Philanthropists carry responsibility not to repeat the failings of continental aid system

Aid offered properly, and with the right scope should be able to build resilient communities and livelihoods

By Tendai Immanuel


Philanthropy for sustainable development: Philanthropy is a word borrowed from late Latin philanthropía, and it means the benevolent altruism with the intention of increasing the well-being of humankind.

It is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money or other valuables to good causes.

Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim is arguably a true picture of the traditional view on what a philanthropist is. He set up the Mo- Ibrahim Foundation around 2005 to encourage better governance in Africa.

In an interview with the African Philanthropy forum Mo Ibrahim said it would be criminal not to help others considering how lucky he had been. Care and solidarity to fellow human beings are the main reasons he decided to venture into philanthropic work.

There are many other influences and drivers behind the philanthropic efforts by the rich and famous, which include supporting a cause, religious beliefs, profile building, personal gain, recognition etcetera. Mo Ibrahim points out that there is a thin line that philanthropists have to walk.

The ultimate question is that is one involved to get some personal business advantage or for the pure good to people.

Sustainable development

Remarkable strides made in African development have renewed philanthropists’ enthusiasm, and increased charitable contributions. In contrast to preceding decades, it has also put the spotlight on what local, African philanthropists can do to make a more meaningful impact.

This is because local philanthropists have insights that are crucial to maximising efforts to reduce the burdens of poverty, ill-health and injustice.

The 2018 Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index shows more people and organizations are giving than ever before, and that the gap between Africa and the regions that give the most has closed significantly in the last five years.

Incubated by the Global Philanthropy Forum, The African Philanthropy Forum (APF) was established in 2014 to build a learning community of strategic African philanthropists and social investors committed to inclusive and sustainable development throughout the continent.

The objective being to transform the culture of giving on the continent to the extent that it exceeds development aid by 2030 according to the UNCTAD Report.

Zimbabwe’s giving statistics in the 10th edition of the CAF World Giving index makes for bleak reading. According to the index, Zimbabwe is the 7th ranked country where people are least likely to donate money.

However the report, does, note that economic hardships are the main reason behind the low numbers.

As a Zimbabwean philanthropist and champion for sustainable development this statistic is not discouraging but inspires one to do more. It clearly shows that there is a lot more to be done in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the 2017 African Philanthropy Forum in Lagos I stated that crowdfunding was not new to us as Africans.

However, whilst leveraging tech innovations such as MPesa, Mchanga and the wider known platforms such as go-fund-me and just giving, there was need for us to harness our efforts via more collaborations, strategic giving and impact assessment in order to foster cummulative gains towards sustainable development for our communities and nations at large.

Philanthopy however must not stand on its own merit but must also lean on the tenets of good governance, sustainable development and be ever moving towards the true essence of democratisation of philanthropy.

Democratising philanthropy can mean expanding access to the sector as it is currently configured—providing more seats at the table while serving the same fare.

It can also mean transforming philanthropy by reallocating power over its decision making and resources.

Faith biased philanthropy is one of the leading forms of philanthropy across the continent. whether through churches, NGOs, small and start up charities to individual efforts.

Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa

In Zimbabwe we have seen leadership in this area from faith organisations that have built clinics, schools and offering food and medical care to the elderly.

Agape Family Care under the leadership of Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa reaches out to the less priviledged including widows,orphans single mothers, the Elderly and the youth.

During this COVID-19 pandemic era, they have initiated several distributions of food hampers to listed beneficiaries, non-listed beneficiaries, church members and non-church members.

This saw Agape Family Care imparting soft skills and training to the youth which are life long essentials. Agape also supported the informal business traders within their church so that they can gain footing given the effects of the pandemic on their work.

To extend their reach Agape Family care has extended it’s geographical reach and impact are by partnering with Angel of Hope Foundation.

This work which has been used as an example, stresses that philanthropic initiatives should not look at the immediate need but the future as well. Aid offered properly, and with the right scope should be able to build resilient communities and livelihoods.

If people are really genuine to get involved in philanthropy they need to learn from each other, what is effective what works, what doesn’t to avoid reinventing the wheel according to Mo Ibrahim.

Donor dependency Syndrome

It is pertinent to note that aid or handouts themselves are not a means to an end, but alliviate the immediate crisis. Lack of planning and sustainable development orientation can cause donor dependency syndrome.

In a hard hitting statement Dambisa Moyo (in Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa) the said Africa is addicted to aid. For the past sixty years it has been fed aid, and like any addict it needs and depends on its regular fix, finding it hard, if not impossible, to contemplate existence in an aid-less world.

This clearly shows that our generation is charged with changing the dynamics in Africa. Sustainability is the major thrust that should be the epicentre of development.

Everyone from big corporates to individual Zimbabweans locally and in the diaspora played a part, towards developmental change for the welfare of fellow human beings.The level of transparency and sharing of information which was implemented made the efforts by SOTZIM a success.

Nigel Chanakira

Transparency is a critical component of sustainable development and good governance. The tendency of secretive activities, backtracks development and makes it difficult to troubleshoot and improve. The panacea of sustainability and continuity lies in openness and allowing everyone to play their part.

Nigel Chanakira SOTZIM Chairman said: “I think one thing we did very well was keeping people informed. On our website you could see every dollar that was coming in and we’ve been clear about how that money was spent.

We also set up a Secretariat to run the administrative side of the organisation while the Board of Trustees has oversight. This separates functions for better corporate governance”

Can we as a continent outgrow aid?

The drive and growth towards more Philanthropic giving in Zimbabwe and for Africa as a whole must not be a mere exchange of the faces and hands that are giving but an intentional move towards tangible, cumulative, sustainable development.

Article was written by Tendai Immanuel the CEO of Triumph Africa using responses by Jack Makate one of the Directors of Vuti Quarries. Tendai is involved in philanthropy and sustainable development work across Africa in countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi and Sierra Leone. She writes in her personal capacity and is contactable via email





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