In Benin, from 1994 to 2001, Africare supported the development of indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) into effective advocates of local interests as well as providers of assistance to the under-served. Participant NGOs ranged from associations of farmer co-operatives to microfinance networks to grassroots alliances of women. A total of 95 Beninese NGOs were trained in democratic practices, project management and community outreach. In April 1999, the Network of Beninese NGOs for Democratic Governance was created, by and for its beneficiaries, to extend the Africare-supported work. In addition, project graduates have gone on to become resources for other NGOs in Benin. They have shown what local groups can do when given the chance. It was the advent of democracy in Benin in 1991 that opened up opportunities for private-sector development generally, including the development of NGOs.
Africare has supported similar work in Burundi and Niger, among other countries. Africare refers to such programs as “democracy with a small ‘d’ ” ― because sustainable democratization depends equally on national political processes and strong civic and democratic cultures at the grassroots.