REGIONAL June 25, 2015

MSM & Transgender Communities Paving the Way to Sustain their Income

With the prevailing social stigma and oppressive law, access to funding is difficult for the everyday heroes working for the community of sexual and gender minorities.

The sustainability of many community organisations in the region has been questionable. With the prevailing social stigma and oppresive law, access to funding is difficult for the everyday heroes working for the community of sexual and gender minorities. It is not uncommon that their work survive from project to project and then disappear altogether due to their inability to sustain their income.

In a constitutionally-Islamic country like Pakistan, the State does not collect any evidences, such as size estimation and incidence rate, relating to LGBT community. Muhammad Moiz of Lahore-based Naz Male Health Alliance considered that such data absence had become the barrier that stood between his community organization and the available funding out there. Donors unfortunately often ask supporting statistical evidence to comprehend the urgency of the funding his organisation seeks.

Lakhsya Trust, a GBT community organisation based in Gujarat, India, faces different concern. India’s national HIV funding, which often covered funding for LGBT advocacy, was drying up, said Sylvester Merchant, the programme manager. Sylvester added that the reduction of the State budget might be due to the new governments’ less political commitment to combat HIV, which was fueled by the common misconception of the national HIV prevalence reduction. While the country’s national prevalence is decreasing, the government is overlooking a higher burden of HIV among MSM and transgender population.

Thozhi, a transgender group that provides HIV prevention and community support based in Chennai, India, has different story. Being financially self-dependent has been part of the organisation’s culture, according to Jaya, the programme manager. Realizing that the local government may turn a blind eye to transgender community, Thozhi raises the fund through awareness-raising activities such as dance performance, and entrepreneurial activities like making and selling pottery and water painting. The hurdles, however, appearad when they tried to open a bank account. Banking’s complex registration procedure that Thozhi has to deal with discouraged them to own a savings account. A philosopher once said that fundraising is the art of teaching the joy of giving.

APCOM’s “Turning the Corner” Resource Mobilisation Workshop, held on 25-27 May 2015, gathered 29 community advocates across South Asia to learn this form of art. Facilitated by Barapani, a resource mobilisation consultancy firm specializing for non-profit organisations, the workshop trained the community advocates with the knowledge and skills to understanding and developing resource mobilisation strategy. Following the workshop, the 24 participating community organisations from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka has been drafting a plan to sustain their income. The process will be further assisted by Barapani through the upcoming in-country workshop that’s tailored based on the evaluation during the preliminary workshop.

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Two facilitators from Barapani trained 29 community advocates with resource mobilisation skill.

Director of FPA Sri Lanka, Tushara Agus, viewed the workshop as a strong platform to endorse the participating community organisations to think out of box when it came to generating income. Tushara is enthusiastic to see the business plan drafted by the trained Sri Lankan groups that plan to generate entrepreneurial revenue. Manila Neupane from Mono Supporting Maple Group (Nepal) thanked the workshop for teaching her the importance of funding diversification. Her new gameplan for Mono is to approach private level donors – a kind of benefactor that her organisation has never thought of before.

For Biraj of Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bangladesh), the workshop benefited him the most through exercises to communicate effectively with donors.  With the myriad of messages and messengers competing for donors’ attention out there, Biraj appreciated how the workshop taught him to craft a concise case of support and a solid grant proposal’s concept note. The interview video can be watched below.