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Supporting African development through UK based small and Diaspora organisations

The ‘Common Ground initiative’ aims at increasing funding for small and diaspora organisations based in the UK and supporting development in Africa. With over £20 million made available for grants from 2009 to 2012, the Common Ground Initiative is one of the most important government-funded diaspora support programmes in Europe.  

The Common Ground Initiative is co-funded by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and implemented by Comic Relief, a UK-based charity with a long-standing commitment to small and diaspora organisations. The initiative is based on the assumptions that diaspora and small organisations have significant contributions to make to development notably thanks to their good understanding of the context and commitment to long-term development. Furthermore, diaspora organisations tend to bring new skills to projects and often have innovative approaches to development. However, and despite their potential for contributing to development, diaspora and small organizations often face constrains in accessing funds, notably due to discrimination and difficult access to development networks and decision makers.

The initiative aims at improving the access to funding and organisational support for those organisations and raising awareness on their contributions to development. In addition, the initiative seeks to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the role played by diasporas in development, through conducting an extensive study on the subject.

The initiative offers various types of grants for projects in Africa. Three programmes have been specifically created for this initiative. The primary health care programme and the primary and secondary education programme both aim at increasing access and improving the quality of health care and education while encouraging greater community involvement, specifically targeting marginalised groups. The enterprise and employment programme, which targets entrepreneurs, small businesses and producer organisations, seeks to promote creative and productive relations between African and Diaspora entrepreneurs and enable innovative and sustainable enterprise initiatives.

Since its launch in October 2009, 73 project grants have been awarded for projects in Uganda, Cameroon, Congo, Somaliland, Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Sierra Leone.