2009 Congressional Budget Justification
USADF was created by the United States Congress with a mission to increase the direct participation of Africa's poor in development efforts. The Foundation has been a pioneer of participatory development methods (PDM), and its approach to PDM in Guinea has become a model for World Bank initiatives in Niger and Senegal.
At the core of USADF's work is empowering grassroots communities with the skills and knowledge to help themselves. The Foundation's approach is grounded in the assumption that the true development "experts" are the African entrepreneurs, traders, farmers, and villagers who know best what they need and what works for them.
Since its inception, the Foundation has been an innovator and pioneer of "participatory development methodologies" in Africa - the use of tools and techniques that strengthen local capacity and foster ownership of development and empowerment. All USADF-funded projects are "made in Africa" - proposed, designed and implemented by the beneficiaries themselves, with any needed technical assistance and training provided entirely by local experts. USADF's small grants are awarded directly to grassroots African groups and entrepreneurs. USADF's unique participatory approach builds local capacity and promotes self-help and self-reliance by unleashing entrepreneurial spirit and mobilizing community resources.
The Foundation's approach has been shown to enhance the impact and sustainability of investments. USADF pursues a bottom-up approach to stimulate broad-based, sustainable economic growth and to strengthen basic democratic values and institutions. The Foundation does not work through government agencies or international organizations; instead, USADF works directly at the "grassroots"- interacting with and supporting community associations, cooperatives, micro-entrepreneurs and small enterprises, and other types of social or economic interest groups. There is no "trickle down"; because of its community-based approach to development, USADF assistance directly affects people's lives.
USADF's philosophy and operations are in sharp contrast to virtually all other bilateral and multilateral donor agencies. While others in the development community wrestle with how to promote meaningful participation and ownership, USADF has been effectively doing it for 20 years in all of its programs.