Principles for Design & Development

Community Insights on Principle 4: Build for Sustainability

icon-principle4On Thursday, November 20th, 2014, Catholic Relief Services hosted an interactive session on the fourth Principle for Digital Development, Build for Sustainability. Carol Bothwell and Afsaneh Najafzadeh from CRS facilitated a discussion around understanding financial and operational sustainability, why partnership is critical to creating sustainable ICT4D solutions, types of partnerships and how to identify and establish them, and how to achieve a balance between sustainability and the other principles.

Highlights of the discussion are captured below.  Does this content resonate with you? Are there aspects of the discussion that you would modify? Join the discussion using the comments section on this page.

  • Carefully consider what long-term financial investments, like system maintenance and support, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation, are necessary to achieve sustainability of operations.
  • Anticipate essential non-monetary resources, like trust and buy-in, will be necessary to achieve sustainability of ownership after the pilot phase.
  • Ensure incentives are aligned by testing and confirming the value proposition for all stakeholders in the ecosystem: public, non-profit, private sector, delivery agents, households, and individuals.
  • Think local: local experts are better suited to localizing content and implementing support, and localized business models are more likely to succeed.
  • Keep it simple: the simpler the value chain, the more likely the success.
  • Identify what ongoing funding types are necessary as a project evolves: seed funding, as for a pilot project which results in a system that pays for itself after initial implementation (such as through cost savings); gap funding, as to bridge to scale after which it pays for itself; or ongoing funding from an economic buyer that derives continuing value from the solution.
  • Partner, partner, partner: Engage the government and the local private sector actors which have an interest in the communities the system is designed to serve.
  • Think about how outputs become impact: what resources are necessary to empower local stakeholders to drive decisions and make change? What methods are needed to monitor the local environment and adjust the system as the environment changes?

You can also download a PDF of the Community Discussion document here.

One thought on “Community Insights on Principle 4: Build for Sustainability

  1. Building on sustainability should be the key concept to apply in microfinance activities. In my Group we have taken above model as a guideline, after decades of uncontrolled growth of related activities. Basel III document on microfinance has emphasised this approach and the regulations issued by the central banks have made it happen.

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