Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa. The population is rural and young; approximately 43% are under age 15. 39% of the population live below the poverty line and 16% live in extreme poverty. The communities included in this project share common difficulties; poor access to infrastructure, infertile lands, and low household income. Spark’s village strengthening process combines capacity building with a microgrant. No interest or repayment of the funds granted is requested.
The five communities based in Rulindo district have partnered with Spark and each elected to launch a cattle-rearing project. The aim of this project is to use the cows’ manure to increase crop yield during harvest. Responsibilities for feeding, maintaining, and guarding the cattle are divided out amongst the community with leaders for each elected by members.
33 cows for 5 communities, benefiting 3,100 individuals in 742 households.
Facilitation of community building and proposal development.
Improved soil and crop yield from manure
Increase in diversity of crop
Increased household income, leading to ability to pay for healthcare, cover school fees, and better household construction.
Increase in community members advocating to government entities for additional resources
Spark’s facilitated funding approach is a streamlined replicable method for strengthening the foundations of a community. There are six key phases in the Spark approach where community members envision their future together, plan towards that future and develop tangible goals to achieve their vision.
Spark's approach begins with the recruitment of a local university graduate who is enrolled in a facilitator fellowship program. Over the course of two years, facilitators take seven communities through the Spark approach:
Spark Microgrants was founded in 2010 to prove community-driven development can be done at scale. Spark has designed a novel approach for launching communities facing poverty into action and has partnered with over 150 villages across Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ghana. Of the village projects backed by Spark, 94 percent are sustaining, 77 percent have launched secondary projects independently of Spark and 90 percent have continued to host regular community meetings where they discuss important topics, such as land disputes and new initiatives. These metrics indicate Spark partner communities graduate from the process with a commitment to continued local change.