Consultants for Change (C4C) is the name for a series of programmes undertaken by INTRAC, which aim to enhance the availability of high quality, local consultancy support. This ongoing effort is helping to improve access to effective consultants who are grounded in their local context. In this way, C4C represents a key part of INTRAC’s wider work to strengthen civil society.
The importance of quality local consultants
INTRAC has engaged in the professional development of national civil society consultants for over 25 years. This work has been rooted in our belief that enhancing the availability of local consultants is a critical part of decolonising development, and in realising the aims of the shift the power movement.
Our work on C4C also reflects the fact that the strength and sustainability of civil society depends in part on the quality of support available to help improve core functions of civil society organisations (CSOs). These functions can include strategy, leadership, fundraising, monitoring, and evaluation. A national consultant, grounded in the context and culture and able to speak the language, is better placed to inspire positive change in these areas.
In some places, the availability of quality local consultants is not sufficient to meet the need. Where excellent consultants are present, it is vital to multiply and build on their experiences. Too often, these consultants are overlooked in commissioning processes by global actors, or compelled to implement top-down solutions. C4C instead aims to support and increase the number of consultants committed to collaborative, transformative ways of working. With access to this kind of quality local support, CSOs can embark on processes that they own, and that can deliver lasting impact.
To date, we have delivered long-term, modular training programmes with ongoing coaching support for consultants in a variety of contexts:
- In Africa – Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania
- In the Middle East – Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and Saudi Arabia
- In Asia – Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan
Consulting with soul
Our innovative C4C trainings take a very particular approach that we call consulting with soul. We believe facilitators are more likely to catalyse sustainable change if they:
- Focus on the change that is required, not the contract or even the client’s satisfaction.
- Ensure the client genuinely owns and drives the process.
- Get to the heart of the matter and engage with the inherently emotional elements of change.
- Reflect on whether they are their own best tool, honing their commitment and character, not just skills and tools.
In 2022, INTRAC completed a five-year tracer study of one of our major C4C programmes, involving with 40 consultants from five countries. We found that five years on, the supply of consulting days had more than doubled; that collaboration amongst consultants had increased; and the quality of their consultancy had improved. More than 90% of trainees believed C4C had had a positive impact on their work. As one participant said:
“Now, change is at the heart of everything I do. Creating a sense of ownership is a priority. And contracting carefully: I am more at ease in negotiating the work conditions.”
With support from far-sighted foundations, INTRAC is currently exploring how best to adapt and replicate this vital initiative in India and Indonesia. We are also considering emerging opportunities in West and Southern Africa.
Contact and further reading
For more information about Consultants for Change, please contact us. Additionally, you can learn more about the C4C approach, and our past programmes, by reading the following resources:
- “Consulting with soul” (January 2017)
- “Graduating from consultancy ‘school’: reflections on C4C from Indonesia” (December 2017)
- “Who dares? Dealing with the ambiguities of consulting ‘with soul’ in Lebanon” (January 2018)
- Praxis Series Paper No.5. “Strengthening civil society through training national consultants: Lessons from the Consultants for Change programme” (May 2018)