Institutional Strengthening Marketplace for Kenyan Civil Society Organizations

[Civil society organizations engage institutional strengthening vendors at the Institutional Strengthening Marketplace, Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: MSH) ]Civil society organizations engage institutional strengthening vendors at the Institutional Strengthening Marketplace, Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: MSH)

Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a critical role in delivering health services to the marginalized, poor, and underserved populations in Kenya. The Government of Kenya, in its Community Health Strategy (CHS), recognizes and supports a strong, strategic role for CSOs in community mobilization and delivering social and health services to achieve health outcomes. However, the impact of CSOs’ efforts on health outcomes at the community level has yet to reach its full potential.

The USAID-funded FANIKISHA Institutional Strengthening Project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in partnership with Pact Inc., Danya International, and the Regional AIDS Training Network, is working to strengthen the impact of CSOs’ health care contributions and to encourage a more strategic role for CSOs in Kenya. To achieve this objective, the project focuses on building the capacity of national-level CSOs in the areas of financial management, grant management, human resources, resource mobilization, leadership and governance, and advocacy. By the end of this five-year project (2011–2016), MSH envisions that CSOs will be empowered, ready and able to play a bolder and larger role in Kenya’s health sector.

Local capacity building resources are plentiful in Kenya. To connect CSOs to these resources, the FANIKISHA Project held the first Institutional Strengthening Marketplace in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 11, 2012. Similar to the numerous fish, cereal, and textile markets that sell those products in Kenya, the Institutional Strengthening Marketplace was a lively and colorful display of some of Kenya’s best capacity development products. Taking the form of an exhibition, the event provided a forum for more than 200 representatives from local CSOs to meet institutional strengthening service providers face-to-face, familiarize themselves with the products and services they offer, and engage on issues pertaining to institutional strengthening.

Professor Catherine Gachutha, a CSO participant, said that the forum “makes it much easier for CSOs to identify service providers.” Another CSO participant, Catherine Mwangi, said that having met vendors face-to-face, she now feels confident calling them. “We know FANIKISHA-approved vendors will deliver quality services.”

The face-to-face marketplace was one vital step towards enabling CSOs to become stronger actors working towards meeting Kenyan public health needs. To sustain this network, an online institutional strengthening marketplace is being developed to enable Kenyan CSOs and institutional strengthening providers to come together virtually to exchange services. Similar to the face-to-face marketplace, the online marketplace will be a forum for local vendors to market their institutional strengthening products and services to CSOs who will “buy” those that best meet their capacity development needs.