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, and the process is ongoing.
Civil Society Bahamas — the umbrella organization for all NGOs, headed by Dr Anthony Hamilton — was a participant in the exercise.
The mass registration 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.
It 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 validate the organizations’ new status of compliance.
According to Bahamas Information Services, more than 700 representatives from 150 NGOs have benefitted from the “intensive” training.
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell, in explaining the “trickle-down effect” of the collaboration, termed it a “win-win” for all parties involved — especially those Bahamian families who will be able to benefit even further from extended and continued collaborations between the government and non-profits.
Campbell said: “This accomplishment is indicative of our desire to build capacity both internally and externally. 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.”
Dr Jacinta Higgs, director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, which has direct contact with the non-profits, 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…but hadn’t received responses for between five and seven years, which was frustrating for them because they were unable to operate a bank account, receive regional and international grant funding, et cetera,” she said.