powerful information: empowering local people to tackle social injustice and build a better future

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Who we are

Powerful Information is a British charity specialising in grassroots international development. We have a small professional team (based in Milton Keynes) supported by freelance consultants and volunteers, and operate in close partnership with civil society organisations here and abroad. We don't have in-country staff nor spend money on advertising or external fundraisers, and our approach is secular. We were awarded charitable status in 1992 and incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in 2002.

Why we exist

It is one of the paradoxes of our Information Age that whilst half the world struggles to cope with data overload (and unreliable facts & figures), the other half is deprived of basic education and essential information. Indeed, lack of education and the professional skills to make best use of information blights the lives of millions and condemns them to poverty: it denies people their rights and exposes them to exploitation and abuse; and it contributes to hunger, poor health and the spread of preventable disease. The causes are legion: conflict, poverty, official incompetence and or corruption — and for women, all too often, sexual discrimination and early pregnancy.

Powerful Information is working to bridge this gap, and the growing 'digital divide', to give people back their dignity and basic human rights. We set up PI in 1990 following a fact-finding visit to West Africa. And the core problems that we identified then with respect to information and education are still there today, despite the Internet and advances in information and communications technology (ICT).

What we do

Women from one our learning circles in Sierra Leone. Women
Powerful Information helps communities in low-income countries access information and know-how empowering them to tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice, and create a more sustainable future. In Africa we work with civil society organisations concerned with non-formal basic education and training in life skills for women and people with disabilities, including crafts, farming and cooperative working. We have also done a great deal of work in Eastern Europe on community development and environmental education. By working closely with local partners we get to know and understand the situation on the ground and over time, help local organisations become more operationally-effective and financially secure.

Over the years we have supported dozens of grassroots initiatives; and like many small non-profits we have developed some close and very special relationships with local people and their communities. Click here for a summary of the contributions we make to partnerships, or read What's New? for the latest on our various projects and notes from the field.

How we do it

Powerful Information has a people-centred approach to development based on over 20 years of practical experience working in some of the poorest countries in the world. We combine a hands-on grassroots approach with an understanding of the broader issues associated with international aid and human rights. We take great care to understand local needs and then work with and through local organisations to identify appropriate information and know-how and see that this educates and empowers. We also support practical initiatives that encourage community involvement, build social capital, promote social justice, and raise public awareness of important social and environmental issues.

July 2012: Workshop for development NGOs in Milton Keynes which explored the use of social media. Five groups were represented.
We collaborate with a wide spectrum of local organisations, from local authorities to farmers’ networks, women’s learning circles, special interest groups and schools. Our approach involves sharing tasks and responsibilities, learning by doing, respecting differences and people's experience and opinion, and keeping stakeholders informed. Our range of activities is represented in a diagram.

Our funding comes mainly from private trusts & foundations, government agencies, Comic Relief, and other grant-making organisations as well as donations from private individuals.

Our achievements

Press here to view what we have achieved or:

Photos: 1) Staff and volunteers with some of our partners from Vision from the Blind Sierra Leone during a fact-finding visit to the UK in 2011; 2) Farmers in Sierra Leone, emerging from one of our learning circles carrying their folders on their heads; 3) Workshop on Social Media for development NGOs in Milton Keynes (July 2012). Five groups were represented.