Lessons from East Africa Philanthropy Awards Conference

1:34:00 PM

Last week I blogged about winningthe East Africa Philanthropy Award and how I did it, today I want to talk about the two day conference we had before the conference; Mombasa was not just about beaches, tree houses and good food, we also had amazing lessons. The conference was titled; Is it business unusual and sought to explore the link between business and philanthropy and had an amazing array of panels from Betty Murungi who spoke about Social Justice Philanthropy to Acumen Fund and Safaricom and new generation givers who included Evans Wadongo who made it to CNN Heroes.

There was so much to learn but my 5 lessons where;
1.       Social Entrepreneurship – Impact investment – Venture Philanthropy
These three words were repeated over and over during the conference as they are the new trend in business and philanthropy. They basically follow the principle that the way to go is to equally do social good and make profit regardless of what side of the fence you are on (business or philanthropy). The new business/ philanthropy models take this into consideration. Businesses are no longer waiting to make profit then form a department called CSR which a polite PR campaign but they are incorporating it right from the get go. Philanthropy outfits are also thinking of sustainability outside donations and proposal writing and getting into business as a sustainability model.

A good question asked was, are NGOs sustaining activities or are their activities sustainable?

2.       If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – Ada, Vision 2030
We all want to make an impact in what we do either in business or philanthropy, but how do we know if we have made an impact? What is our measure for impact? Duncan from Acumen Fund confirmed that there is no one way or parameter for measuring impact and the trick it to fully understand what the project/venture is and then build goals/impact feels from it. Knowing this will ease management of what you are doing. 

3.       Communities
The government, corporates and NGOS all work with the community but none of these entities sit down with the communities, listens to their plight and major needs then bring a good/service. They all assume there is a need in a certain area, craft a solution and feed it to the communities. It should therefore be Private public community partnership – Nothing for us without us. The new trend is inclusion of communities in good and service production so that there is a sense of ownership, for major impact and also for accountability. Most bodies are only accountable to where the funds come from and not to where they use them. The challenge is now to empower communities to questions any goods or services brought to them and not just take it in yet it may not be of value to them.

4.       Safaricom Foundation
Safaricom is one of the most sought out partners for all who want to do philanthropy or are already doing it. A rep from the foundation highlighted the 5 areas the foundation works in;
a)      Environmental
b)      Economic empowerment
c)       Education
d)      Health
e)      Sports and Culture

5.       Acumen and fellowship
Acumen Fund also highlighted the four things that they look at in order to fund a project;
a)      Impact level of the project
b)       Who is the Team/ Management
c)       What is the potential of sustainability
d)      Will it be a game changer
Acumen also invest in leadership through their yearlong Acumen Fellowship…apply now

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