Domestic Resource Mobilisation: Pathway to Civil Society Sustainability in Ghana

Domestic Resource Mobilisation: Pathway to Civil Society Sustainability in Ghana

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On 1 November 2018, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) convened a consultative forum on Domestic Resource Mobilisation for Civil Society. In the meeting, over 25 civil society actors explored how social enterprise (SE) can serve as an avenue for domestic resource mobilisation in Ghana.

Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of WACSI reiterated the plight of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ghana. She said CSOs largely depend on external donors for funding. She expressed the need for CSOs to find creative and innovative strategies to increase domestic financing for their activities; one of which is a social enterprise.

According to Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, Accra chapter Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), “innovation and impact are two keys factors that determine the sustainability of any social enterprise”. Beyond the burning passion that characterises many young social entrepreneurs, there is a need to understand the realities of the social enterprise sector before engaging. He urged CSOs to be well prepared before engaging in SE ventures.

Many social entrepreneurs deal with the chronic stress of maintaining and growing their organisations. As highlighted by Kristine Pearson and Kyle Zimmer:

“nearly 50% of the social entrepreneurs attending the World Economic Forums Annual Meeting 2018 reported struggling with burnout and depression, a figure that is both alarming, especially considering these are the “most successful” and scaled social entrepreneurs[1]“.

This may be a different experience from that of a typical entrepreneur, who might not be emotionally bonded with those they exist to serve.

The need for CSOs to diversify their programmes to generate revenue that can cover some operational costs and boost their sustainability was also discussed. Through the case of the Northern Sector Action on Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), Alhassan Awal, Executive Director of the organisation presented the “opportunities, challenges and priorities for civil society in adopting the social enterprise model.”

NORSAAC is operating a social enterprise that has successfully mobilised resources and become financially sustainable. With a seed funding of ten thousand Ghana Cedis (GHS 10,000) invested by the organisation, it has been able to generate eighty-nine thousand Ghana Cedis (GHS89,000) over a period of three years. This is a situation that many Ghanaians CSOs will like to attain.

Even though financial sustainability is important, it’s not enough or effective without a conducive legal framework. For instance, “why is the Ghanaian law not allowing a company limited by guarantee to change its status to become a company limited by shares? While the opposite is actually possible”. This was raised by Teiko Sabah, Head of Programmes at STAR-Ghana. . According to her, there should be clear legal regulation to allow NGOs to develop profit-generating activities.

In Ghana, there are legislations covering the registration of businesses and NGOs and cooperative societies, but with no specific legal form for social enterprises.

Some factors that can promote CSOs’ successful adoption of social enterprise approaches include:

Digital technology: social entrepreneurs should strategically use digital media to create visibility for their business, attracting new clients, investors and partners.

Promote collaboration: There is a need to build collaboration, opportunities and trust among social enterprise and other private or public entities. It has been observed that partnership is the least common legal form of social enterprise in Ghana, according to the British Council’s report on Social Enterprise in Ghana[2].

Existing enabling environment for SE: The government of Ghana is ready for the conversation around social enterprise. CSOs should work with the government to develop a legal and policy environment favourable to CSOs to engage in SE. Thus, the necessity for CSOs to have a clear understanding of their role in the agenda that strives for a “Ghana Beyond Aid”.

Take advantage of opportunities: Another interesting opportunity for social entrepreneurs is the fact that there are enough problems in society to be solved and many are related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Social entrepreneurs should leverage on existing platforms such as the Social Enterprise Network in Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Centre for Impact Investment; the British Council[3]; Global Social Entrepreneurship Network[4] etc., to curate and share knowledge, network and learn new ways of creating and or scaling their impact.

This forum has fostered discussions around the social enterprise policy and its prospects for driving an enabling environment for domestic resource mobilisation for CSOs in Ghana. It has effectively increased participants’ knowledge of the opportunities and challenges of social enterprise in Ghana.

Roseline Lodonu, Project Coordinator at Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), who participated in the convening said that “this was also an eye-opener because it has given me an opportunity to think about what my organisation can do to sustain our activities. The first thing I learned was that it wasn’t just enough to identify problems but getting resources to solve these problems. The issue must be relevant for the people and the organisation in order sell and to sustain it. And, it should have a great social impact”

The discussion is ongoing. this convening was the first of a series that WACSI will organise with civil society actors, the government and the private sector. We are looking forward to the next convening with development partners.

[1] Kyle Zimmer and Kristine Pearson, ‘Social Entrepreneurs Can Change the World – but These 6 Things Are Holding Us Back’, World Economic Forum [accessed 2 November 2018].

[2] British Council, The State of Social Enterprise in Ghana, 2015 [accessed 11 January 2018].

[3] The British Council in Ghana is creating a platform for capacity-building in social entrepreneurship, addressing issues relating to policy, ecosystem building and research.

[4] A network of organisations supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs. It is partnering with Reach for Change (based in Ghana and in six other African countries) to up-skill and connect supporters across Africa.


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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.