This EU funded Action, “IGNITE CSOs (Improving Governance, Networking and Inclusivity for Civil Society Organisations), seeks to enhance the capacities, policy engagement opportunities and the legislative environment for civil society organisations (CSOs) towards a more inclusive, participatory, empowered, and independent civil society in Trinidad and Tobago.

The impact of the international shift in state oversight of CSOs, in this case driven by FATF, has also impacted perceptions of legitimacy and credibility by donors at a global level, with increased requirements for institutional and staff education and training on operational competencies and skills. However, historically, an abundance of time and resources (human and financial), has been spent on building the capability or skills of CSOs in competencies that development actors believe are necessary to sustain CSOs’ impact. However, in under-resourced environments, these CSOs often do not have the capacity (regulatory, infrastructural, financial, human or mental space) to sufficiently utilise these enhanced capabilities. This differentiation is critical, particularly in environments where institutions are weak and/or under-resourced.

The Action seeks to address three (3) overarching constraints:

  • Inadequate CSO-specific legislation and the resulting consequences of bank de-risking and impacted CSO legitimacy;
  • Lack of national CSO competency standards and associated accredited credentials that are co-designed by CSOs and trusted by external actors;
  • Lack of a dedicated digital support ecosystem for CSOs, accessible to all, that require operational support but lack the capacity to fully utilise enhanced capabilities.

In mitigating these constraints, the Action aims to support an inclusive, participatory, empowered, and independent civil society in Trinidad and Tobago, through removing legislative barriers to their legitimate participation in national development; holistically building their operational capacity and capability; and adopting innovative and inclusive digital tools.

Project Brief

Key Activities

Enhancing the legal and fiscal enabling environment for CSOs

This pathway, led by TCF, aims to reduce regulatory impediments to the legitimate functioning of CSOs through a focus on revising the Non-Profit Organisations Act (2019) and mitigating bank de-risking of the sector, while enhancing CSOs’ capabilities to engage successfully with policymakers on behalf of the sector. This pathway will focus on creating an expert CSO FATF working group that will directly contribute to amended NPO Act (2019) legislation. Additionally, a CSO-led multi-sectoral working group, informed by a policy paper with current data on CSOs’ experiences with bank de-risking, will be created to formulate an action plan to mitigate bank de-risking by directly connecting banking institutions to CSOs.


Sustainable capacity building

Veni Apwann will manage this pathway in its aim to facilitate the development of nationally recognised accountability frameworks and related micro-credential programmes that will be co-designed by CSOs and national expert associations. A working group comprising CSOs and professional associations will develop and publish National CSO Accountability Frameworks on CSO Go for use by the national CSO population. Additionally, there will be a focus on developing CSO-specific micro-credentials, based on the Competency Frameworks, which will be designed to be delivered using a digital, on-demand format wherein CSOs can access a dedicated online learning programme at any time, and receive a nationally recognised certificate upon completion of an exam. Finally, a need-based scholarship programme will be undertaken for full uptake of the micro-credentials.


Building a distributed value network for CSO resources

TCF will lead this final pathway, where the goal is to develop and support a digital, distributed ecosystem that connects CSOs to national resource nodes that include providing free digital tools and dedicated support clinics. This Pathway is built along the action’s focus on capacity vs capability of CSOs, and will support a large number of CSOs in T&T which still remain very under resourced across all types of resources, and often lack the capacity to dedicate time, or even mental energy to professionalisation. After a landscape assessment of the local digital support ecosystem, TCF’s CSO Go digital platform will be updated to become a one-stop platform for CSOs to access short-term and discrete support on a wide range of operational and institutional needs. In parallel, the aim is to launch physical support clinics for short to long term support, using the spaces provided by action associates COSTAATT and the Alliance of Rural Communities (ARC). This hybrid model of the digital CSO network housed on CSO Go, and the physical nodes, will provide alternative spaces for CSO operational guidance and support.


Community Livelihoods and Resilience


Civil Society Leadership