Scene 3: Advice from the Community Plough Movement

Scene 3: Advice from the Community Plough Back Movement


During the prep phase in A term, the team tried to find examples of community centres in Worcester that could serve as a model for the project. When we arrived in Cape Town, we decided that it would be helpful to find a small NGO or community centre near Maitland Garden Village that could serve as a guide for our project. To our benefit, Basil worked on the board with a woman named Nanuala Mtitwa who works for a small NGO in Langa. She had us refer to her as Professor. Named the Plough Back Movement, we found the NGO to have ideals similar to those of the Green Light Project. As a result the information we gathered today will be very helpful in moving our project forward.

Cast of Characters: The MGV Team, Ronell Trout, Ntandazo Geingca, Basil Tommy, Prof Nanuala Mtitwa, Jennifer Stacey


The following questions were prepared for the meeting:

  • We are trying to understand the development of a Community based organization. What steps did you take to establish yourself as a CBO?
    • What help did you get? (community? Outside help?)
    • Do you have any documents that could assist us in writing our own strategic plan/business plan/proposal?
    • What were some of the challenges faced in your early stages?
    • How did you deal with these challenges?
    • How did you go about acquiring necessary government owned resources from government bodies?


  • What programs do you offer here? How does the help center assist local residents?
    • Do you target a specific age group?
    • What problems do your help centre look to solve in the community?
    • What is your mission?


  • How do you reach out to the rest of the community to get them involved?
    • How do you market programs to the community?
    • Does the CBO utilize social media?
    • What services do you provide to the community aside from the various programs?
    • How do you get youth involved?


  • How is the CBO managed?
    • Do you have paid workers, volunteers, or both?
    • What role does your executive board play? Who works and when do they work (shifts?)
    • What are your operational hours?
    • What is the relationship between the board and the staff?
    • What is your relationship with the city? Do you need to send in follow up documents to the city? What are you getting at here?  Do you want to know what the city has done, or can do, to provide support.
    • Who owns the building?
    • Are there any lease agreements between you and owner?What are the lease arrangements. If there is a help center, you might want to ask who is respsonible for maintenance, repairs, etc.


  • How are you funded?
    • Do you have fundraising events?
    • Does the government give you grants? Do non-governmental agencies give you grants? Do these grants come with any obligations?
    •   How do you keep track of your records?
    • What techniques do you use to manage your budget?

Key “Take Away” Observations:

  • The Green Light Project should begin looking into opening up a bank account.
  • It could take 2 to 3 years for the GLP to become an established NGO.
  • Networking will be important in finding funding for the GLP.
  • The GLP could look into selling their services or goods to the community as a means of funding.
  • NGOs face many challenges which may include the lack of volunteers and difficulty in finding funding.

 Actions and Observation:

Below we will go through some of the main points that came up during the meeting and what we learned from them:

How did the Community Plough Back Movement begin?

Ten years ago a group of ‘township,’ or community members who had made it academically and professionally, came together to make an effort in improving the community. The group consisted of nurses, teachers, and other motivated community members. They began as a small group that worked out of Prof’s home. After gaining 20 members, the group was able to pool R150 from each member to open a bank account.

As we spoke with Prof, we realised that it is essential that the Green Light Project look into opening a bank account of their own. The government and other private funders will not give any grants or other forms of financial help if the NGO does not have a bank account. This allowed our team to realise a possible step forward the Green LIght Project may take in the upcoming days.

Prof said the process to become an NGO is long and difficult. She talked about how it can take up to 2 or 3 years and how important it is to be active during the waiting period. She said people do not fund ideas, they fund what is already there, despite its size. This information is very important for the Green Light Project; they are currently in that waiting period and need to make sure they stay active during it. They need to focus on specific projects they can do now with the resources they currently have.

Why is networking important? Are there some people the Green Light Project can begin to network with? 

Prof spoke about the importance of networking. She gave the example of how networking and making connections were how the Community Plough Movement was able to become established. She was involved with a NGO called the Golden Arrow Foundation that was known to give up to 7 million dollars each year to foundations that fund welfare organisations. What made the Golden Arrow Foundation particularly special was that all of its money came from the townships. As a result they wanted to give money and help back to the townships.

The Golden Arrow Foundation funded the Community Plough Movement for a year and allowed them to get just enough money to start an office. Now the program has enough resources to begin building a positive track record for themselves. Prof told this story because it showed us the importance of networking. She said you need to know a particular person on a committee in order for them to even look at your application.

Where else can the Green Light Project look to for funding when they become an NGO? How can they look for funding before they are registered as an NGO?

Prof spoke of how the provincial government gives a lot of money out to anti-poverty programs and after school care programs. The local government may also have some resources available. Before the GLP becomes a registered NGO they can look towards obtaining funding from the government by partnering with a registered organization. The two organisations would write a proposal and budget together and share the funding that came from it. However this can be dangerous since all the funds are sent to the registered NGO, and there is no guarantee they will keep their promise of sharing the funds. Another important point made was that organisations can receive funding from various places at the same time.

What are other ways an NGO can gain funds?

The community Plough Back Movement gains funds through their programs as well. Their programs focus on 4 main areas: singing and dancing, sewing, farming and gardening, and working with the schools. The singing and dancing group are paid to perform at weddings and other events. The sewing group is made up of a group of women who promote traditional wear and sell them to the community. The farming and gardening groups sell some of their crop to make a profit. Projects such as these would be the best way for the GLP to begin gaining some funds and setting up a secure bank account at this point.

What are some of the challenges an NGO can face?

Besides the obvious challenge of funding, Prof talked about the difficulties in finding volunteers. Many of the people in the community are not working as it is, so it is hard to convince them to do volunteer work. The people who are working find it hard to find time to do the volunteer work.

Another challenge the Community Plough Back Movement has faced is trying to find a venue. Similar to the GLP they have found this to be a difficult process. Currently they are operating from a house that they are leasing. In a year the lease will run out, and they will decide if they want to renew or find a new venue.


When talking with the Prof, we realised that her mission and objectives were very similar to those of the Green Light Project. This was very encouraging, and it made us feel like the GLP was heading in the right direction. We were very impressed by the program Prof was able to set up. Similar to the GLP, they started with just a few community members looking to make a difference. Now they are a fully functioning NGO. What we found most interesting was how there are still many struggles that an organisation must face once they are registered. Many of these struggles were the same ones the GLP is facing now. This gives the sense that the GLP needs to always be prepared to deal with a lack of funding or motivation in volunteers. We also were not able to get a lot of information on the management system of the Community Plough Back Movement. We got a sense that they still did not have a grasp on how the organization should be properly managed. This seemed to be due to a lack of funding to pay all the positions needed. It is hard to encourage people to volunteer when they do not have a paycheck for their efforts. These are some ideas we need to keep in mind as the GLP progresses over the next coming months.


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