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LAGOS, Nigeria, December 2, 2011 – The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and World Bank hosted a convening of African-funded philanthropic organisations on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, in Lagos, Nigeria to discuss the continent’s philanthropy landscape. The meeting reviewed the priorities and programs of African-funded foundations, with participants deliberating opportunities for specific collaborations as well as ensuring an effective enabling policy and legal framework for philanthropy at the country level.
“These are unique times for Africa,” said Tony O. Elumelu, MFR, Founder of TEF. “What this convening platform will do is create a collaboration framework for the emerging class of African-funded foundations, so that together, these institutions can have the same kind of impact that organised American philanthropy has had over the last century.”
Participating philanthropic organisations included the Brenthurst Foundation, the FATE Foundation, Kagiso Trust, the Kenya Community Development Foundation, the Made in Africa Foundation, the Motsepe Family Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Thabo Mbeki Foundation, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, and The Wellbeing Foundation. These foundations represent a combination of those established by high-net-worth Africans, African political leaders, and endowed community grant-making organisations.
“It was interesting to hear what other foundations on the continent are doing,” said Lebogang Mahaye of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. “We can make a more significant impact if we work as a collective, rather than as individual organisations.”
“I welcome the opportunity to participate and build new pro-Africa, pro-development, multi-sector synergies towards effective philanthropy, action and advocacy,” affirmed Toyin Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation. “The Wellbeing Foundation is delighted to be part of this innovation that will lead the way for impactful collaborations in years to come.”
As foundations become an increasingly important source of knowledge, capacity building, and financing in Africa, the World Bank is exploring how to work more closely with foundations to support sustainable, equitable, and inclusive growth in Africa. The current dynamism on the continent, and the emergence of new development partners, prompted the World Bank to review and renew its strategy for Africa this year.
"The emergence of more well-funded African foundations is indicative of the dynamism of better economic performance that the continent has begun to experience," said Obiageli Ezekwesili, the World Bank's Vice President for the Africa Region. "We see African foundations as critical partners in the implementation of our new Strategy, as they can test innovative ideas, take risks, and play a catalytic role to nurture entrepreneurship, citizen engagement, and social accountability.”
The meeting agreed on a series of steps for knowledge sharing and program collaboration to accelerate the growth of the African philanthropic sector – which are summarised as the ‘Ikoyi Initiative’, a nod to the location of what is now being considered a historic first convening of its kind for philanthropy in Africa.
“This was a one-of-a-kind meeting,” said Randa Adechoubou of the Motsepe Family Foundation. “The Ikoyi Initiative is a stepping stone in getting all the African key stakeholders involved in the process of transforming their communities and changing the face of the continent. The Ikoyi Initiative demonstrates that we are ready to be key drivers and not just recipients of change.”
While the organisations represented a diversity of sector focus areas ranging from public policy to health and education – as well as a diversity of approaches and geographic coverage – what they have in common is that they are part of an emerging new trend where Africans are taking charge of the continent’s economic development.
“This meeting could not have come at a better time,” said Janet Mawiyoo, the founding co-chair of the African Grantmakers Network and the Executive Director of the Kenya Community Development Foundation. “With improved communication among African philanthropic organisations, it is hoped that there can be closer relationships to objectively work together to address issues of resources and their allocation, maintain unity of purpose, as well as address the sustainability of African foundations. The ultimate goal is to achieve the institutionalisation and strengthening of organised giving in Africa.”