Program Description

STeP UP's Objectives

STeP UP works in São Tomé and Príncipe with grassroots-level organizations that are legally
recognized by the local authorities, promoting the principles of self-help development. STeP UP
develops and facilitates projects for the improvement of the communities where these
organizations are based. The projects focus on education and training in agriculture, the environment,
health, and income-generation.

Working with these local organizations, STeP UP develops written proposals which clearly address
problems in the sectors noted above. These proposals describe the specific project and seek
appropriate solutions to the identified problems, using the organizations as the implementing agency.
The proposals are submitted to individuals and to local and international funding agencies for support.

STeP UP's long-term goal is to provide these local organizations with the institutional capacity to
continue to identify problems, write proposals, and secure funding on their own.

Organizations that STeP UP Promotes

STeP UP was created to identify local organizations which work on projects that are generated by
and respond to needs at the grassroots level. STeP UP works with organizations to enable them to
define clearly the needs at the local level, to write plans which explain those needs, and to target funders
whose goals are to address those needs. Given the weak state of local institutions at present, STeP UP
is currently writing and submitting proposals. When a project is funded, STeP UP holds the funds and
distributes them according to the timetable established in the proposal, assuming of course that the
project advances according to the agreed-upon timetable. It monitors the progress, submitting quarterly
or semi­annual reports to the funder. In the long-run, the local organizations will take over these activities
with STeP UP monitoring progress, verifying reports, and evaluating past activities and results in order
to help chart future activity. STeP UP actively seeks ideas from project funders and considers their
special requests. It places special emphasis on promoting women's groups.

The Donor Community

Donor aid to STeP UP is funneled largely through multi- and bi-lateral institutions such as UN agencies
and "French Cooperation" funding. There are virtually no foreign NGOs (non governmental
organizations). The multi-/bi-lateral aid results in projects which are focused from the top down, with
little or no participation from the supposed project beneficiaries. In fact, most aid stops at the
government level, and despite the fact that the country is burdened with an extremely high aid-dollar
input per capita, little of the funding has an impact at the local level.

While this is the case in much of Africa, the difference in São Tomé is that the non-governmental aid
sector - often the prime mover at the local level elsewhere--is weak. STeP UP's goal is to help fill the
NGO "gap".