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4Ps to Start and Run an NGO

These 4Ps sum up some of the main virtues to remember on the windy and overcast road of establishing an NGO:

1) Patience

Everything that has worth, takes time. This has been a personal and professional lesson that I have had to learn the hard way. In this age of instant communication and satisfaction, this virtue has to be cultivated consciously and with care. Patience is a practice. When Monica and I decided to start Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU), we knew that there would be hurdles and challenges, but without knowing what they would be (besides funding), we could not prepare wisely. Be patient with everything that comes on your path and have trust that it will all make sense that day you can calmly look back on where you started.

2) Playfulness

Let’s not forget why we do this work in the first place. To make the world a more equal, tolerant, and fun place to live in. With any work, the day-to-day nature can become boring and you wonder if your work is making any change. I remember one day I was working on our Kampala office on an ‘important’ document as four of our girls came by asking if I could teach them yoga. My first inclination was to tell them that ‘sorry I am so busy. Can we do it tomorrow?’. Then I asked myself, “why are you doing this work?”. I got up and taught a fun and playful yoga class. That is why we do what we do.

3) Passion

Passion is the fuel that drives any successful and impactful NGO. At the beginning, it is almost certain that all workers will have to operate as volunteers, unless one is blessed with financial backing from the beginning. I remember Monica telling me: ‘I don’t need money to start. You will see how I start to organize and educate the girls. The money will follow.’ And she was right. With our first donor, we got the support to expand our programs and begin to provide girls with meals and refreshments. From there we have been navigating the waters with passion as the driving force always. We do our work because we believe in the transformational powers of empowerment and education for girls. Because we have both experienced it ourselves and see the changes taking place everyday.

4) People Power

There aint no power like the power of the people!

This famous protest chant can also be used to illustrate that an organization is only as strong as the people behind it. Without people power as the driving force, nothing would be possible. In the case of GUIU, the organization would never exist if not for the power and dedication of the three founders, who also lent much support to one another along the journey. And people power has driven our organization to new heights as we have hired a #dreamteam of young people who believe so strongly in the transformational powers of empowerment and education for girls and youth. Without the power of our Girl Up coaches, nothing would be possible.

To my fellow dreamers and do’ers- as you bring one foot in front of the other on this overwhelming yet exciting path, please remember these 4Ps to guide and lead you. If you want to discuss further please comment below; I would love to hear from you!

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