Building on a successful nine-year collaboration in Mozambique, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and ”la Caixa” Foundation’s JUNTOS! initiative was launched in Portugal yesterday. JUNTOS! – meaning ‘together’ in Portuguese – will strengthen civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Porto Metropolitan Area. It will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange and experience-sharing among diverse sectors, with the mission to foster an integrated ecosystem of informed and self-reliant CSOs.
Successful communities need vibrant local networks, resilient institutions, and people ready to engage and contribute. Worldwide, AKF works with tens of thousands of community groups to strengthen values-based societies, enhance civic institutions, and increase participation of all people. JUNTOS! represents our commitment to these goals in Mozambique and now in Portugal, with an emphasis on training, learning, and collaboration.
JUNTOS! was launched in Mozambique in 2014 and the Portuguese expansion maintains lessons learned in eastern Africa. In Porto, the initiative will reach more than 4,000 people, offering diverse training opportunities for CSOs including in-person and online courses, boot camps, and support for developing innovative community projects.
The formal agreement was signed on 9 November 2023 between Antonio Vila Bertrán, General Manager of ”la Caixa” Foundation and Karim Merali, CEO of AKF in Portugal. The signing ceremony also commemorated a nine-year partnership between AKF and ”la Caixa” Foundation.
“We are sure that this project will have a great impact on CSOs in the Porto area,” Antonio Vila Bertrán expressed.
Other esteemed figures were in attendance, including the diplomatic representative of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal, Nazim Ahmad; Artur Santos Silva, trustee of ”la Caixa” Foundation and honorary president of BPI Bank; and the Director of the International Area of ”la Caixa” Foundation, Her Royal Highness the Infanta Cristina of Spain.
Karim Merali, CEO of AKF Portugal, highlighted the programme’s potential for impact, “CSOs are committed to the public good and are like pillars that support the social edifice. JUNTOS! aims to contribute to their process of self-analysis, of learning from their own experiences to improve the management of their programmes, strengthening the evaluation and exchange of experiences without diminishing their autonomy and creative initiative.”
“JUNTOS! aims to contribute to [CSOs’] process of self-analysis, of learning from their own experiences to improve the management of their programmes, strengthening the evaluation and exchange of experiences without diminishing their autonomy and creative initiative.”
Karim Merali – CEO of AKF Portugal
The initial phase of the programme will involve identifying three key civil society networks linked to different sectors of Portuguese civil society, which will act as multipliers for affiliated community groups in the Porto Metropolitan Area. Chosen networks will address diverse needs such as the promotion of children and youth rights, support for minority groups, migrants and refugees, and people living with disabilities, among others.
With a nine-year history in Mozambique, so far JUNTOS! has supported 26 CSOs, reaching over 88,000 people through various courses and community-focused initiatives, including responses to crises including Cyclone Idai and COVID-19. Training courses cover diverse topics such as financial management, business skills, communication, resource mobilisation, community development, nutrition, and health.
In its new dual-country format, JUNTOS! will also support collaborations between Portuguese and Mozambican CSOs and host international events and workshops.
Over the coming years, the programme aims to facilitate 30 community innovation projects in Portugal and Mozambique, fostering community-led innovation, enhancing financial management, and promoting women and youth leadership. The partnership between AKF and ”la Caixa” Foundation sets a path for CSOs in both Portugal and Mozambique, driving them towards collaborative growth and innovation.
Many of the JUNTOS! blended learning courses can be found on The Learning Hub, a platform designed by AKF’s development practitioners and partners where others can grow their skills and knowledge.
JUNTOS! has been implemented, maintained, and jointly funded since 2014 by ”la Caixa” Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation.
”la Caixa” Foundation is a leading foundation in Spain with a mission to build better and fairer societies by providing opportunities to people most in need. Focusing strategically on social, cultural, educational and research programmes in global health, job creation, humanitarian action and emergency relief, ”la Caixa” Foundation helps combat inequalities across Africa, Asia and Latin America.