Empowering Communities by Building Self-Reliance
A number of aspects make CEN unique among development organizations. Many organizations go into communities and say things like, "Here's your problem: You are spending all your time producing the wrong crop and can't earn enough money in today's market to buy everything you need. Here's how you can solve that." CEN feels that we shouldn't be dictating to people. Instead we give them training and resources and get them thinking about how to improve their lives. What we want to do is equip communities to be able to make their own decisions
Our approach to development sets CEN apart from many other nonprofit organizations. CEN offers a long-term solution for eliminating poverty around the world by helping individuals and their communities become more self-reliant. The majority of development initiatives build infrastructure or provide material resources, but don't prepare residents with the skills and mindsets they need to address problems that inevitably arise after the project teams go home. Some initiatives provide technical or business skills, but fail to address critical thinking, discipline and other skills and frames of mind that are essential for long-term sustainability. As a result, many development projects fail to sustain their gains over the long term. CEN utilizes an extensive, hands-on learning process called PRATICAR to build self-reliant thinking, which in turn renders residents' achievements and solutions as self-sustaining and long-term.
Learn by Doing: the PRATICAR Learning Method
We cultivate self-reliance by building a strong foundation of basic skills and mindsets that support self-sufficient thinking, such as critical thinking, problem solving, discipline and an "I can" mentality. We do this by engaging participants in personal projects that strengthen these and other basic skills and mindsets. Also, unlike many other organizations, which teach skills and business practices primarily through lectures or readings, we help our clients master skills by learning and applying them in the context of their personal projects.
Once participants have mastered these skills and approaches, we help them build upon this knowledge by providing a range of services that improve access to sustainable income generation and the ability to properly bring these opportunities to market. We also collaborate with a wide range of organizations to remove external obstacles, such as lack of energy or limited access to capital, that would otherwise prevent residents from building sustainable livelihoods and improving their quality of life.