The Townships Project A Canadian non-profit jumpstarting business in South
African townships through microlending, microfranchising
and asset based community development.
Canadian Charitable Registration Number (86418 8420 RR0001).
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South Africa - Asset Based Community Development


Asset Based Community Development

Micro Franchising

Through its work since 1999, The Townships Project has come to realize the unique challenges of micro-lending in South Africa.  While continuing to support microlending, both directly and indirectly, we are also exploring the benefits of asset-based community development or ABCD.

Using ABCD, a community assesses its own assets – human, physical, social, financial and natural – making an inventory of what it has.  These assets will include knowledge, experience, talents and skill, associations within the community and its diaspora, local institutions, physical assets and natural resources, financial and cultural assets and rights, claims and entitlements from the state.  For many communities, the experience of mapping its assets is a revelation: they are amazed to realize how much they actually have to work with.  With a clear idea of its assets, the community then focuses on its income – from wages, transfers from the diaspora, government transfers, and other sources.  Again, many communities are amazed to realize how much income they have to work with.

And then they examine what they are doing with both assets and income.  How can they use what they have to get what they want and need?  How much of the income that comes into the community is spent outside it instead of circulating within to build community resources?

The income that the community identifies as coming in is said to “go into the bucket”.  Then the community calculates how much of that income is spent and circulated within the community, and how much is spent outside – how much “leaks out of the bucket”.  The more money that is spent within the community and recycled within the community, the better off the community will be.  From this “leaky bucket” exercise, the community can devise a plan to keep more of its income within its borders, in order to increase its economic wellbeing.  For most communities, this is a “light bulb” experience.

A community, which has concluded that it will benefit by keeping more of its income through having a bakery, a dressmaking shop, a grocery store, egg and poultry production or some other businesses, has a reason to lend support to community members who start these businesses.  The Townships Project is exploring this through an informal partnership with the Greater Rustenburg Community Foundation (GRCF), encouraging its microlending partners to welcome the spread of ABCD into the communities of their borrowers.

GRCF introduced ABCD into the community of Mathopestat in November, 2009.  New businesses resulted immediately, without even the need for outside capital, although that is likely to follow.  Progress in Maphotestat can be followed on the GRCF website.

ABCD is a key philosophy behind the Coady International Institute (“Coady”) at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  The South African experience of ABCD is being driven by the keen support of Coady.  Coady held a key symposium during the summer of 2009 on ABCD, information on which can be found on Coady’s website.

There is interest being expressed in various South African government departments and we are following the rapid spread of this initiative with interest.  We will be reporting developments here from time to time.

News & Events News

2017 January/February SA Franchise Magazine Article
March 28, 2017
Read more

2016 Annual Giving Letter
March 28, 2017
Read more

2015 Annual Giving Letter
January 5, 2016
Read more

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