CARE: ‘Our best innovations come from those we work with’

When emergencies occur, CARE’s extensive network allows the organization to respond quickly. The innovative CARE Emergency Toolkit ensures that staff working emergencies have quick and easy reference to protocols, guidelines and checklists. Photo by: Evelyn Hockstein / CARE

CARE was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of global development professionals who are part of Devex, the largest network of aid and relief workers in the world.

Announced on April 18, Devex Top 40 Development Innovators is an impressive listing of the world’s leading donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups.

We asked each of the Innovators four questions to learn how they stay ahead to the curve and tackle old development challenges in new ways. Here’s how CARE responded:

‘CARE believes that our best innovations come from those we work with – women and men living in poverty around the world. They have the power to change the world’

If you had to condense it to just one or two sentences, overall, what is it that makes your organization innovative?

CARE believes that our best innovations come from those we work with – women and men living in poverty around the world. They have the power to change the world and it is our task to help them do it.

Can you provide a specific example of something your organization has done that is particularly innovative?

In 1991, in a village in southern Niger, CARE developed a way to harness a traditional African practice of group savings, in which community members pooled together their resources to create a kind of village bank. Today, CARE’s approach using Village Savings and Loan Associations allows even very poor communities to start small businesses and lift their families and communities out of poverty.

Another example is the CARE Emergency Toolkit. This is a print and online handbook with easy reference to protocols, tools, guidelines and checklists for emergency response in all our fields, be it logistics, gender, media, safety and security and so forth. The Emergency Toolkit was created to build emergency capacity and is used by CARE’s emergency staff worldwide. CAREbelieves in sharing our knowledge, and the toolkit is open to all members of the public and any agency in the humanitarian field.

Looking ahead 10 years, what are some of the innovations in international development that your organization wants to be a part of?

CARE’s work is guided by the people in the communities we work with. Looking forward, we are strengthening our advocacy on behalf of those people, and we strive to be an organization where the global south has a strong and influential voice in our governance. This year, we came one step closer in welcoming CARE India into the CARE confederation as affiliate members. Ten years ahead, we will have even more Southern members on board.

One factor in driving innovation at any organization is the talent you hire and the partnerships you make. How does your organization take into account innovation when it comes to cultivating talent and partners?

Ninety-seven percent of CARE employees are local – citizens of the country where they work. It is CARE’s guiding principle to build local capacity and foster local knowledge, whether they are own staff or colleagues from a partner organization. The best innovations come from the women and men in the communities we work with. They trust our staff and partners – and together they find innovative ways to eradicate poverty.

Check out the full listing of all Devex Top 40 Development Innovators on Facebook.

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