You Say Competitor, We Say Collaborator: Why International Development is Unique

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July 10, 2013

By Kimberly Davies. Cross-posted from Kiva.

Many industries view similar or related organizations as competitors. I’d like to think that the international development industry is unique in viewing others as collaborators. Since everyone in this industry is working toward a common goal—poverty alleviation—everyone is constantly looking for ways to share findings and learn from each other. Our biggest concern is reaching a common, hugely important mission. Since this desire outreaches any other concerns, proprietary material often does not exist. Discussing failures is encouraged. This may be counterintuitive to impressing funders, but luckily nowadays usually is not the case.

My first job was with Freedom from Hunger, an organization that would commonly state that “our goal is to put ourselves out of business.” They wanted to end world hunger and make themselves obsolete. How many other industries can you say are full of people working around the clock to try to put themselves out of a job?

Grameen Foundation and Kiva have similar passions. They have partnered for many years in a number of ways to support each other as well, from leveraging funds to volunteers. Last week, we hosted our first joint learning session in San Francisco, aimed to share learnings and product information from our own organizations and that of our partners. We focused on the need for good financial products, practices to build the right products, enabling environments required for success, and shared a number of very cool product examples. In this short blog series, we’d like to share some of the key items discussed at that event, and are interested to get your feedback.

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