Article inspired by the LDP brief report by Robert Ninyesiga (UNNGOF Uganda, Forus member).

Forus developed a Leadership Development Program (LDP) for CSO leaders. It was facilitated by the Community Development Resource Association (CDRA). The Program started with online exchanges, then a 4-day face to face workshop in Dhulikhel, Nepal, followed by online exchanges and a back-home project.

LDP’s first cycle brought together 12 CSO platform leaders, from Zambia, Indonesia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, India, Nepal, Latvia, Brazil, Seychelles, Nigeria and Uganda, with the goal of stimulating a collective reflection within these social change actors.

The LDP was highly participative, engaging the participants’ own experiences and has created an opportunity where CSO leaders discussed in detail the current and future leadership dynamics within the sector. As Nomvula from CDRA stated, “Leadership is about the ability to connect with your power”.


The Leadership Development Program facilitates peer-to-peer learning and innovation in leadership skills & techniques. It encourages NGO platforms leaders to reflect on their role for a social change and bring the debate in their national contexts, with individual NGOs members of the platforms also. It incentivizes new communities/groupings of NGOs inclined to work more with other CSOs and other stakeholders, capable to adapt and respond to new challenges. It encourages leaders and emerging leaders of NGO platforms to work on issues of capacity development, social change and the role of national NGO platforms.

“This program gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge about the national platforms and about social change” (Dayasagar Shrestha – NFN, Nepal)
“For my self-inflexion, caring out the vision is very important and also learning from others, what works and what does not work” (Lewis Mwape – ZCSD, Zambia
“I didn’t expect this course to be so good, because I learned that in all continents we have the same challenges and we share a lot of issues” (Inese Vaivare – LAPAS, Latvia)
“What I think about this program, first of all, that is very different of what I have ever done before because it has a very interesting approach, especially in using a more personal approach” (Lola Loveita – INFID, Indonesia)

The quotes above are from a few leaders of national platforms who participated in the first cycle of the Leadership Development Program.


Four main topics were covered during the workshop:

1) Surfacing and sharing experiences. In order to propose a very concrete and critical Program, the participants were invited to share their own knowledge acquired within their practice and experiences. This part was also based on the research previously conducted by participants guided by questions such as “How does social change take place?”; “What CSOs in the world are stimulating transformative change beyond donor-driven projects?” and How to increase impact in working with a range of innovative aims, initiatives and relationships with different stakeholders?”

2) Understanding social change; exploring how change happens and sharing different models of change. Social change includes ideals, and those need to be lived. Moreover, social change needs to be understood, its framework and dynamics, since the way change happens is tightly linked with the context in which change happens. Finally, transformative social change strives to create new material conditions based on values such as the transformation of the political, economic, and social systems and institutions so as to achieve a just and equitable society.

3) Social change and the role of NGO Platforms. NGO Platforms have the potential to play a critical role in bringing about social change. For that, it is crucial that they are always questioning themselves on “what is the social change we are aiming to bring?”. Other key issues are the organization legitimacy and base of members, its strategic relations with policymakers and other institutional leaders, the need to establish their space (invited space or invented space), the management of the diversity within its membership and the focus on providing networking space meaningful enough to keeping the social change agenda alive.

4) Leadership required to support the real work of NGO Platforms. Leadership of an NGO Platform is complex and requires a complete analysis to create direction, alignment and commitment. Leadership can be viewed as a function or position, but it must promote collaboration, mutual learning and shared roles. CSO platforms need to take into consideration the leadership dimension when aiming for social change.

In conclusion, the Leadership Development Program has created an opportunity where CSO leaders discussed in detail the current and future leadership dynamics within the sector. As Nomvula from CDRA stated, “Leadership is about the ability to connect with your power”.

If you would like more information on how to apply for the second cycle (applications open in February/March), please feel free to write to Please note only individuals working with a Forus member (as staff or part of the governance bodies) are eligible.