How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs
Namaste’s Bootstrap Model
This chapter provides an organizational analysis of Namaste, a foreign NGO founded by a successful businessman from California, Robert Graham, who was an early actor in the microfinance wave in Central America. Through a close analysis of organizational origins and trajectory, the chapter demonstrates how Namaste’s prehistory, rooted in Western business practices and social entrepreneurship, contributed to its model of bootstrap development. This model focuses on resources, individuals, and cultivating beneficiaries’ self-sufficiency through their engagement with the market. This history also informed Namaste’s other organizational characteristics, including its values, bureaucratic structure, and embeddedness in foreign, rather than local, networks. These characteristics ensured a reliance on specialization, simplified views of women, monitoring, paperwork, and quantitative data, as well as offering the NGO consistent sources of funding and international partnerships. The chapter thus highlights the importance of founding members’ dispositions/habitus in shaping organizational characteristics and subsequent trajectories.