Tools for Self Reliance, a broad-based voluntary movement, was started in 1979 by a handful of dedicated activists. Disillusioned by their experiences of development projects in Africa and the failure of overseas development assistance to trickle down to the grassroots, our founders took it upon themselves to work with small-scale community based groups and at the same time lobby major institutional donors and governments to adopt a more people-centered approach to development assistance.
In 1980, Tools for Self Reliance was formally registered as a charity with the mandate of working with local organisations in developing countries to relieve poverty amongst the local population. It was envisioned as being a practical way to support artisans and craftworkers in some of the poorest parts of the world. Although raising awareness and campaigning are integral parts of what we do, we specialise in promoting the availability and use of basic hand tools and providing the vocational skills and business training rural craftworkers and artisans need to earn a livelihood.
When we started the tool collection and refurbishment process provided people in the UK with the opportunity to work together for the greater good. Today, there are hundreds of volunteers in Tools for Self Reliance groups from Aberdeen to Jersey, collecting and refurbishing tools, and there are scores of others collecting tools, raising money and publicising our work. And people from all walks of life are involved.