WASHINGTON D.C.— The Pan American Development Foundation was formed in 1962. According to their website, their goal is to “implement socio-economic development programs and disaster assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
They try to partner with a range of different organizations, from NGOs to governments and community groups—even private corporations.
Their mission, to bring economic and social stability to disadvantaged groups in Latin America and the Caribbean, is based off of four program ideas:
1. Create Economic Opportunities
Income inequality is a serious issue in the LAC region—wages are low and unemployment high.
PADF creates economic opportunities for those living near or under the poverty line by providing skills training, supporting small businesses, creating jobs, promoting improved agricultural practices, increasing local infrastructure, implementing environmental conservation practices and much more.
An example of job creation is in Columbia, where PADF spent $18 million on their “Entrepreneurship Income Path” program. This program supported the start-up of thousands of small businesses through technical and business training, cash assistance and facilitation of business connections.
2. Promote Social Progress in Communities
A strong, healthy community can have a direct relationship to healthy development. PADF supports programs that strengthen local communities on a variety of levels.
One way to achieve this is the community-driven development strategy. Instead of PADF making all of the decisions for the community, locals get to decide where and how aid money is spent. This garners a feeling of ownership and cooperation within the communities.
Developing and repairing damaged infrastructure is also important for social progress. According to PADF, successfully developed infrastructure “contributes to improved agriculture, education, transportation, health, communications and disaster mitigation.”
Evidence of PADF’s work on infrastructure can be seen in Haiti, where they spent $13.6 million to repair 9,700 homes damaged by the earthquake.
Money is also spent on keeping youth away from gangs and violence. Lowering the levels of violence increases the well-being of a community.
3. Strengthen Human Rights and Civil Society
Supporting democratic ideals is another way PADF believes progress can be achieved. One way of enhancing civil society is by engaging journalists and encouraging critical news coverage and discussion.
Helping to create civil society organizations that fight against human rights abuses is another tactic. For example, PADF worked with Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Social Prosperity and spent $3.4 million on organizations that help displaced persons.
PADF wants everyone to participate in civil society so they also make sure to give special attention and encourage participation of those most marginalized—like indigenous populations and women.
4. Respond to Natural Disasters
Natural disasters cause many people to lose access to life’s basic necessities. PADF works to get corporate and private donor assistance during a natural disaster in order to deliver food, shelter and medical supplies.
In order to make sure that the disaster relief is successful, PADF “distributes, monitors and ensures that relief supplies reach beneficiaries in an effective and timely manner.”
In 2012, PADF worked with Chevron and gave food packages to 4,900 Guatemalans affected by heavy flooding.
After a disaster occurs, PADF doesn’t immediately leave the affected area. They stay and continue to help reconstruct communities as well as suggest prevention policies for the future, like “community-based early flood alert systems.“
This is only a brief overview of the type of work done by PADF. It is important to know that their programs and goals are quite extensive, reaching over 10 million people in 2013 alone. With 90 percent of their budget spent on programs, donations to this nonprofit will likely be spent on real people and concrete initiatives.
The online charity review organization—BBB Wise Giving Alliance—claims that PADF does not meet their standards. However, this is because of a bureaucratic technicality: they have two yearly board meetings instead of three. In all other, categories PADF meets the BBB standards—like truthful materials, effectiveness policy, program expenses, budget plan etc.
PADF is surely one of the largest and most established nonprofits that is working towards social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
– Eleni Lentz-Marino
Sources: Pan American Development Foundation, BBB Wise Giving Alliance
Photo: Pan American Development Foundation