WESUPPORT: Civil Society Support Programme

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are actors which should be seen as critical components of democracy since they aim to ensure citizens’ democratic participation in the solution of social and environmental problems by bringing together different groups within society through democratic means. WEglobal is aware of the value of civil society organizations and supported 48 different civil society organizations through 2 grant schemes for 28 months together with Directorate for EU Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is the Beneficiary institution of the Civil Society Support Programme.

Under the Civil Society Support Programme, the “Grant Scheme for Grassroots CSOs” was implemented for Grassroots CSOs. Kicked-off with the slogan of “Participatory, Active and Strong Local Organizations”, the scheme aimed to support 38 Grassroots CSOs from 15 provinces with approximately 2,1 million euros of grant support and each CSO benefitted from the support received grants ranging from 40 thousand to 60 thousand euros. These organizations successfully implemented their 10 to 12 month long projects, which included activities for capacity building needed for their efforts on effective management, communication skills and advocacy. The upscaling and improvement of functions of the local civil society organizations as grassroots were aimed. 41,123 people were reached through capacity building trainings, campaigns and awareness raising activities implemented under the grant scheme. Thanks to the Grant Scheme for Grassroots CSOs, CSOs were able to build their capacities, establish networks and started taking joint actions. They had the opportunity to expand their reach through public bodies and other CSOs. Within implemented grant projects, people’s lives were changed.

Sober Living Association (AYBUDER) implemented “Another World is Possible” project under Grant Scheme for Grassroots CSOs. Mr. Zeyid Üstün tells his own story with his words.

“I am 27 years old recovering substance addict. I have been living a sober and clean life with the help of Sober Living Association for about a year. Before I met AYBUDER, my family and society had given up all hope of me. I came back from death’s door many times, AYBUDER was my rebirth. The project “Another World is Possible” was the first step of my new life. For the first time, I have a real job, a bank account and a salary. I’ve seen how a disciplined work can bring success. Since I want to produce new projects and help other people, I have drawn myself a road map to become a project expert in the field. The compliments I receive from the people I meet are priceless. I am very proud when it is told that I am a good example of what a recovering addict can do if given the opportunity.”

This one small scale grant project succeeded and that one man’s life had changed. That shows people’s lives can change fundamentally when supported by CSOs.

10 projects were implemented under the CSO Partnerships and Networks on Strengthening Cooperation Between Public Sector and CSOs Grant Scheme, shortly known as Partnerships and Networks Grants Scheme. Under the Grant Scheme, 4,3 million euros were allocated for strengthening cooperation between public institutions and civil society organizations and developing the institutional capacity of civil society organizations. Thanks to the 10 projects implemented under this Grant Scheme, 3 bills, 19 policy documents and 9 cooperation protocols were drafted, and 1 action plan was monitored. More than 9 million interactions were achieved through the awareness raising campaigns. 350 CSOs attended the capacity building trainings. Reports were prepared for strengthening the relations between the public institutions and CSOs.

One of the most successful grants projects was Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGIDER) established Women Business Network: W-BUN. The project aimed to draft a bill and run an awareness raising campaign in order to ensure that the necessary legal regulations are made for enabling women to be more active in the labor market, to create a Businesswomen Communication Network for strengthening women entrepreneurs and to make sure more women entrepreneurs are invited to tenders held as per the Public Procurement Law.

A heartfelt words of a participant on how that network touched her life;

“Women of Commerce… I repeated these words to myself hundreds of times. I looked at the website. I have seen hundreds of women entrepreneurs like me. Then I closed my eyes and dreamed that the bill has passed. And now, it is no longer a dream! I believe that with the project we have taken an important step for the law we have been dreaming of for many years. This success will be the greatest pride of the Women’s Network thanks to our efforts.”

As of 2018, WEglobal organized several Grant Implementation Trainings, Interim and Final Report Trainings, lobbying and advocacy trainings, capacity building workshops on advocacy, public-CSO cooperation, financial sustainability and administrative capacity development and Closing Events for Grant Schemes separately within the context Civil Society Support Programme. Due to Covid -19 precautions, Closing Event for Partnerships and Networks Grant Scheme was held as a hybrid event which was one of the best practices of organizing large scale events both physical and online.

During the pandemic, the team was physically apart. Therefore, the power of digital media was capitalized. Distances were closed with grant benefi­ciaries via online tools. Social media campaigns were run as #WeAreOnTheSameRoad, # UnderTheSameRoof, # NowItsProgressTime. Moreover, e-pamphlets were prepared in 6 thematic areas for CSOs’ capacity building and were shared on social media accounts. Through the work on social media, approximately 11,000 new followers were gained and more than 13 million interactions were received.

On January 11th 2021, the Civil Society Support Programme was completed but WEglobal is currently supporting the second phase of Civil Society Support Programme under Technical Assistance for Implementation of Civil Society Dialogue and Civil Society Support Programmes and will continue supporting the CSOs via third phase of Civil Society Support Programme which will begin on April 2021.

As WEglobal, WEcare, WEaware and we will continue to support the CSOs for a better world.

Author: Simay Erdi, WEglobal Project Manager

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