts in Africa. Initially, the tendency to marginalize such important as issues political interest and history in the whole dynamics while to quickly promoting economic development was seen as a faster way to give genuine support, make amends with history and maintain relations. Fundamental questions such as what will be the agreed definitions of important terminologies such “development” was not pondered upon.

Sooner, the international community found itself in a position where development pacesetters were creating prototypes of European economies in Africa instead of assisting Africans in a self-evolving economic development process; accountability was far too less a priority as opposed to political interests and the need to be seen as saviors. Consequently, the system made it possible to serve the interests of few individuals while the masses suffered. This accordingly affected the belief and opinion on development issues in the publics of both Western and African countries.

With the global power differentials on the side of the Western public, it was easy for most people there claim being victimized based on how much of their tax moneys have gone into Africa and how little these have achieved. The African public, with all it’s practical evidence of victimization through imperial history and current systemic injustices, is still being forced to show gratitude for every “philanthropy” poured into the continent, regardless of whether it is serving Africa right or not.

However, with widespread technological advancement and frequent migration across the globe, the pursuance and dependence on philanthropic gestures in Africa have become redundant and need urgent reconsideration. This is primarily because not only do they take away the integrity of bread-winners in families, they also take away the incentive for people to strive for self-reliant ventures as they bring in easily-accessed funds that are hardly possible to account locally for.

Nonetheless, it is imperative to note that due to lack of capital within local communities, the SIC system allow limited foreign capital into particular ventures, however, stakes of outside partners must never exceed 40% in order to help ground local ownership, proper impact and sustainability. Ideally, the SIC system accept incoming donor funds for environmental projects and indirect capacity building in order to create the conducive atmosphere that these local ventures may need to flourish. However, direct philanthropic funds are not allowed into the works of SICs.

Since small and medium scale operations are the backbones of sustainable economies, this approach is necessary in order to ensure divesture from the predominance of aid to self-reliant ventures. NGOs have recently tried to diversify and provide funding to community based organizations or support them with capacity building tools for them to take the lead in implementing development projects. But these have rarely yielded any tangible results in comparison former approaches in which the NGOs were innately involved.

 Why Work with SICs at Community Level

  • SICs promote clear ownership strategies generated through incentives and locally imbedded accountability processes
  • SICs may initially need to mobilize a limited amount of capital from outside, but their long-term existence depends on internally mobilized resources. They as such quickens the process of community self-reliance
  • SICs promote local ownerships, prolonged impact, sustainability and prevents the dynamics of disenfranchisement
  • SICs reinforces local economic autonomies: thus taking a new direction towards lessening the dependency of local communities dependence global powers dynamics
  • SICs are rooted in local sociocultural contexts and values
  • SICs promote the repatriation of local expertise to Africa
  • SICs strengthen cultural sustainability: thus contributing against the dynamics of cultural homogeneity
  • SICs have high chances of local income generation
  • SICs create sustainable local employment opportunities
  • SICs create incentives for people to stay within their communities and reduce chances of labor and expertise migration
  • SICs are opportunities for lowering chances of social conflicts; in fact they can often be used as incentives for people to stay away from conflicts

Contact a.salisu@kemetconsulting.com or n.ackwonu@kemetconsulting.com for further information on how to access SIC expertise


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