Paul Streeter and John Quinn have been participants in many mission trips to the Highlands region of Guatemala over the years- primarily working on home and church building projects. Along the way they began to consider how something more helpful and self-sustaining could be achieved to serve other needs of the poorer citizens of the region. Over a 3 year period Paul and John met with several dozen NGOs and experienced social venture entity leaders to listen to their journeys and to learn what best practices led to self-sustainability in individuals and successful community transformation. Included in their research were attending and hosting conferences and reading pivotal books on best practices and lessons learned.
One of the key trips was the exploration of the “Rainbow Network” model serving Nicaragua. “Rainbow’s” model includes locally-led, multi-faceted, self-sustainable transformation support for remote villages. That model and its integrated approach was inspiring. The founders approached “Rainbow” about taking their model to Guatemala. This path was not possible due to “Rainbow’s” unfulfilled potential in Nicaragua and capacity limitations. Nonetheless, “Rainbow” became a key benchmark for them.
Habitat for Humanity International has some global success in integrated village transformation- notably in Egypt. Habitat has individuals throughout its organization who understand the value of integrating other support services for the communities they serve beyond just housing. Directionally they are evolving into healthy house components and existing housing revitalization.
After continuous listening and discussion cycles with core friends, advisors and partners a model evolved that represented the key components needed for balanced and sustainable transformation. The Sinapi model envisions having partners with the requisite core competencies coming together in an integrated manner in specific villages. Traditional NGOs have “done their own thing” and have not generally sought out partners with complementary capabilities. The emerging thought among social venture entrepreneurs (SVEs) is that it is better to leverage existing partner capacity- if the principles and integration can be agreed upon- than to build new capacity from scratch. This is especially true of growing new capacity outside of an NGOs core competency. Savvy donors are more enlightened and will search out NGO partnerships that will ensure that their funds get further leverage.
Core principles emerged that were critical in the eyes of best of breed partners and experienced veterans. This model was presented for validation to the various constituents who had provided valuable input and suggestions. The final concept was enthusiastically supported. A number of primary and secondary partners were identified and vetted. It is clear that they are eager and capable and there is an on-going flow of social venture entrepreneurs that can fill current and future transformational gaps as needed.
On several occasions the founders offered key partners the role of being the catalyst of the concept. On those occasions partners told the founders that an outside party championing the concept would be the best way to get adoption, especially in the early stages.