by Sello Hatang

At this year’s Nelson Mandela Lecture, Bill Gates spoke on the theme ‘Living Together’. Gates spoke compellingly to the fact that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. But to do so, we need to learn to do things differently and to find creative ways of empowering our youth to make a difference. We need to find sustainable solutions to what have become critical human challenges.

Gates is an example of the extraordinary steps an individual can make in transforming society. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has altered the lives of millions of people – particularly those in Africa – increasing life expectancy and education levels, and almost eliminating certain types of diseases. In addition, Gates has encouraged other HNW individuals to sign ‘The Giving Pledge’, which is a commitment by these individuals to distribute a substantial percentage of their individual fortunes to philanthropic causes. As of March 2016, over $365 billion has been pledged by HNW individuals globally as part of this initiative. In this way, Gates represents the personally invested active citizenship role that HNW individuals can play

The widely held understanding of philanthropy in Africa recognizes and presupposes the flow of resources, effort and generosity largely in one direction: from outside of Africa into Africa. For centuries that notion has remained mostly unchanged. Africa has the reputation of being a foreign aid dependent continent, which is in reality far from the truth.

Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago. The world is healthier and safer than ever. The number of children who die every year has been cut in half since 1990 and keeps going down. The number of mothers who die has also dropped dramatically. So has extreme poverty—declining by nearly half in just 20 years. More children are attending school. The list goes on and on.

South African humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers, the largest African organisation of its kind, has brought aid and comfort to people in need in 43 countries.

It has ongoing feeding programmes in South Africa, humanitarian missions in war-torn Syria and has helped to free South African hostages in Yemen and Mali. The group, founded and led by Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman, has helped to deliver water to drought stricken areas of South Africa and fed refugees in Somalia.

 Read More: Gift of the Givers: 25 years of philanthropy, by Owen Williams, Brand South Africa

This report presents an analytical framework for documenting and highlighting the different types of philanthropic activity being pursued in Africa by individuals, communities, and organisations. It first lays out an overall framework for thinking about different forms of philanthropy and then identifies four categories of philanthropic activity that have been the focus of this first exercise. We estimate the potential size of each category where possible, and highlight emerging observations from the 150 organizations and individuals that were profiled.

Social justice philanthropy is an approach that emphasises social justice principles in funding allocations. Funders enable support to those most marginalised through social and economic exclusion and assist civil society in speaking on behalf of those usually left out of official decision-making processes. Social Justice philanthropy includes the provision of resources necessary for structural changes that assist in minimising social and economic inequalities. It is also often known as social movement philanthropy, social change philanthropy and community-based philanthropy.

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