The Clearing House Meets Belarusian CSOs in Brest

The Clearing House team continues its series of regional trainings aimed at building capacity of local CSOs.  A meeting “How to Develop and Implement a Successful Project” was held on 28 January 2014 in Brest bringing together  organisations from Kobryn, Belaazerk, Malaryta, and other towns of the region. 

It was clear from the very beginning that the number of applicants would exceed the amount of participants we were able to accommodate. In general, based on our experience up to date the greater demand for such services is observed in the Brest and Homel Regions, with the number of applicants twice surpassing the number of places available.

Altogether more than 30 CSO representatives from different organisations took part in the meeting. The hand-out materials prepared by local experts and the CH consultants will be also sent to those organisations whose applications we regrettable had to reject. The agenda of the event had been previously tested in Homel, Mahilioiu, and Hrodna, and adjusted with regards to the local needs and specifics.

One of the aims of such events is to help the smaller organisations from the regions to overcome psychological barriers that prevent them from participating in the Commission’s Calls for proposals. Additionally, such meetings facilitate establishing contacts between different CSOs, demonstrate the examples of successful project implementation from their region and offer counselling support of the professionally trained consultants. 

These time the local expert at the event was the “Businesswomen Club”, one of the oldest organisations of such kind in the region known for its campaigning against human trafficking, and prevention of domestic violence against women and children.  The Director of the organisation, Larysa Istomava, shared her  experience in writing and implementing successful international projects, gave an example of their work with different  target groups, and cooperation with governmental institutions and private companies, while her colleague, Ludmila Volkova, covered such topic as ‘gender’ as a cross-cutting issue in the so-called gender neutral (or gender blind) projects. (The presentation in Russian can be found at this link)
The key part of the seminar became general project management starting from the project idea to monitoring the Action’s results. A lot of attention was paid to the logical framework approach - the language of project applications in the majority donor organisations.

The Clearing House consultants, Yulia Stankevich and Maksim Karliuk, prepared practical exercises dedicated to different parts of the logical matrix and the participants earlier divided into several groups were supposed to choose the correct answer as well as proof their choice.

Yulia Stakevich and Maxim Karliuk of the Clearing House

How to approach and understand  correctly the needs of  a target groups, how not to mix the objective and the means to achieve it, what are the most common mistakes  made by organisations while applying for the Commission’s calls for proposals – these and many other issues were covered by the CH Project consultants.

Yulia Stankevich gladly noticed that all the participants were highly motivated. “It is crucial for civic society organisations to develop new projects aimed at improving the condition of their target groups,” Yulia said. “Based on the results of a mini-survey conducted at the meeting, most participants marked the logical framework as an essential part of the training that means the organisations do recognise the importance of comprehensive activities planning,” she added. 

Another consultant, Maxim Karliuk, also noticed the “easiness” to work with the organisations from Brest. “All participants were very active… And the difference in knowledge and experience only played into the hand of the organisers. Those most skilful became the leaders and helped their colleagues while working in the groups” Maksim said.

Elena Kharasheuskaya, Bureau for Organisational Consulting

 At the end of the meeting, the consultants suggested a review of the currently open calls for proposals. Regional coordinator of the Support Programme for Belarus by the German Federal Government in Brest, Anatol Lysiuk, informed the participants about the Programme’s plans and priorities, while the project manager of the Bureau for Organisational Consulting, Alena Kharasheuskaya, told the audience about the possibilities offered by this initiative to civil society organisations.

Anatol Lysiuk, Regional Coordinator of the Support Programme for Belarus Development by teh German Federal Government

All experts noticed the importance to overcome the widely spread stereotypes among Belarusian organisations  on “ impossible complexity”  of the project applications for the Commission’s calls, donor orientation towards specific organisations only, and unavailability of state institutions and private companies for cooperation with CSOs. They stressed the need of constant contact with the the target groups and adjustments of the programming activities towards the needs of the later and more active cooperation with other organisations.
We fully acknowledge that one-day long event cannot address all the aspects of project preparation and would like to pay organisations’ attention that more counselling help can be provided via the Clearing House consultants. One can order a free of charge consultation via submitting this electronic form.

The next meeting of the series will take place on 13 February in Vitebsk. The organisations from this region are welcome to apply.

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