These FAQ are designed to help you have a better understanding of SPARK, our activities, projects, how we operate and why we do what we do.
1. What does SPARK do?
SPARK increases the number of sustainable job opportunities and economic prospects for people in conflict affected societies. Through the development of higher education and the local private sector development (PSD), SPARK supports educational institutions to adapt their curricula to the market needs and to establish good governance within the institutions themselves. SPARK also facilitates start-up businesses by enhancing cooperation between partners from the private and public sector, as well as through trainings, consultancy and micro-credit.
2. How does SPARK decide where to work?
SPARK offers young people the means and opportunities to help rebuild their post-conflict society. In this respect SPARK always operates in line with local demands. SPARK conducts a survey in order to determine what the situation on the ground is and what the local needs are. Following the survey, prospective local partners are called in to see what the possibilities there are for SPARK to make a change in a particular country. If a country in the aftermath of conflict is demonstrably in need of higher education and entrepreneurship development, this is a reason, and opportunity, for SPARK to offer their expertise.
3. Does SPARK solely work in post-conflict areas? Are they the same as fragile states?
A fragile state is understood as a state incapable of meeting its citizens’ expectations of assuring rule of law and security, provision of basic services and economic opportunities. Not every country recovering from conflict is per definition a fragile state yet the two are usually interrelated.
As SPARK’s main objective is to prevent conflict to re-erupt and build sustainable institutions where necessary, SPARK operates in post-conflict as well as fragile states. However, SPARK eventually wants to turn over responsibility to the local partners; once (post-conflict) states are strong enough to meet the expectations of their citizens, SPARK’s job is done.
4. Does SPARK engage in peace building & reconciliation as well?
Peace building is a range of measures meant to reduce the risk of a relapse into conflict and to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development, coherent with national needs and capacities. SPARK makes a valuable contribution to this end by providing youth an attractive alternative to taking up arms: access to education and/or employment. Ongoing rivalry impedes the peace building efforts at the core of SPARK’s mission.
5. How does SPARK choose its partners?
In view of its institution-building mission, SPARK predominantly works with partners in the economic and educational sphere, such as Ministries of Economic Affairs, Ministries of Trade and Industry, Chambers of Commerce, SME development agencies, and universities. The fundamental goal of selecting the right partners is to ensure that sustainability is created.
6. What is transparency?
Transparency and openness is key to how SPARK works. We believe that beneficiaries, donors, and the general public have the right to know how we spend our resources and what the impact of our work is. Since 1993, we have published detailed annual and project reports. More recently, we have started to publish external evaluations and financial details online, and in March 2012, we became the first Dutch NGO to fully implement IATI, the latest international standard in aid transparency.