By: Avantika Seeth
“Anyone can be a philanthropist. You don’t have to be a Bill Gates or have lots of money. In this way, we encourage everyone to give whatever they can,” said Bhekinkosi Moyo, director of the Southern Africa Trust.
Moyo was helping out at the street shop hosted by City Press and the trust. The street shop gave 50 destitute women and children an opportunity to go on a shopping spree.
The concept allows people to choose what they like from donated goods, rather than take what is given, which is how charity usually works.
Tables were laid out with clothes, toiletries, toys, nappies, baby formula, books and sanitary pads, which were collected over the past few weeks by employees of City Press and the Southern Africa Trust.
The guests were then given vouchers, which they exchanged for the goods they selected from the shop. The shoppers were also treated to lunch.
The shelters that accepted the invitation were People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), the Frida Hartley Shelter for destitute women and children, Strabane Mercy Centre and Heaven’s Angels.
All the shelters are located in and around Johannesburg, and provide a safe space for women to get back on their feet after finding themselves in desperate situations.
Jeannette Sera, counselling services manager for Powa, said she was glad to have been invited by City Press.
“It really feels good because we have got mothers who are so young and don’t have any skills at all, yet they need supplies like clothes and sanitary pads. This helps our organisation a lot,” Sera said.
She said it is shocking that women as young as 25 have three children and don’t have skills to enter the workforce; as a result they find themselves destitute.
Currer Bell (not her real name), one of the shoppers, said: “I left my husband after he was abusing me, [I left] with nothing but the clothes on my back. I am now living at Heaven’s Angel and they are helping me to slowly get back on my own feet.
“I saw a pair of takkies which I would really like because my shoes are breaking apart,” she said.
Nomthandazo Nhlapo rallied the City Press newsroom to collect for the store. She said it had been a moving experience to help other women to whom fate had dealt such hard knocks.
“It was an experience I will never forget, seeing the smiles on the women’s faces and the children getting toys and clothes,” Nhlapo said.
Since 2014, City Press and the Southern Africa Trust have been profiling African philanthropy through the How To Spread It series. The many stories from the continent we have told have been about Africans giving back to their communities in money, mentorship and in kind.
The street shop was a chance to show rather than tell what a difference giving can make.
The Southern Africa Trust extends appreciation to I.C.A.R.E., Vukani Community Organisation, Enrich Africa and Udumo Entertainers for their involvement in fundraising activities towards development issues within their communities. A total of R90,480 was collected from different activities, click here to read about their profiles in City Press.
The Southern Africa Trust’s community engagement through philanthropy is a way of mobilising communities to take development into their own hands and amass positive energies which connect us in ways to do good and convert individuals as currencies for good.
“We are working with communities to respond to challenges of poverty and inequality in order to transform relations based on what people know and are familiar with, which is philanthropy. We think communities first and individual last. This is the promotion of the philanthropic space this project was seeking to achieve,” said Bhekinkosi Moyo, Executive Director at Southern Africa Trust.
Philanthropy, according to the Trust, is the energy flowing and connecting communities to respond to every day challenges.
The Southern Africa Trust, through Change4ever, is inviting you to support four community based organisations who seek to fundraise towards redressing social issues within their communities. The organisations are Enrich Africa from Witbank, I.C.A.R.E based in Hammanskraal, UDUMO Entertainers based in Mamelodi West and Vukani Community Development Organisation from Hammanskraal.
With support from the Trust, the organisations will host fundraising platforms within their communities from where they will raise awareness and garner support from local people and businesses. The events will showcase musical concerts, breakfast meetings and gala dinners.
Through this initiative, the Trust is engraining principles of lasting giving. By doing so, giving is sustainable and well-found to effectively respond to ills plaguing communities such as gender-based violence, violence against women and children, crime, education and drug abuse.
The Change4ver campaign is a public engagement mechanism of the Southern Africa Trust which seeks to engage communities in addressing social issues to end poverty.
By McBride Nkhalamba
In an intrepid move the Southern Africa Trust (the Trust) recently announced that they have partnered with Wits Business School to establish a Chair in African Philanthropy.
BizNis Africa caught up with McBride Nkhalamba, Executive Manager and Head of the Policy and Programme Unit at the Southern Africa Trust, to talk discuss the latest development and how the trust will be getting involved.
Can you tell a bit about the idea of African Philanthropy?
Our interest in this philanthropy is in specific relation to development financing – finding and developing alternative sources of development financing.
From studying global patterns, it is found that there has been an increase in remittance and investment coming from the diaspora into the African continent, classified as nothing more than simple remittances.
What is also apparent is that within the continent itself, African people have given either collectively or as individuals (not exactly in huge amounts, but significant amounts) to the social development of their communities and sometimes even countries.
It is also critical to look at African Philanthropy as any effort that is undertaken by African citizens to support materially, financially or in time, the development of their own communities and countries. That is the paradigm that we are working with when we speak of African Philanthropy.
Why did you to partner with Wits Business School (WBS) on this initiative?
