Background
Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (Hivos) is a grantmaking NGO, rooted in the Netherlands and guided by humanist values. Set up in 1968 by the Dutch Humanist League, the Vereniging Weezenkas (United Orphans' Fund) and Humanitas, it has four regional offices located in Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia and Costa Rica. These regional offices are primarily responsible for contacts with partner organisations, offering them services as an advisor, supervisor and coach.
Mission
To contribute to a free, fair and sustainable world where citizens, women and men, have equal access to resources, opportunities and markets and can participate actively and equally in decision-making processes that determine their lives, their society and their future.
Programme areas
Hivos' most important activity consists of providing financial and political support to local NGOs. In addition to offering finance and advice, Hivos is also active in networking, lobbying and exchanging knowledge and expertise, at the international level and in the Netherlands. Hivos does not carry out activities itself, but makes available financial aid to local organisations and initiatives, enabling them to do their work and thus to achieve their own goals and the goals of Hivos. Hivos evaluates applications quickly and makes available flexible financing on a long-term basis; it is willing to finance the actual organising and to take risks for new initiatives. Hivos provides financial support to the following areas:

• Economic development
• Environment and sustainable development
• Human rights and HIV/AIDS
• Arts and culture
• Gender, women and development
• Information Communications Technologies (ICT)


Economic Development
Seeks to enhance employment and income opportunities by improving access to credit and information; providing advice and training; creating the conditions for lobbying and advocacy; promoting organisational development; and providing credit.


Environment and Sustainable Development
Seeks to contribute to the mutual strengthening of the various development dimensions in the economic, ecological, socio-cultural and institutional-political spheres; and minimising burden shifting where the various development dimensions can conflict with each other. Hivos supports organisations that take ‘absent stakeholders’ into account in their development activities and situate their interventions within a broad framework.

Human rights and HIV/AIDS
Offers support by giving direct financial aid to human rights organisations, promoting the exchange of experiences among human rights organisations, organising lobbying activities to promote human rights, strengthening the capacity of its partner organisations and providing and disseminating public information in the Netherlands about activities of Hivos partners in the field of human rights. Also supports efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS within a human rights context.

Arts and Culture
Supports independent and innovative initiatives of artists and cultural organisations in developing countries through its Hivos Cultural Fund. Fields of work include production, exchange, promotion, marketing and distribution as well as capacity building.

Gender, Women and Development
Promotes equal balance of power between men and women. Hivos supports organisations that seek to improve the living conditions of women and basic needs such as food, health care; help women again gain access to the resources necessary for development; improve women’s sense of self-respect and awareness of their position in society; ensure women take equal part in decision-making processes at all levels; and ensure women take control of their own bodies and of their choices in life.


Information Communications Technologies (ICT)
Aims to make a contribution towards eliminating the growing digital gap between the North and the South. Hivos gives NGOs and their target groups in developing countries active support in utilising the opportunities and possibilities offered by the information revolution. Hivos focuses on access to ICT; capacity building as regards the use of ICT; giving Southern content and culture a bigger presence on the information highway; making use of the possibilities of e-mail and the Internet for lobbying and networking; exploiting the economic opportunities offered by ICT; lobbying and campaigning in the areas of cyber-rights, e-governance and freedom of expression on the Internet.