HISTORY of PEN

Poverty Eradication Network (PEN) was registered in Kenya by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Coordination Bureau on December 20th 2001 and began operations, from its headquarters in Nairobi, on November 4th 2002.

PEN was founded for the specific purpose of strengthening citizens and citizens' organizations in East Africa. PEN's founders recognized that a number of of grassroots development initiatives and locally driven citizens' organizations closed shop after the initial motivation and energy behind their formation had subsided.
On the other hand many citizens' organizations that survive, have become dependent on and owned by a small group of individuals who, acting without public accountability, tend to use public assets for private agendas.

The high incidence of failing citizens' institutions reflects huge wastage of scarce developmental resources, personal disappointment and disillusionment of founders and volunteers working in such initiatives, a continuing focus on short-term development projects, limited accountability and a lack of sustainable development. The predominance of 'white elephant' projects and the high vulnerability of citizens' organizations is one major cause of the lack of confidence so many people have in the not-for-profit sector.

Yet the strength of any nation reflects the strength of its people, and the contribution the people make to their own development. A strong, people driven, value driven sector (citizens' sector) is fundamental to the long term sustainable development of all nations.

Strong and sustainable citizens' groups require not only highly motivated, committed and competent leadership, but also good governance, strong management, clear strategy, successful fundraising, demonstrated results, public profile, and effective policies, procedures and organizational systems.
Citizens' organizations therefore need affordable, appropriate, competent and effective capacity building inputs and support, if they are to build upon their innate capacity and strong commitment to their causes.

While international NGOs and well established national CSOs are able to access donor support to engage private sector services, this is not so for the majority of citizens' organizations in East Africa.

Through effective campaigns, PEN has enhanced citizens' civic engagement in new democratic dispensations. PEN working with other liked-minded CSOs, has spearheaded the development of Standards for CSOs and the formation of an independent institution for the promotion of CSO standards and voluntary certification in Kenya. PEN with an umbrella group of CSOs, the CSO Reference Group, is proud to have contributed to the first ever civil society fronted legislation, the Public Benefits Organisations Act 2013.

PEN continues to promote participatory development methodologies which empower communities to set their own development agenda by setting achievable community action plans and seeing them through the implementation and sustainability phase. In this plan period PEN will increase its focus on supporting communities in Natural Resource Management and Integrated Community Livehoods, as well as engage in advocacy for formulation of an effective policy framework eventually leading to good governance at all levels.

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