Timothy Nourse, President and CEO, Making Cents International
How often has your organization designed and implemented a program only to find that it failed to reach the intended population? There is a growing awareness that people from marginalized, underrepresented groups (i.e., children and youth facing adversity, racial/ethnic/religious minorities, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, persons with unmet mental health needs, LGBTQI+ people, and/or people in vulnerable situations) often find difficulty accessing programs intended to provide assistance. They are unintentionally left behind. International actors, such as USAID, the United Nations, and others, have made inclusivity and equity an integral part of their programming, because without a conscious effort to close those gaps from the start, activities can do more harm than good.
Living up to our values as a certified B Corporation, Making Cents has joined these efforts. We are more intentional about awareness, equity, and inclusion in our programming, and we work with our partners to reduce power imbalances, articulate and document best practices, provide inclusive development assessments, and create benefits for a diverse range of stakeholders.
Since 2020, through the Collective Action to Reduce Gender-Based Violence (CARE-GBV) activity,, Making Cents has developed guidelines, strategic plans, training courses, and professional networking support to strengthen USAID’s programming to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV). CARE-GBV has created learning materials, such as The Foundational Elements for Gender-Based Violence Programming in Development, 10 How-to Notes on GBV-programming, as well as resources on child, early, and forced marriage and unions and female genital mutilation/cutting.
Five conditions for collective impact in GBV programming.
How-to Note Series #10, USAID’S CARE-GBV
Power imbalances and violence remain pervasive barriers to equality—one in three women are subjected to GBV and frequently lack equal access to economic resources. Addressing GBV is a vital aspect of inclusion, because it not only affects the individuals who experience it, but also undermines economic stability and security at the national level. One way Making Cents responds to this challenge is by influencing private capital flows to mitigate the prevalence of GBV. Under the USAID-funded Incorporating Gender-Based Violence in Assessing Investment Risk activity, the MicroInsurance Center at Milliman and Making Cents developed the GBV-Aware Investing Tool. The purpose of the tool is to help institutional investors, political risk insurance providers, and other financial institutions gain an understanding of GBV within certain industries and countries, which they can incorporate into their portfolio construction processes and engagement with investees.
In addition to addressing gender disparities, Making Cents implements USAID’s Inclusive Development Activity for Mission Support (IDAMS) to support the improvement of equitable prosperity for people from disadvantaged communities and advance the rights of people from marginalized groups. Through IDAMS, Making Cents works hand-in-hand with USAID’s Inclusive Development Hub to expand awareness of power dynamics, foster inclusive mindsets, and embed practices that combat stigma and discrimination, promote empowerment, and improve the lives of underrepresented communities. We provide inclusive development analyses to map the context and needs of marginalized groups through an intersectional lens. This involves technical assistance to include the voices of vulnerable populations in co-creation processes, project design, and implementation as well as specialized expertise to build the evidence base, disseminate evidence, and foster a community of practice around inclusive development.
Making Cents also supports USAID’s localization agenda by serving as the capacity-strengthening partner to Grupa Izadji, a Serbian youth-led LGBTQI+ organization. As the prime implementing partner of the USAID-funded Let’s Work Together Activity, Grupa Izadji advances diversity, equity, and inclusion in Serbia’s workplaces and business communities to address the widespread discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in Serbia and their exclusion from economic markets, vital services, and political spaces. A World Bank 2017 report highlighted that it “is a development challenge; not only because discrimination is inherently unjust, but also because there are substantial costs—social, political, and economic—to not addressing the exclusion of entire groups of people.” Tackling this challenge from an economic perspective includes fostering an environment that increases employment potential for LGBTQI+ youth, expands opportunities for LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs, and reduces workplace discrimination.
Making Cents provides a broad suite of organizational development services to Grupa Izadji’s leadership and staff to strengthen systems and sustain progress in quality service delivery. We also advise Grupa Izadji on implementing a learning agenda to improve understanding of the challenges LGBTQI+ people face and the impact of Let’s Work Together’s interventions.
All these standalone efforts are just a small contribution to incorporating inclusive programming into development work. When combined, however, implementing partners’ and funders’ commitment and action to establish equitable systems can create a powerful positive impact on the difficult task of meaningfully advancing equity and inclusion.