It takes a partnership (or two or three or…): How EOS International is improving lives through meaningful partnerships

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.32.30 PMOriginally posted on EOS International’s blog, we are grateful to Greg McGrath, EOS Co-Founder and U.S. Director, for allowing us share it via Irish Impact.

How does an organization with limited resources end up improving the lives of more than 150,000 people? By creating strong partnerships with other organizations to maximize their impact.

In the seven years EOS has worked in Nicaragua, we have learned that there are many barriers to effective development in such a country. Our target population lives in remote areas and they face particular challenges on a daily basis. Their villages are difficult to reach. They have very limited funds. They are unlikely to invest in new technology unless it is recommended by someone they personally know and trust. They live on less than $2 per day. There’s only a limited amount of international aid available to address their needs.

But working together, EOS’ Nicaraguan staff, the U.S. volunteer team and partner organizations have helped improve the lives of over 150,000 people by providing access to low-cost, life-improving technologies.

Who are our partners? We have been fortunate to work with a number of different organizations, ranging from other non-government organizations (NGOs) to universities and even government institutions. We are proud to work closely with universities such as Iowa State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Minnesota; engaging students in development work that helps inspire them and provides new energy and ideas to our work. Social business incubators have also played a key role in connecting us with expert resources when we have hit bumps along the way.

On the ground in Nicaragua, working with other NGOs has allowed us to stretch our dollars by sharing the cost of projects, while at the same time leveraging resources and connections to increase our impact. Here are a few examples:

  • Compatible Technology International (CTI) engaged EOS and Self-Help International a few years ago to expand their geographic reach, infrastructure support and overall impact of the CTI-8 water chlorinator. Working together, the three organizations have brought clean drinking water to over a quarter million people in Nicaragua!
  • Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) made a historic decision earlier this year to open their first office outside of the U.S. They chose Nicaragua as their location because of the large number of EWB-USA projects happening there, the stable security environment, as well as the opportunities to expand in-country partnerships. Starting from scratch in a new country is difficult and expensive, so EWB-USA identified EOS as their primary partner in Nicaragua to leverage office space and infrastructure (trucks, etc.) to get them up and running immediately without breaking the bank. We are also helping host a EWB-USA monitoring and evaluation team this month and supporting their work with various EWB-USA chapters, all of which will help EOS gain close connections in new communities. This is another great example of how partnerships are helping us do more in Nicaragua.
  • Partnerships with numerous local and international organizations – such as branch offices of World VisionPeace CorpsOpportunity InternationalCatholic Relief ServicesCaritasCare, community, municipality, and national government ministries including health and agriculture, and local farmer co-operatives – have allowed us to leverage their trusted relationships in particular communities to help make our projects successful long term.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.33.47 PMEOS’ success to date could not have happened without our strong partnerships. As we focus on reaching our next 100,000 residents in Nicaragua, partnerships will be critical to our growth and impact. So if you know of an organization, program, academic institution or company who would be a great partner for us, let’s talk. To talk about new partnership ideas, please contact me at gregory.mcgrath@eosintl.org

If you like the idea of leveraging talent, resources and building partnerships—come partner with us! Your donation to our work is needed now. A relatively small amount can bring huge change to a family. Just $60 means a drip irrigation system; the ovens above can be made possible for a family with just $135. We make it easy on our website: eosinternational.org/donate.

Together, we can continue to improve the lives of thousands, one oven, one project at a time.

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Greg McGrath is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Spanish. In addition to his work with EOS, Greg is a Business Development Leader for Baldwin Technologies. While studying at Iowa State, Greg gained experience in designing systems utilizing sustainable engineering principles and appropriate technology. EOS International was the winner of the Notre Dame McCloskey Business Plan Competition’s Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact in 2011, as well as the Irish Impact Zielsdorf Family Pitch Competition’s People’s Choice Award in 2012. Appreciation to Giovanni Cruz for translation from the original Spanish to English.

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