Helping disadvantaged communities

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) is inching closer to its goal of helping disadvantaged communities in Ethiopia through diaspora funded, high impact development projects. The organization is selecting these socio-economic sustainable projects under the theme “Ethiopian Diaspora – partnership to improve social and economic wellbeing of Ethiopians in need.” EDTF closed off 2019 announcing their selection of 22 project proposals, the final selection is scheduled for the end of this month.
Capital interviewed EDTF Communications Specialist Hanna Atnafu to learn more about the organization.
Hanna Atnafu has over two decades of experience in Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Publications, Human Resource Management, Ethiopian Aviation Academy and Customer Services. She is face and mind the behind the implementation of the “all women managed Ethiopian Airlines (ET) flight”. She holds a BA in Organizational Management and two Masters, one in Transformational Leadership and Change (MTLC) and an MSc in Project Planning and Management.

Capital: Can you speak on the conception of EDTF and the purpose it serves?
Hanna Atnafu: The call to donate a dollar-a-day by all Ethiopians in the Diaspora came from the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed on July 08, 2019. This was followed by his appointment of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) Advisory Council (AC) and the EDTF Board of Directors EDTF-BoD.
The EDTF Board of Directors is the apex governance body. It comprises of eleven persons, drawn from the Ethiopian government, Diaspora and Civil Society. Whereas the 18 members of EDTF-AC is to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora Community in the United Sates and globally to make financial contributions to the EDTF Account on a timely and sustained basis to ensure the realization of the EDTF objectives.
EDTF operates as Friends of EDTF and is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization in the United States established with the goal of raising funds to support social projects in specific critical areas in Ethiopia.
The Fund aims to finance projects that meet critical and selected needs based on their potential to make the highest positive impact on groups and communities in Ethiopia in such areas as health, education, water, sanitation facilities and rehabilitation of persons with disability, agricultural development, technology, women empowerment, youth, financial inclusion, small scale entrepreneurship and other income and employment generating projects.
EDTF is an equal opportunity organization dedicated to serving all Ethiopians without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, language, region, gender, political views or any other factors. EDTF neither advances nor promotes any partisan political agenda and is solely focused on its mission of raising awareness and funds to finance and assist poor and disadvantaged people of Ethiopia.

Capital: How much has been raised thus far? How long did it take to raise this amount?
Hanna: To date, EDTF has collected USD 5.848 million from 25,735 donors living in 93 countries supported by 46 Chapters globally.
Capital: Which country do the majority of the donations come from?
Hanna: We are receiving the donation from 93 countries, but the main donors are from North America

Capital: Are the funds raised dedicated entirely to the projects? How much is allocated per project?
Hanna: All donations to EDTF are committed to projects. No EDTF donation is used for administrative or related purposes. The administrative costs of the EDTF secretariat are coved by the generous support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that has committed two years support to fund the cost of the EDTF Secretariat in Addis Ababa.
A total of 4,000,000 USD is allocated to finance projects in the first round of funding. Considering the large number of projects applied for EDTF grant the Board of Directors may consider allocating more resources to finance more projects. The minimum and maximum amount that will be granted per project is approximately ETB 6,400,000 (USD $200,000) and ETB 11,200,000 (USD $350,000) respectively.

Capital: An EDTF Press release stated that a total of 4 million USD is allocated to finance projects in the first round of funding. Is this amount taken from the donations raised?
Hanna: Yes. As EDTF is the gift of the global Ethiopian Diaspora to the Ethiopian people regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or political orientation all projects selected for funding will be financed from the donation raised from the Ethiopian Diaspora. As mentioned above, 100 % of donations from the Diaspora’s donations raised.

Capital: How was the project selection process carried out? What separated the 22 projects from the rest of the entries?
Hanna: Projects submitted to EDTF was reviewed by a panel of experts in accordance with the EDTF project selection criteria and scoring system. Projects recommended for funding by the review panel was presented for the final approval of the EDTF Board of Directors.
During the preliminary screening process, a thorough compliance check has been done to all 410 project proposals that have been received in both soft and hard copies. After compliance check for late submission, incomplete documentation, double submission and ineligible proposals due to their organizational type, budget threshold, project duration and formatting issues, 242 projects have been identified that met the formal requirements as per the submission guideline provided at the launching of the “Call for Proposals”.
All proposed Project were reviewed by volunteer Ethiopian experts in a variety of fields recruited from Ethiopia and the global Ethiopian Diaspora community. These experts were organized in 26 Project Review Teams (PRTs), each team consisting of panels of 3 members. The PRTs reviewed and ranked each proposal according to criteria set for proposal submissions. After the PRTs performed a full review of 242 proposals, 68 were found to meet the established criteria, out of which the Secretariat presented 22 projects to the Board of Directors for their consideration and approval.
Among the key proposal evaluation criteria included are sustainability of the proposed project, potential impact, relevance, scalability, innovation and creativity, cost efficiency (value for money), accountability, transparency and communication. Regional equity was also taken into consideration in deciding the short-listed applicants.
The 22 shortlisted projects will undergo a final implementation capacity assessment and budget review focusing on organizational resources, management and effectiveness to deliver on proposed project outcomes.

Capital: Of the 22 selected projects – how many will be chosen?
Hanna: A total of 4,000,000 USD is allocated to finance projects in the first round of funding. The minimum and maximum amount that will be granted per project is approximately ETB 6,400,000 (USD $200,000) and ETB 11,200,000 (USD 350,000) respectively. Those who passed the assessment of the Institutional Capacity assessment and Budget review by an independent consultant will be granted. As mentioned above, it is up the EDTF Board of Directors discretion to allocate additional resources to fund more projects if more of the shortlisted applicants demonstrate strong implementation capacity.