Despite a growing pool of high net worth individuals and despite being the only continent that went against the global downward trend in 2016 in giving behaviors, philanthropy in Africa has remained uncoordinated and informal making it hard to quantify and measure impact.
The 50 richest people in Africa have a cumulative wealth of $100 billion, equal to 30 per cent of South Africa’s GDP. According to the 2017 World Giving Index, last year’s report produced by the Charities Aid Foundation found that “giving habits in Africa had recorded a positive shift after several years of little change.”
Still the continent is battling some of the most pressing problems including food insecurity, illiteracy and lack of medical facilities to handle diseases like malaria, among the greatest killers of children under five years.
The 50 richest people in Africa have a cumulative wealth of $100 billion, equal to 30 percent of South Africa’s GDP.
In the wake of globalization, the African Philanthropy Forum has sought to organize all the charity initiatives across the continent while looking into the evolving nature of altruism.
Started in 2014, the Forum has brought together some of the most recognized African philanthropists, social investors and businesses in workshops and regional meetings as participants learn from each other while seeking to grow strategic philanthropy by Africans in Africa.
It is an offshoot of the San Francisco- based Global Philanthropy Forum, founded in 2001 to champion international causes. It currently has a presence in 98 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Since inception, the Africa Philanthropy Forum has had four annual meetings in Ethiopia, Kigali, Morocco and Nigeria. Over 680 social investors and philanthropists from eight countries have participated in the forum so far.
Leadership is steered by the head of institutions that offer success stories in philanthropy and span Nigeria, South Africa, Benin and Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The list includes Tsitsi Masiyiwa, the wife of Zimbabwe’s business magnate Strive Masiyiwa who runs the Higher Life Foundation, which has reached millions of orphans, many who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. The power couple’s other charitable organization Capernaum Trust arm has so far paid school fees, offered medical assistance and life skills to more than 40,000 orphans.
Also on the list: Nigerian africaptalist Tony Elumelu, Benin’s singing sensation Angelique Kidjo, Manu Chandaria chair and CEO of the Kenyan-based steel and aluminum group Comcrafrom and Mastercard Foundation CEO Reeta Roy.
Key themes that have shaped debate in the meetings include African philanthropy in a changing global context, bold steps and big bets, the promise to the next generation and access, equity and opportunity.
Among the success stories celebrated in the forum have been that of Equity Bank Kenya, with over nine million customers, it is the largest bank by customer base in Africa. It focuses on the rural poor. Many have seen an unprecedented increase in financial literacy among the economically poor — so far over 1.5 million women and youth have been trained in financial education through the Equity Group Foundation — while their access to credit and other financial services through innovative banking solutions has increased.
And as calls for charity intensify, occasioned by pressing needs across the continent and globe, the African Philanthropy Forum is continuously adjusting its resolve in a bid to realign with the changing global face of giving even as it seeks local solutions to African needs — one forum at a time. ■