Health NGOs in Guyana Learn Financial Planning for Sustainability

[Participants in the Business Planning for Health Program in Guyana meet during the closing workshop’s “marketplace” event to pitch their business ideas to potential funders. (Photo credit: MSH)]Participants in the Business Planning for Health Program in Guyana meet during the closing workshop’s “marketplace” event to pitch their business ideas to potential funders. (Photo credit: MSH)

Many health-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world face resource challenges, including difficulty attracting new funding and a lack of capacity to plan, program, and account for increases in resources. Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in collaboration with the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Program Phase II (GHARP II), has helped six organizations in Guyana begin to confront these challenges through its Business Planning for Health (BPH) program.

In October 2011, GHARP II launched the BPH program with six USAID-funded NGOs in Guyana. The BPH program helps organizations develop a business plan to develop and launch an innovative, low-cost product or service that responds directly to the organizations’ target population’s needs.

The program helps NGO staff—particularly those working in organizations in need of financial self-sustainability—to think like entrepreneurs. Through the program, they learn to develop plans that, if funded, would allow them to offer new or existing products or services at a low cost to their clients. Participants learn how to demonstrate their organization’s financial stability, create a proposed budget, and make projections regarding the expected revenue they will generate over time from the new venture.

In Guyana, the community service organization, Hope for All, dreamed of offering a vocational training service that would also provide clinical services for out-of-school youth in Region 2. Another organization, Family Awareness Consciousness Togetherness (FACT), hoped to offer a nutritious, low-cost catering service for poor families, orphans, and vulnerable children in their community in Region 6.

These two organizations and four others began the BPH program at a five-day workshop in Georgetown where facilitators presented an extensive overview of the program, distributed the BPH materials, and helped the participants to begin developing their business plans. Following the launch, the teams collaborated virtually with MSH facilitators for six months to develop a complete business plan.

By the end of the virtual phase, four of the six organizations had completed their business plans. Marcia Kissoon, Finance and Accounting Manager for FACT, noted that during this time period, the teams “gained knowledge on how to create a proper market survey, the key things to look for when reaching out to target populations, and also [received] a crash course in accounting and finance reporting." The participants from Hope for All were able to secure a venue for the vocational training center, rent free, from the local government.

In May 2012, the four organizations regrouped at a three-day BPH closing workshop, where they developed marketing brochures and presentations to pitch their business plans at a USAID/GHARP II-hosted event. The BPH facilitators, GHARP II staff, USAID representatives, potential funders, and the local media attended this event. Each BPH participant presented part of their organization’s proposed business plan. “I never really knew in detail what these organizations did in our communities until now,” said one of the local funders present at the event.

Lauren Fraser is the executive director at Agape Network Inc., another NGO that participated in the BPH program. “Boy, were we not expecting the amount of work time and energy [that it took] to complete our business plans! But everything was very useful and the end was rewarding,” she said during her opening remarks at the event. She added that the program was, “invaluable, particularly in this time…when international funding [commitments are] changing so much.”

Hope for All, in addition to securing a venue for its training center, also received verbal commitments from Food for the Poor for equipment donations and from UNICEF for partial funding of the plan. FACT received verbal commitment from UNICEF to fund their business plan and set up a meeting with UNICEF to discuss the venture in more detail.

“The ultimate benefit [of these business plans] is really going to be felt, [not only in our organizations financially], but in the lives of the children and families in the communities [we] serve,” said Mrs. Fraser in her closing speech.