Oxfam to split headquarters, welcome new associate members

Oxfam will move its headquarters from Oxford, United Kingdom, to a split between Nairobi, Kenya, and Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by: Mongkhonsawat Luengvorapant / Oxfam / CC BY-NC-ND

Oxfam International will move its headquarters from Oxford, United Kingdom, to a split between Nairobi, Kenya, and Bangkok, Thailand. But it won't be before 2017 at the earliest, the international NGO's chief executive has revealed.

Speaking to Devex on the sidelines of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Women conference in London, Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring confirmed plans reported by Devex in May, which challenge the typical division of labor among large international development organizations that focus their fundraising on the global north to implement projects in the global south.

Goldring said Nairobi would be the main hub for the international arm of the organization, and also confirmed Oxfam International would grow by eight affiliated organizations by 2020.

In October, the NGO announced Oxfam South Africa as its first associate member; Oxfam Brazil is next in line.

The arrangement means Oxfam South Africa is “effectively a member” because it exists as a legal entity, Goldring said, but the newest associate member is still on probation as it continues to develop its own governance and fundraising.

Oxfam is conducting feasibility studies in a number of other countries to decide on the next affiliated organizations.

The phased approach is necessary because the strategy is an expensive model of operation, Goldring noted, and Oxfam is committed to working with its affiliates to develop fundraising and governance strategies.

“You can’t do all of that at once,” he explained. “So we’ve got to balance the development of those new affiliates with delivering our existing programs and getting the model right and learning from it.”

The goal is that Oxfam will be a more north-south balanced organization “so that you’re having voices around every table from different parts of the world,” he said.

Oxfam International has approximately 50 staff members currently working out of its headquarters in Oxford, United Kingdom.

Do you think more international NGOs should move their headquarters to the global south? If so, where? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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    Gabriella Jóźwiak

    Gabriella Jóźwiak is an award-winning journalist based in London. Her work on issues and policies affecting children and young people in developing countries and the U.K. has been published in national newspapers and magazines. Having worked in-house for domestic and international development charities, Jóźwiak has a keen interest in organizational development, and has worked as a journalist in several countries across West Africa and South America.