An African lady holding a pole sitting infront of green bananas at a market with two ladies smiling in the background

Local Economy: The Impact of Community-Led Development

Vincent Mwangi shares his thoughts on how exploring the community-led development model can positively impact the local economy.

It is the dream of every individual to live a life that allows them to explore their full potential and impact their local economy. However, in most places, such dreams are limited to the opportunities available. Conversely, the priorities of outsiders determine the same in the global development sector. Unfortunate realities that we at MAMA HOPE are committed to changing.

The independent growth of any local economy is key to the advancement of well-being in any given community, and the Community-led Development (CLD) model allows this growth to align with the values of the community itself.

While the term ‘economy’ is so often thought of in the confines of finance; the work our community-led partners undertake expands beyond this boundary. Their work represents the social, political, natural, and human capital that actually makes up the true meaning of ‘economy.’


Two key components in the CLD model are at the center of impact that shapes how development is carried out. The mobilization of local resources, and local leaders holding the power to make informed decisions. 

Inforgraphic on how community-led development impacts local economies

There are benefits when a local economy is built from within. Local leaders have the ability to challenge how development has traditionally been carried out. In turn, increases their power to determine what development means to them, and creates space for more home-grown solutions. All the while remaining accountable to the members of the community they are a part of.


The CLD model works towards systems change. In our experience it provides much longer lasting and far more sustainable approaches. Mainly because CLDs are the closest to the financial, social and environmental impacts of any initiative; and decision making that consider these three pillars in depth. These elements are only just being recognised as foundational for functional societies, within governments around the world. Yet, CLDs have long understood the power of the intersection. 

“Community-Led Organizations normally start projects that are based on the need of the community, because they live in it, so when they lead in execution it is easy for the economy to grow due to the relevance of the project and close supervision of the project within the community.”

James Nathaniel – Founder & Director | Tanzania’s Children Concern

Through our partners’ work we have seen that it not only influences the community’s finances; but also other aspects such as food security, environmental conservation, healthcare, energy and education. All of which contribute to the development of the local economy. The model creates an ecosystem where all these aspects are interdependent. It means that every initiative a CLD undertakes has an impact on the community now and in the future. 


Independent income generation is a major gain for any community. That is why the model encourages it, and focuses on it being generated from local resources. Our community-led partners generate income from farm produce, rental units, transport businesses, and pure water projects.

These initiatives not only contribute to the organization’s revenue but to the community at large. Community members are employed through these ventures, others see their livelihoods improved as they gain access to such fundamental resources. 

Where partners engage in agricultural exploits, the nutritional wellbeing of the community is taken care of. Through increased food security, the community is less focused on where the next meal is coming from; and has more time to engage in other parts of the economy. 

There are community-led projects that focus on education and the health of the society. Access to education creates a long term impact on the advancement of a society. Educational projects nurture children, and youth equipping future generations with skills and knowledge to benefit the whole community. This also applies to those community-led organizations that are in the health sector. Central to the development of a local economy is a healthy population that is productive and creative. 

We have seen instances where community leaders contribute to the development of infrastructure. In such cases it enables the transportation of farm products to the market; and easy movement by community members from one place to another. Community leaders are also advocates for change in their communities. They are able to push for reforms through their elected officials to get access to development of their local economy. 

“I believe that the local community leaders are the development experts. They understand best the various needs of the communities that they serve. Through collaboration with each other, local governments and other stakeholders, they can prioritise and respond to the community needs in a timely and cost effective manner and spur economic development.”

David Omondi, Co-Founder Riley Orton Foundation.

The development of the local economy is highly dependent on the systems change that the community-led development model advocates for. To understand how it works, we cannot look at local economic development only from a financial point of view. Taking a wider perspective, there are various interconnected aspects & sectors that contribute to, the development of a healthy economy.

Finally, we encourage the continued investment in CLDs. The development of a community is best determined by the people who are close to the problems they face. And when we invest in this model, we are not only impacting the current generation, but also future generations.

Vincent Mwangi is MAMA HOPE’s Community-led Partnership Lead. Feature Image Caption: Asia Juma – Member of Boresha Jamii Women Group, Tanzania.