The Alterna Foundation works in resource constrained communities to build and strengthen institutions that encourage local innovation and entrepreneurship in creating solutions to local development challenges.
Despite the best intentions and significant expenditure, traditional aid that has come from international NGOs, foreign governments, and multi-lateral development agencies has struggled to achieve lasting results. International organizations often lack the local knowledge and relationships to identify contextually appropriate technological solutions and business models that have the potential to achieve sustainable impact. While local NGOs have an understanding of the context in which they operate, they are generally dependent on limited public funds and donations, and lack the resources and program flexibility to implement innovative programs on a large scale.
In recent years, support for local entrepreneurial activities has emerged and grown popular. However, this support is primarily reserved for organizations that are ready to scale a proven solution. The earlier stages of inventing, prototyping and launching new products lack the support and structure to be implemented effectively. The few individual and institutional investors that are willing to risk earlier stage support find it challenging to identify promising new entrepreneurs without strong local networks.
The Alterna Foundation believes that community innovation hubs can play the role of a local intermediary, to bridge the gap between local entrepreneurs and the resources that can accelerate their impact. We encourage, support and build community innovation hubs as locally managed organizations that have intimate knowledge of community needs and resources. The hubs attract and support local entrepreneurs that have identified opportunities to address local needs with innovative approaches, where other efforts have failed. They offer economies of scale in supporting local innovation by aggregating capital, expertise, knowledge, and resources, and better leveraging local networks and distribution channels.