How we evaluate projects at Kwanda and our basic criteria for funding

At Kwanda, we support change-makers and projects that deliver innovative, sustainable, and thoughtful solutions to challenges.

"Innovative" means they go beyond standard methods to achieve more intelligent and effective results.

"Sustainable" means their solutions support communities for the long term without needing more money and avoid creating dependency.

"Thoughtful" means their solutions are well-suited to the communities and have beneficial additional outcomes intelligently built-in.

An example from Kenya

Innovative

In Wamunyu, Kenya, locals faced food insecurity due to long periods of low rainfall and limited resources for crop cultivation. In response, a group developed a vertical gardening method. This method involves gathering soil into a mound, wrapping it with netting, and forming it into a cylindrical structure. This cylindrical structure is punctured, allowing crops to be planted along its sides and top. A watering hole is placed at the top. This design uses less land and water and supports the growth of multiple crop types.

Sustainable

We funded the construction of 20 vertical gardens in Wamunyu and importantly, funded the provision of training to locals on how to build this technology themselves. This training ensured sustainability by empowering locals in the community with the necessary skills to construct vertical gardens. Training, therefore, is an essential sustainability driver we use in projects to disseminate useful information and enable locals to carry on solutions independently.

Thoughtful

The crop harvests produced by these vertical gardens were plentiful as planned, and this provided an additional benefit in that the locals tending to the vertical gardens could sell surplus produce on the market to earn an extra income. This investment provided food security to locals and boosted the community income, and will do so in perpetuity. Commerce is another element that you often find in the projects we fund. We ask … is there an opportunity to build in secondary benefits?

Conclusion

This example is a clear step beyond the traditional playbook, which would instead focus entirely on external food procurement. An approach which offers no long-term solution and risks ignoring the root cause and trapping recipients in a cycle of dependency.

Other Examples

Workers who drilled the  clean water well pump
A second example of work that meets our criteria is the three clean-water pumps we funded in Tanzania. Locals were involved in the drilling process and trained in the maintenance of the pumps. These pumps currently provide clean water to over 3000 Tanzanians. By having locals trained on maintaining the pumps, we mitigate the risk of pumps being rendered useless when parts are damaged.

A woman sewing sustainable menstrual products
A third example of a project that meets our criteria is our funding of educational workshops and employing sewists in Kenya to produce sustainable menstrual kits for 280 girls in Kenya. By producing the sustainable kits locally, we avoided creating a dependence on Western-produced single-use products. The stigma around menstruation in the community was reduced, and therefore, more women and girls in the community were interested in receiving sustainable menstrual kits, creating a business opportunity for the sewists.

Occasional exceptions

Sometimes, we make exceptions to our usual criteria, and as our funds increase, we can support more projects or causes that do not strictly fit our guidelines.

For example, we have provided relief funds to communities in Jamaica for essential food, water, and shelter for storm and flood victims. We have also donated to organisations in Sudan to help war-affected families access meals, healthcare, and medication.

Despite these exceptions, we aim to stick to our main criteria to maintain team discipline and focus on long-term impact. Short-term opportunities are more visible and often receive plenty of funding and support. We challenge ourselves to find rarer, innovative, and sustainable solutions that address the root causes of issues.

Basic Criteria

Alongside the criteria expressed above, we have standard criteria:

  • The project is delivered in Africa or the Caribbean and positively impacts people living there.

  • Individuals or teams on the ground deliver the project.

  • The delivering party is a non-profit or can use a fiscal host. (they are legally registered).

Evaluation

Individuals or teams carrying out the project are evaluated on these criteria:

  • They have a track record and expertise in the field.

  • They have shown evidence of being resourceful / doing a lot with a little.

  • They are dynamic, adaptable and flexible.

  • They have evidenced clear and timely communication.

  • They have impact and financial reporting capacity.

  • They know where they are going and how we are helping them get there.

  • They have a detailed and precise plan for using the funds.

  • The proposed solution can evidence traction or has a strong early indication of traction/success.

  • The proposed solution generates a clear, measurable impact.