For a decade now, TrustAfrica has been on the frontlines of philanthropic efforts to address some of Africa's most daunting governance challenges. Here are just a few highlights of our work.
Planning Meetings (Macushla, London, Bahia and Jerusalem)
The Ford Foundation signaled the idea of channeling more serious resources to Africa. The idea gained traction when the May 2000 issue of The Economist presented a cynical and depressing snapshot of the entire continent, with a map on the cover headlined: "The Hopeless Continent." In response to the Ford Foundation's idea, staff held a series of planning meetings in Macushla House (Kenya), London, Bahia (Brazil), and Jerusalem.
Special Initiative for Africa (New York)
The incubation of TrustAfrica started as the Special Initiative for Africa (SIA) at the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York.
1st Continental Convening - Peace & Conflict (Maputo)
The SIA organized its first Africa-wide consultative meeting from June 23 to 27, 2002 in Maputo, Mozambique. It brought together forty-four scholars, democracy and human rights advocates, donors, and government officials from 20 countries to discuss SIA's first identified priority: peace and conflict.
2nd Continental Convening – Regional Integration (Addis)
The SIA organized a second Africa-wide consultative meeting from November 25 to 28, 2002 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It brought together forty participants to discuss approaches to make African regional integration (SIA's second priority goal) more effective, accessible and beneficial to all.
Continental Convening – Citizenship & Identity (Addis)
A third Africa-wide consultative meeting was held in Addis Ababa from June 2 to 12, 2003, with a focus on the subject of citizenship and identity. This convening brought together a diverse group of artists, writers, human rights advocates, funders, organizational leaders, and scholars; and produced exciting ideas for how TrustAfrica could strengthen the civic role of arts and culture practitioners, leading to the idea of an African Writers' Fund.
Pilot Grantmaking & Organizational Design
Over a three-year period, the SIA made three clusters of grants averaging $200,000 per grant to test the ideas and recommendations that emerged from the three consultative meetings. During the same period, staff and consultants produced strategy plans, policies and procedures for establishing the SIA as an independent foundation that utilizes convenings, grantmaking and technical assistance to advance democratic governance throughout Africa. The SIA was renamed TrustAfrica, and its founding Board of five distinguished Africans was established in October 2005.
Launch of TrustAfrica
On June 6, 2006, TrustAfrica was launched in Dakar, Senegal, under a location agreement with the Government of Senegal and with a $30 million commitment from the Ford Foundation, plus an additional grant of $600,000 for grantmaking to promote religious pluralism in Africa.
Over the last five years, TrustAfrica has received major grants from diverse funders for re-granting, convenings, technical assistance and knowledge building. Our staff size and board composition also grew substantially during this period. Our growth has been spurred by several factors, including the following:
• A combined grant of $3.4 million from the International Development Research Center (IDRC) to support policy research on investment climate and business environment (ICBE) in Africa.
• A combined grant of $5 million from Humanity United and Wellspring Advisors to support work that demonstrates the most effective ways of strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations in post-conflict countries so that they become more effective advocates for pro-poor development.
• A grant of $1.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help build a civil society advocacy movement to help shape agriculture policies in order to reduce hunger and poverty.
• A grant of $1.4 million from the Dutch Government for a seven-country program to increase the participation of women in governance and to decrease the incidence of violence against women.
• A grant of $600,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to promote equity in African higher education through support for policy dialogues, advocacy research, networking and technical assistance.
• In addition, TrustAfrica has leveraged funding from the Open Society Institute, MacArthur Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Oak Foundation to provide grants and technical assistance to African civil society organizations so that they can conduct effective advocacy on governance and social justice issues at the level of African Union and regional intergovernmental institutions.
• Finally, TrustAfrica has catalyzed the establishment of the African Grantmakers’ Network (AGN) as a platform for exchanging experiences of best practices, and recently TrustAfrica played a key role in kick-starting the Africa for Haiti campaign.