According to The free online dictionary, grassroots means:
of or involving the common people as constituting a fundamental political and economic group; "a grassroots movement for nuclear disarmament"
A grassroots movement is a movement from the bottom up, a movement in which the real stakeholders are involved and actively voice their opinion and work together to bring about change. The term "grassroots" has gained popularity in the non-profit world, however in many cases the real 'common people' are not reached by those grassroots, because they lack the capacity to connect and are largely invisible to the media and the world so that non-profits (who need to justify their every action to their sponsors) don't have an incentive to reach out to them.
On kindmankind.net, we talk about "true" grassroots. What we want to express is this: In empoverished communities, rural and urban alike, there is a lot of potential among the common people that becomes visible to institutions only when they have gone through a tough struggle. We believe that we should support these true grassroots initiatives more in the fragile stadium of their inception.
To be sure, there are a number of excellent non-profits supporting social entrepreneurs, most notably Ashoka, the organisation that coined the term "changemaker". As you might have read on other kindmankind-pages, there are also a lot of very good internet platforms where young local NGO's, once established, can publish their profiles, fundraise and apply for grants.
We think that the rapid development of internet technology allows us to take this one step further and to help those true grassroots by identifying them in a very early stage, giving them important support to make sure more of them make it onto these platforms and become possible candidates for beautiful coincidences.
Coincidences? Yes, the concept we propose is not a Masterplan for development support. Rather, we want to level the playing field of interconnectedness. By doing so, we create the very possibility that a skilled professional traveling for whatever reason connects to an initiative that needs their help. A nurse from Kansas, while on vacation in Nepal, finds a struggling community clinic (not just the ones already mighty enough to launch their own website) and she sets up an "air-bridge" support of clean needles. She knows them because another vacationer wrote about it on an internetplatform that specializes in making such connections.
A German construction worker spontaneously teaches a two-week course of a special technique to local builders in Tanzania - builders that are 'common people' and never heard of NGO's. He knowns about this because a Kenyan pastor noticed the local builders were interested and suggested to put their "initiative" on the map on such a platform.
Unlikely? Let's find out!
We actively challenge serendipity to produce more such beautiful, inspiring and changemaking stories.
We are currently gathering such stories to find out whether we are right. Join us...