Hivos: 50 years of supporting “sparks of change”

August 30, 2018

By Paulo Villalobos Saborío for the Costa Rican news platform*

In Latin America, the Dutch NGO Hivos supports causes related to human rights, protection of the environment and independent journalism.

This year, Hivos is marking 50 years of support for the “sparks of change” ignited by frontrunners who have gained the confidence needed to generate positive impact on society, primarily in terms of human rights.

This desire to allow new ideas to flourish in favor of a great change helped the NGO to grow and reach out to Latin America, Asia and Africa; leaving behind the economic contractions that overtook the world, as well as events like the Cold War.

“We innovate for social change, which means that we have always worked with frontrunnners whose ideas stand out from the rest and who are encouraged to use technologies and develop ways of working and organizing to start up a movement,” said Hivos Latin America director Myrtille Danse this morning on the radio program Nuestra Voz.

The work of Hivos focuses on identifying these “actors of change” and helping them with financing, technical assistance and even protecting them, so they can continue carrying out their efforts.

“We believe very much in generating impact. We work with platforms and groups so that they, together with us, can create strategies that lead to new solutions,” she added.

That is why Hivos came to Central America some 30 years ago – to assist minority groups such as people living with HIV or demanding their sexual and reproductive rights, the transgender population, independent journalists and environmentalists.

“These sparks of change in society are necessary so people can live the way they want to. In addition to providing funding for this, we focus on finding new ways to create impact and the right people to bring to the table for that change to happen,” explained Ana Sofia Ruiz, regional manager of Hivos’ freedom of expression and use of technologies programs.

Among the organization’s contributions to Costa Rica is its support for DataBaseAR on, which has made possible investigative journalism projects like Executive Rentals, Feminicides, and the #PanamaPapers – the largest journalistic investigation in history.

* This article was originally published in Spanish here.