Model & Strategy

Spark’s model is a democratic, community-based approach to international development, built on the belief that communities facing poverty have the knowledge to solve local problems but lack the resources and capacity to do so.

Spark trains emerging governments and leading civil society organizations in deploying an inclusive village planning process where women and men, young and old, plan for local development together. Each village engages in a 6-month planning process and is awarded a 1-time $8,000 village fund to turn a project— such as a farm or a school —into reality. Each village launches a savings fund to finance future local projects.

At a Glance
Founded: 2010
Co-Founder & Executive Director: Sasha Fisher
Economic Empowerment
Location of work: International, Africa
Spark Microgrants
New York, NY
Enabling communities to put their ideas into action
Meet Sasha Fisher

Sasha co-founded Spark in 2010 after experiencing the power of community-driven development at local NGOs in southern India and the negative side effects of top-down aid on local drive and innovation while working in South Sudan. She wanted to know how to catalyze rural villages who aren’t organized into action. Sasha has a BA in Human Security and Studio Arts.

Sasha moved to East Africa in July 2010 to develop the Spark MicroGrants model. Her previous experiences in South Sudan, South Africa, India, and Uganda have led to her passion for community-led development. Sasha holds a BA from the University of Vermont in Studio Art and a self-designed major of Human Security, a paradigm for development that recognizes the rising legitimacy of non-state actors in securing basic human needs.


Spark has worked with over 320 rural communities across Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Ghana, and has benefitted over 250,000 lives.

Spark village partners have collectively launched over 505 projects, with over 300 projects implemented independently after the Spark process. 86% of projects are successful and 85% of communities continue to meet regularly after Spark, with 93% launching secondary projects independently of Spark.

Spark is currently working with the Government of Rwanda on a national scale strategy to ensure that every village across Rwanda can benefit from the Spark process.