When I landed in Nairobi after a long flight from Zambia to support the Secretariat for the 7th East Africa Philanthropy Conference representing Africa Philanthropy Network (APN), my mind was so engaged on the next three days. Passionate about social change and driving the agenda of African Philanthropy, I understand the need to reposition, rethink and reengineer philanthropy was not only an option but a necessity in rewriting the narrative of African Philanthropy.
The Conference provided the East African Community and the rest of the continent information worth tapping into, a conversation worth building upon, and narratives worth celebrating in our quest to reengineer philanthropy. Some of the areas that inspired my relevance as an African Philanthropist are;
In our quest to globalize African Philanthropy, we should never reach a point where we look down on that which is happening at the local level to please foreign donors.
As African Philanthropists it’s important to note that we cannot tell our own stories in the absence of data; we need to invest wholly in research: This was an important point that was established during the conference, taking into consideration that African Philanthropy is not a new narrative in Africa, but as old as African civilization, there is need for us to establish strong pathways and institutions that seek to consolidate data appreciating the impact of organizational, structural and individual philanthropy.
African Philanthropy does not exist in a vacuum; we need to invest time and resources in strengthening local capabilities and capacities, building solidarity and unity. We cannot expect to achieve social change divided.
To re-engineer philanthropy, we need to be bold and, in most cases, unconventional. For the future sustenance of African Philanthropy, we need to reach a point where the private sector, public sector, and philanthropy sector work hand in hand. Philanthropy should support civil society organizations for who they are and not change them into what they want them to be.
African Philanthropy by itself faces sustainability challenges, this challenge should be dealt with if we have to re-engineer philanthropy for sustainable impact. Philanthropy on its own is not a silver bullet it needs to be married to the advocacy movement. African philanthropists must labor to ask themselves the following questions if growth is their ultimate desire: Do you do what you said you will do? Do you do it within the time? Do you do it within the budget? Do you make the impact you said you will make?
Africa is giving more to the world than it is taking, and this needs to be consistently re-emphasized. Splashing money without getting the policies right will not get the change we are looking for as African Philanthropists. Language is key in development, it can either build or burn bridges. How we package our message is key in transforming aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change.
As we strive to create an enabling environment for African philanthropy to thrive we should never forget that systems that have the capacity to drive change have always existed but lack the necessary recognition. Hence, we need to champion the narrative that African philanthropy is a key driver for social change. African philanthropy is not just about charity works; it has the capacity to end poverty, curb climate change, strengthen health systems etc; and we have to recognize it as such. Lastly, there’s a need for us to understand that strong philanthropy infrastructure will help us to develop homegrown solutions and not always depend on external factors in championing local transformation.
The Re-Engineer Philanthropy Conference in three words was Igniting,Inspiring, and Awakening.
Looking forward to a more progressive conversation in our quest to champion Africa’s transformation.
*Mwila Chriseddy Bwanga, Communications Specialist – Africa Philanthropy Network is passionate about Governance and a Unifier of Youth Voices and Action for Africa’s Transformation