Development cooperation

Pontis Foundation operates in southeastern Kenya. Currently we are implementing our third project in Taita Taveta.

We take the concept of “cooperation” as distinguished from “aid” in development cooperation seriously, and believe its benefits and social innovations can go both directions and be beneficial for all countries involved. The fact that most of the time the cooperation is asymmetric doesn’t run contrary to this new paradigm. We also don’t equate mutually beneficial cooperation with the need for reciprocity - as with the outdated “tied aid” approach, where beneficiaries need to procure services from the donor country to benefit its companies. 

The example of this line of thinking is our Slovak – Kenyan Cooperation for Modern Schools, where we support 12 secondary schools in Taita Taveta in IT and business education. At our 12 Sote ICT Clubs students established so far 28 training firms where they simulate doing business with other Kenyan and Slovak training firms. Our graduates then receive further training and incubation support at our Sote Hub that we opened in 2015. Kenyan Sote Hub members are also in position to actually help younger Slovak students with their training companies and business education. This is the example of different paradigm where we don’t take Kenyan partners as “less developed   beneficiaries” that only need to be assisted. The cooperation is still asymmetric in financial terms but the benefits of expertise and social innovations as well as future opportunities go both ways.  Our approach was critically examined through discourse analysis by Tomas Profant in the article titled “The Pontis Foundation: Partly Disrupting the Development Discourse Through Partnership” published in the journal Forum for Development Studies.  

We also study the approaches that try to go beyond development cooperation and follow the discussion on effective altruism and policy coherence for development. We believe that tools such as social business, corporate responsibility and open data can help to make development cooperation more transparent and start a race to the top in terms of pushing countries to be more responsible global citizens. 

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