Welcome to this annual report on the Commonwealth Foundation’s work during 2016/17. The period since last June has seen the organisation conclude the implementation of the current Strategic Plan (2012-2017) and simultaneously prepare for the next, which will take us through to 2021.
My colleagues and I have remained focussed on delivering on the annual workplan for 2016/17 and are able to report some considerable successes. The 6,000 entries to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the publication of an anthology of short stories translated from Bangla, the establishment of a vibrant Southern African youth employment network, the support to women’s organisations getting a gender bill debated at the East African Legislative Assembly. All this on top of a grant portfolio of more than 50 projects awarded over the past five years, worth £3.75 million.
This year’s achievements are all the more impressive when one considers that the staff team have combined to design and produce a Strategic Plan for the next five years, which was approved by Governors at a specially convened meeting held last December. The new Plan builds on the advances made during the current planning period and takes account of the learning (for staff and partners) that has taken place. Much of this is well documented in the external evaluation that we commissioned last year.
Learning provided an essential keystone in the building of the new Plan, which retains our focus as a development organisation fixed on people’s participation in governance. We will be placing new emphasis on civic voice to take account of the ways in which civil society is changing, and to bring writers and artists into our community of practice. We will be more joined up as we seek to work across our programmes, for example by making a more immediate connection between developing civic capacity to engage with institutions and exploring opportunities for engagement to take place. We will also be more overt in our focus on gender equality and the many ways this can be addressed in a governance setting.
Like any report the following pages provide a retrospective view but I hope they also provide a glimpse of what’s to come.
With thanks for your continuing support.