It's fair to say that Kleos, as an organization, is not comfortable with being confined. As a charitable organization, it seeks to be involved with the business community. As an international development organization, it promotes local progress. Even as an organization with a clear mandate and goal, it allows for autonomy in program creation at overseas satellite offices. These presumed contradictions are a point of pride for the Kleos model and are the driving force behind the current and future direction of the organization.
These first two contradictions have come together with Kleos’ involvement in Canada’s first Gender Equality Week. Rather than opt for a traditional gala type event this year, Kleos took the opportunity to instead celebrate gender equality on the broader scale. While Kleos programming has always centred around women’s development, the key to celebrating gender equality more broadly meant also reaching out to the local business community. The solution laid in the creation of Kleos first ever crowdfunding competition – where local businesses can compete to raise money for causes that support gender equality. In this regard, an opportunity arose to support women locally as well – this was through choosing Dress for Success Calgary as the charity of choice for the Gender Equality Week wrap up party. The charity, that works to support women as they enter the workforce in Calgary, aligns with the heart of what Kleos does. While neither of these factors necessarily benefit Kleos directly, they do agree with the broader vision of Kleos while broadening the range of potential supporters for programs that support Kleos’ vision.
Innovative thinking is central to the growth and future of Kleos as a whole. It is, in fact, central to the structure of Kleos itself. By creating satellite offices with independent boards of directors and their own constitutions, the goal was always for local organizations with local staff to assess the needs and design the solutions to the issues in their own communities. This dispersed expertise has already shown great innovations – most recently with the launch of Kleos scholarship programs earlier this year. While the original conception of this was to offer one university level scholarship per year to an eligible youth in the northern Uganda community where Kleos opened its first satellite office. However, the team on the ground asserted that the greater need in the community was not higher education, but employable skills. With that, a partnership with a local technical college was formed and the new Kleos scholarship program was born. Earlier this year, the program launched, sending five undereducated and unemployed youth to vocational school to learn skills varying from tailoring to automotive repair.
Of course, the program was then funded through a crowdfunding campaign that again, involved local businesses. Like with all things Kleos takes part in, both the impact and support are set to be lasting, even if they seem contradictory at first glance.
Read more about Kleos here: https://www.kleosmfg.org/