‘The best place to start sustainability journey is to stop paying rent’ – ED PRIMORG

The Executive Director of Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) Okhiria Agbonsuremi has said the best place  for Civil Society organisations (CSOs) to start on the sustainability journey is to stop paying rent. 

Agbonsuremi said this to The ICIR in reaction to the applause gotten from the Macarthur Foundation.

The African Director of Macarthur Foundation Kole Shettima applauded PRIMORG for putting grants from the foundation into good use over the years.

PRIMORG, a Civil Society Organisation established in 2017, aims at promoting good governance, accountability, participation and the strengthening of the media through community and media engagements, training and collaboration.

Shettima made the remarks during an official visit to the organisation’s newly completed office building in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday, May 4.

According to him, the development means the 29 per cent overhead cost from the Foundation’s grant has been well utilised, adding that owning an office building is “one of the most important things every organisation needs, and not worrying about annual rent, which usually for many people becomes a big problem”.

“Having your own space is a very good idea, and I am happy that you (PRIMORG) have been able to use the resources that you have to have your own space as well. I wanted to say thank you very much for the opportunity to leave what I was doing to come to this place.

“From my perspective, 29 per cent of the overhead cost is to sustain the organisation, to institutionalize the organisation, and to make sure that the organisation continues to thrive, giving all the challenges of fundraising and others. We are hoping that this is going to galvanize every one of you to continue to do the work you are doing.

“We are very happy and very excited about the work you are doing and the fact that you are in your own space,” Shettima stated.

Reacting to the visit, PRIMORG’s Executive Director Agbonsuremi, appreciated the support of MacArthur Foundation in the past five years.

He also expressed his gratitude to Shettima and his colleagues at the MacArthur Foundation Africa Office for their support and assistance in ensuring PRIMORG achieved its objectives and deliverables.

“I am so happy that you (Shettima) found time to come because your schedule is very tight. It is the MacArthur Foundation funds that we have used. We are very excited and happy that within a short time, we were able to get our own office complex. We have internal joy that we have been able to apply the funds sustainably to promote our sustainability.

“It will help us work harder and move forward, and we will not be able to discount the support of the MacArthur Foundation and the Nigerian team in particular because we have had a lot of support from you. We are very excited that you are giving us all this support,” Agbonsuremi stated.

Speaking further to The ICIR on the reason why PRIMORG opted for a permanent office, Agbonsuremi said the organisation is on the journey to sustainable development.

He noted that the organisation paid N4 million for office space as a tenant, annually.

    “The best place to start on the sustainability journey is to stop paying rent through a reasonable investment in an office complex. PRIMORG was paying about four million naira (N4 million) as a tenant, and we knew this was not sustainable over a long time as the rent kept increasing.

    “We were lucky to get an overhead grant from the MacArthur Foundation. We thought it was an opportunity to rally the Board members and staff to apply the financial gift towards acquiring an office complex,” he said.

    The head of PRIMORG noted that the new office would provide an added benefit of generating project revenue for the organisation through rents.

    “By this acquisition, we not only have a place of our own, but we have the additional advantage of generating project revenue when we rent out part of the building we are not using for our operations. We could have used the MacArthur Foundation free grant for other legitimate things like capacity building, conferences and staff welfare. Still, we thought investing in our office building would benefit everyone more in the long run.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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