Since their inception in 1965, Counterpart International has been driven by the vision that all people have the right and ability to drive their own destinies. Counterpart takes a building block approach with their local partners to support strong and more resilient communities by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and fostering multi-sector community partnerships.
Currently working in more than twenty countries, Counterpart International focuses on civil society and governance, health and nutrition, education, livelihoods, and climate resilience. While there are a multitude of programs, each focuses on strong and resilient communities as the foundation for sustainable growth.
Counterpart strongly believes that local leadership is at the center of every solution. Strong communities are built by strong leaders and Counterpart is focused on developing emerging leaders from traditionally marginalized groups like women, youth, indigenous peoples, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Building strong leaders and resilient communities, as well as building the capacity of local organizations, is at the core of what Counterpart do.
Local ownership of development is key for sustainable projects and communities. Counterpart uses three guidelines for ensuring the process of development remains rooted in local communities.
- Maintaining a role as a catalyst and facilitator: “Our role is to offer temporary guidance and resources that provide options and incentives for new ways of thinking and working. Re-aligned incentives determine whether people will try changing traditional behaviors; and they are even more essential for maintaining and spreading new behaviors.”
- Linking local partners to resources: “Our task is to facilitate linkages that allow people, communities or institutions to access key resources (partnerships, information, markets, finance and more).”
- ‘Angel’ investing: “Our resources are initial (and short-term) investments that generate proof of concept for the long-term investors. We work with local partners to identify where that ongoing investment will come from, whether public or private sector. And then we ensure that potential investors are at the table from the get-go.”
Using a system they call the cascading model — where organizations are trained in their methodology and then train others in their own networks — has helped pass forward the skills and knowledge that generate lasting impact in communities. Counterpart strongly believes that as individual organizations emerge as strong agents of change in their communities, the next level of impact comes when they find each other and work together to leverage knowledge and experiences. This model is about learning from the past, from both successes and failures, and using that knowledge to make more informed choices in the future all the while sharing everything with your network.
Sustainable progress is what ensures communities continue to thrive after the initial support of Counterpart has left. Most important is the development of networks that have linked communities together to carry on the valuable work they helped ignite and steward. Counterpart is committed to social sector network development to achieve the highest level of systematic change in every sector in which they work.