Ambassador’s Special Self Help Program

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) program started in 1964 in Togo and quickly spread across the continent as a grass-roots assistance program that allows U.S. embassies to respond quickly to local requests for small community-based development projects. The SSH program across Africa received $2.5 million in 2015. This funding was divided by SSH programs at embassies in 45 countries, ranging from Angola and Burkina Faso to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program started in Zimbabwe in 1980.  It is distinct from the larger-scale assistance carried out locally by the U.S. government. This program focuses on providing targeted grants to assist small-scale ($2,000-$10,000), short-term (less than 12 months), community-driven development projects that improve economic and social conditions at the local level. The SSH program in Zimbabwe has awarded more than $1 million for community-driven projects during the past ten years.

Each project is expected to:

  • Improve basic economic or social conditions at the community or village level;
  • Support high-impact, quick-implementation activities that benefit a large number of people within one year without requiring further SSH assistance;
  • Involve a significant local contribution in cash, labor, or material, and be within the ability of the local community to operate and maintain;
  • Be in direct response to the initiative and aspirations of the local community (the local sponsors of the project, who will also be its prime beneficiaries); and
  • Not initiate, continue, or supplement technical assistance programs.

Basic eligibility requirements:

  • Individuals, businesses, and government entities do not qualify.
  • Applicants must be a registered non-governmental, non-profit, or community-based organization.
  • All applications must include a significant community contribution (cash, labor, or materials).
  • The organization must be entirely Zimbabwean and its members’ Zimbabwe Citizens.

Applicants must display sound management in the form of financial, administrative, and technical procedures and present a system of internal controls that protects against fraud, waste, and abuse.

After an initial screening, a technical evaluation committee reviews applications using pre-established criteria to assess the merit of each proposal. The evaluation process is objective and transparent; standard evaluation criteria used by the committee can be accessed via the link above.

If your project will improve the lives of Zimbabweans and your organization meets the basic eligibility requirements, we invite you to apply for funding! See the guidelines and application linked above.