October 31, 2015

Strengthening Communities

Power of Love develops smart and effective methods to strengthen the community response to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.

Currently, though 99% of the work to counter the spread of HIV is being done at the grassroots level, little funding is going to these community-based organizations. The money that does reach them is used to fulfill immediate on-the-ground needs. Program funding is often based on meeting performance goals that measure success only by how many people the program reaches, not how effectively the program reaches them. There too few resources and too little time in grassroots organizations to explore new, potentially more effective responses to counter the spread of HIV.

Power of Love believes that by utilizing technology and business processes appropriately, we can build creative response models that increase the output of care for each dollar donated.

We design, develop, and test innovative response models to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.  As the models prove successful, Power of Love shares them with existing grassroots organizations and communities interested in starting new programs for themselves.

Developing Innovative Models

Our work initially began by partnering with and working within several community-based organizations to understand the challenges and environment created by the HIV and AIDS epidemics.  We documented our learning, identifying successful strategies as well as weaknesses in the current models.

As a result, we designed our initial models based on

  • technology
  • for-profit models
  • family and community structures
  • availability of manpower to engage against the epidemic
  • lessons from successful effective community programs in southern Africa
  • assessment of weaknesses observed in other community-based programs

While designing the models, we also consider and incorporate four key ideas:

  1. Effectiveness: our performance measures require that we reach people at a lower cost.  This allows funding to be stretched further throughout the community
  2. Sustainability: our models should be led and run by community members with minimal foreign intervention and support
  3. Scalability: take advantage of economies of scale as the model grows, lowering costs even further
  4. Replication: have components independent of specific leadership or circumstances to enable successful implementation anywhere.

The models are interlinked to support each other for maximum benefit to a community, but are also structured to run independently if resources are at a premium.

Evaluating Our Models through Pilot Programs

We create pilot programs to evaluate our models because existing organizations generally don’t have the time or resources to implement untried ideas. We have implemented these pilots in Matero, a community within Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

The pilots have several functions:

  • Iterative Development: Our pilots give us flexibility to incorporate new ideas to continuously improve the performance of the program or to react to changes in the HIV and AIDS environments, policies, and technologies. Additionally, as the model stabilizes we can also test our scalability.
  • Operational Model: Seeing our model in action, its results, and its performance is a convincing argument for an organization to improve their current processes or invest in a new program.  Because the model is operational, we are also able to make an impact on the lives of people and improve their situation.
  • Hands-on Training environment: Organizations and communities can observe and participate in our working programs to understand the details of the running model

Continuing Our Work

We have four funding needs:

  1. Running our pilot programs: Our highest priority is our pilot programs which are an important part of improving our models to meet performance goals
  2. Learning, documenting and disseminating: Share the insights from our models with other organizations engaged in the fight against HIV and AIDS
  3. Replicating our models into new communities: Enable communities to train within our pilot program and set up their own programs
  4. Operational overheads: We maintain low costs because our team is comprised of professional, skilled volunteers.

Institutional donations and grants cover the research and development aspects of our programs, documentation, replication, and operational overheads.

Individual donations go directly to the implementation of our programs and to the projects that we support. By providing microloans, medical care, and prevention and treatment education, this money has a direct impact on the people of Matero, as well as the communities in which our partner programs are located.