PALS aims to provide a way of mainstreaming community, gender and generational empowerment as a sustainable longer term business investment in supply chain expansion and strengthening. Sustainability is planned and monitored from the beginning, with short-term targets and activities as well as the longer term vision.
Based on self-interest – no free lunch or training kits
All PALS processes require participants to take responsibility wherever possible so that external resources and support can be properly targeted for maximum benefit. This means not only personal responsibility for changing one’s own life and sharing with others. It also means minimising costs. Participants are asked to provide their own exercise books, pens and manilla sheets wherever possible – if they can afford a bottle of beer or a hairdo, they can afford to miss out once or twice to get materials for their long term education! Materials should only be provided for people who are really poor and unable to buy for themselves – they also should take responsibility once their livelihoods have improved.
Accessible Tools that can be used independently
The tools can be used independently by people who cannot read and write as well as organisational staff and academic researchers to analyse issues and strategise change. Participants keep their own individual diaries in ordinary A4 exercise books which they themselves buy, together with coloured pens. Women and men farmers and entrepreneurs design their own pictorial manuals
to teach others the tools they themselves have found most useful. The diagram outputs and diaries from workshops and subsequent discussions are much more powerful than any externally designed printed manual – as well as much cheaper and more likely to be used. The more people are involved in designing the manuals they
themselves will use, the greater the sense of ownership and local creativity, and hence likelihood the change process will be dynamic, sustainable and scaled up through community initiative.
Everyone can be a leader of change to ‘go viral’
Leadership development for pyramid peer sharing PALS is distinctive in that the main facilitators and implementers are women and men within communities using and innovating with the methodology to improve their own lives. Champions share their strategies and the methodology with others in their households and communities as well as in group meetings, church and local government meetings. The PALS system is different from many training of trainer or promoter farmer models in that:
• initial people trained are those who need and will use the methodology, not existing leaders
• people develop their own training kits and those they train buy their own notebooks and pens
• there is a graduation from voluntary peer trainer to paid community trainer
• people not only train others, but train other to also train others and ‘go viral’
First prove expertise by voluntary pyramid peer sharing
The core of the training is voluntary peer training of other people within their own support networks – people they have a personal interest in helping. Every learning event contributes to building capacities and systems for ongoing peer action learning and peer training as the basis for a sustainable process of change. PALS challenges the view that only some people, women or men, can be leaders of a gender change process, and the rest can only follow or be dragged kicking and screaming.
The starting point is a solid basis of skills, commitment and change owned by a small number of ‘champions’ in strategically identified communities. The networks and forms which this takes will differ depending on context, but in all contexts people have friendship and kin networks which it is in their own interest to develop.
The basis of peer scaling up is people’s self interest and voluntary dissemination to other people within their own support networks who they have an interest in assisting – because these people will then assist them.
This is also the case within private sector supply chain management – traders have an interest in improving their supply and in Uganda some have incorporated PALS and GALSatScale tools in their training of suppliers. In FALS the community champions become paid community financial advisers to bring in new reliable clients with a well thought-out business plan.
The methodology is upscaled in existing communities mainly through peer learning with minimal organisational facilitation beyond initial capacity-building in the methodology. As part of the Catalyst PALS workshop, and other subsequent workshops, champions use a tool called the Empowerment Leadership Map to identify people in their families, friends and communities with whom they will share – those they love and who will help them, and those they need to change in order to achieve their visions. They commit to training a number of other members using all available means that will not cost anything ie meetings of savings and credit groups, churches, school meetings, government meetings and going house to house in their neighbourhood. In this way the initial champions are reaching an average of 50 other people each. Those trained also learn the same Pyramid Peer Sharing tool. The aim is to ‘go viral’ with an endless chain of volunteer sharing within peoples’ own networks without cost or excessive burden on each champion.
Certify proven trainers to be paid after 1 year
Once they have trained a certain number of people on a voluntary basis to establish their skills, there are a number of sources from which the champions can get a sustainable source of income from training:
- charging people they train a small fee for more advanced trainings. This is possible for example with livelihood training or financial education. People often pay a fee to someone to broker a loan for example. Rather than that they are paying someone to teach them to prepare a business plan.
- a training budget from the cooperative or company profits (as in eg Bukonzo Joint in Uganda) for replicating to new communities. There will be organisational needs for scaling up to new groups and new areas which cannot be achieved through voluntary training. The peer trainers with the best track record become community trainers paid from the organisation’s increased profits from expansion to farmers to train in new groups outside their own support networks.#
- training local government extension workers so that they can integrate better practices in their training.