Officials at the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, have partnered with counterparts at the Office of the Attorney General to register almost 600 Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as Non-Profit Organizations. The collaboration resulted in the successful registration/approval of 580 of the 900 NGOs, Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that made application. The process is ongoing. Civil Society Bahamas, the umbrella organization for all NGOs, was a participant in the exercise. Dr. Anthony
Hamilton heads that organization.
The mass registration – inclusive of Faith-Based Organizations and Community- Based Organizations — represents a major undertaking by the two government ministries and their respective Departments, Divisions and Units, as the collaboration means that the NGOs – as registered NPOs — now meet the requisite compliance structures contained in the country’s Non-Profit Organization Act, 2019, that will allow them greater opportunities to access grant funding at the national, regional and international levels to help with their social development programmes throughout The Bahamas.
The partnership has also combined to host a series of seminars and webinars for representatives of the accredited organizations and has presented 400 Certificates that validates the organizations new status of compliance. More than 700 representatives from 150 NGOs have benefitted from the training officials have termed “intensive.”
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, in explaining the “trickle-down effect” of the collaboration, termed it a “win-win” situation for all parties involved – especially those Bahamian families from across the length and breadth of the country who will be able to benefit even further from extended and continued collaborations between government, the Non- Governmental Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations and Community-Based Organizations.
“This accomplishment is indicative of our desire to build capacity both internally and externally,” Minister Campbell said. “It is also a part of our deliberate intent of strengthening our partnerships with the various organizations and ensuring that they are best positioned to be independent, or to receive independent funding at the national, regional and international levels and so we are pleased that we have been able to assist them in accomplishing this and we look forward to strengthening our relationship, and the public continuing to benefit from this partnership even more.
“The main reason for us establishing and maintaining these partnerships is because we are mindful that no government can do it all alone and so we are always happy to partner with the NGOs, the FBOs and the CBOs that will help us to reach different persons with different needs in different places and that is where the benefit will come to the general public in that people/families who are
being assisted through our partnerships can now be better and more efficiently assisted,” Minister Campbell added.
Dr. Jacinta Higgs, Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, which has direct contact with the NGOs, FBOs and CBOs, applauded the collaboration and those organizations that participation in the registration process. “One of the concerns that we found among our NGO partners, particularly those in the Family Islands, is that they had applied for registration status for their NGOs which are the main portals/connectors from us to the community and to families. They had complained that they hadn’t received responses for between 5-7 years, which was frustrating for them because they were unable to operate a bank account, receive regional and international grant funding etcetera, and so they were greatly limited and worse yet, they were unable to access regional and ninternational grant funding.
“This very concerted effort, one that is still in progress in partnership between the Ministry of Social Services and the Office of the Attorney-General, is very significant and I applaud Mrs. Sally Lockhart-Pratt and her team at the Registrar General’s Department and Ms. Tiffany Moss and her team at the AG’s Office for the work they have done to help touch families across the archipelago in an even more meaningful way through this process,” Dr. Higgs added.