In advance of receiving the grants, Tostan trains the CMCs in financial and project management during two-day training workshops lead by Tostan Senegal’s Support for Development team. In November 2013, Tostan helped communities to create two CMC federations based in Sahre Bocar and Keur Gallo Debo in the Kaolack region, in the west-central part of Senegal, and trained them in these skills.
During the workshop, three CMC members represented communities from each of the 20 villages involved. These villages have all implemented Tostan’s program with the support of the Spanish foundation CEPAIM whose aim is to promote women’s rights and equal opportunities between women and men. Through the workshop, Tostan aimed to help participants understand the importance of federations as well as the roles and responsibilities of a federation member, to become familiar with the tools of financial and project management, to choose the 17 members of each federation of ten CMCs, and to develop an action plan for their new federation.
Each workshop consisted of two modules. The module on the first day centered around the attitudes and skills of a good federation member. Participants were split into small groups and asked to list their expectations from the workshop and the skills of a federation member. Then, their lists were compared with the goals of the Tostan team so that a consensus could be reached on the content and schedule of the workshop. After identifying the qualities of a good leader, participants easily selected the 17 members of each federation.
The module on the second day aimed at explaining to the participants how to manage the community development grants they were about to be given. The trainers showed them examples of management documents such as receipts, meeting minutes, individual sheets for material management, and invoices. Participants were informed of the need for each federation to stamp and sign the documents they issued out. The demonstration of these management document templates was followed by practical exercises helping participants, especially the new federation members, to practice working with them to monitor various activities and equipment.
A community development grant amounting to 500,000 CFA (approximately $ 1,000) was then given to each of the two newly elected federation coordinators to help fund community development projects as well as to establish CMC-run microcredit funds. Federations and community members could now put the literacy, numeracy, and project management knowledge they gained during their participation in Tostan’s program into practice for the long-term and sustainable development of their communities.