The challenge

For many years Finnish education organisations ranging from public schools to edtech companies have struggled in entering the African continent and getting engaged in meaningful proejcts there. The often heard explanation is that the lack of success is dues to lack of funding from Finland and also the lack of knowledge of what the available funds for education projects in Africa are.

To help in this, the Education Finland had commissioned Annu Jokela-Ylipiha to write a research paper related to project funding in education in Africa. To my luck, Annu was quite busy at the time and asked me to join her in the work and co-write the paper with her.

The solution

My intake on the issue was that simply knowing international financial institutions (IFIs) and their funding strategies is not sufficient for Finnish organisations to move forward. Instead we should highlight the pathways to get involved with the creation of good programmes and also look beyond IFIs to how various projects come together at a more local level.

So we divided the task: I interviewed my friends and colleagues that have worked with IFIs and/or Finnish organisations and asked them to explain what Finnish organisations should do, what have been their failures and what are their opportunities. I also tried to bridge the (often unnecessary) gap between NGO’s and companies. Annu focused in IFIs, their programmes and strategies. As an end result, I think we did a pretty good job in giving a full image and pathway to execution. I think the overall message was: there is no quick and easy way to funding, but there is a vast world of slow opportunities open for Finns.

The takeaways

I really enjoyed this project. Working with a wise colleague like Annu was a thrill. Every conversation we had helped me shape my ideas and move forward. Truly the type of collaboration where the end result is more than the sum of its parts. I also enjoyed the interviews, because I was able to affirm many of my beliefs. And I am really happy that we poured our hearts and minds into this work that went beyong the scope of the assignments but should truly help Finnish organisations move forward, given they accept the years of work that comes with it.

The report exists only in Finnish, but can be viewed or downloaded below.