The establishment of the Chair in African Philanthrophy was necessitated by the need to generate knowledge – scientific knowledge – needed to define and/or create the paradigm of African Philanthropy. More importantly ensuring that we as Africans own that knowledge and make it an important part of our thinking around development on the continent.
The importance of this partnership and specifically our interest in this space, is on expanding the understanding of and creating opportunities for diversifying development financing. We as the Trust strive to migrate from, the traditional understanding of philanthropy (money or material support from outside Africa often from high net worth individuals onto the continent) branded as philanthropy support for development, to a more dynamic and inclusive understanding of philanthropy in the context of Africa.
To do that you have to have an established function, an intelligent nerve center, within a credible institution, in this case we chose Wits University to establish the chair.
Is there a particular significance to the chair being established at this particular point in time, given our current political and socio – economic environment?
Well, there have been a number of trends one can look at, such as the increase in the willingness of Africans that live outside of Africa (diaspora philanthropy) to give back to the continent for development (social and economic) including investment. This can be attributed to many factors such as the change in political and economic environments that allow for more engagement in this regard.
What we’ve also seen are formations within a region, in relation to other regions traditionally referred to as the South to South.
BRICS for example established their own block that is related to their own thinking about looking inward at themselves for development financing.
The BRICS bank as an example is looking at resources from within the Southern region, in our case South Africa as a member of BRICS, which is also contributing to the thinking around the acting on the opportunities we have within.
This dialogue regarding the many resources available on the continent that we could exploit for our own development is not new. But this time around the fact is that these dynamics are underlined by ‘actions’. It is these actions that have brought momentum and driven this renewed interest.
How does the culture of giving in African communities fit into this paradigm?
Firstly, we need to agree and then also highlight that the key foundational aspect of any society or community – not just African society – is collective responsibility and collective liability, which calls for the use of collective resources.
The difference is that in societies such as Europe as example where the state as we know it was established as early as 1648, giving was actually managed through the administration of tax to the state. The taxes were then redirected and redistributed for the greater public good of the public at large. As Africa did not have this model of the state in the 1600s, (referred to as the Westphalia state) giving was traditionally done on an individual to individual, family to family, extended family and the community or community to community giving basis.
But the idea is the same. In order for one to claim that they have a society, there must be sharing, and sharing means giving from one to another. Whether it’s from a more endowed individual or entity in society to another, or from a like-endowed or differently endowed individual – society is fundamentally underlined by giving from one to another.
Philanthropy has thus always been with us as Africans, which is why we need to redefine it for ourselves on the African continent. To move it away from the notion that it is the giving undertaken by high net worth individuals to less resourced communities or individuals from outside the continent.
Given that the Philanthropic Chair is fairly new are there any objectives that you have in place in regards to your partnership with Wits Business School on this concept?
The primary objective is to see an increase in our knowledge of African Philanthropy, specifically focussing on the quality of said knowledge. It’s also important for us to establish the chair as an authority on how philanthropy is defined by us and what it represents to us, knowledge that is derived from and suited to the realities in our context.
The second objective has to do with employing the knowledge accrued to influence legislation and policy, as a way of creating a much more enabling environment for African Philanthropy. So the objective is to ensure that there is: appropriate legislation to support people who want to give; appropriate policies in place to support people who want to give and more importantly to create conditions that maximise the social and economic returns for people who are willing to give.
Again we must realise that a considerable amount of development financing can come from African Philanthropy if we have the necessary legislation and policy framework in place.
From the perspective of the Trust how does seating African Philanthropic Chair at WBS further the objectives of the Trust as part of your 2016 – 2021 strategy?
The partnership with WBS is a strategic and productive one and it has different parts to it. Firstly we have a funding partnership, meaning that we combine our individual capabilities to mobilise resources for the Chair in African Philanthropy. The Trust brings in foundations with resources while WBS brings in fee generated resources from its programmes for instance.
WBS also provides the organisational and institutional capability needed to operationalise the Chair. They also bring in the academic expertise required to generate the quality of knowledge that we need.
The Trust also brings into this partnership a very critical dimension of the value chain, which is the transmission of that knowledge onto legislation and policy. Wits University does not have the sort of network or leverage that the Trust has in that regard.
Once this knowledge is generated the Southern Africa Trust provides the avenue to translate and transmit this knowledge onto the legislative and policy framework within the region. It’s a very functional relationship. The Trust essentially brings in other critical actors who need to appreciate the significance of African Philanthropy to the development agenda in the region.
The Trust loops in international cooperating partners; development partners and development agencies as well as civil society and private sector membership organisations.
These linkages are also needed to start generating an understanding among not just the international business community, but the local business community as well, about what African Philanthropy is for obvious reasons. Ultimately this a very productive partnership.
Is the Trust going to assist with the development of systems and tools to assist with documenting and translating this research?
Yes, we as the Trust have a dedicated function to create and translate knowledge into user friendly content for different policy communities, in an effort to ensure that those communities are actually using that knowledge. We have a variety of knowledge types which we will be generating.
A quick example in regards to African Philanthropy is that we have supported and participated in studies that were looking at the legislative environment for African Philanthropy across the continent. We have also participated and supported studies that look at philanthropic freedom. There’s even an index that has been created by the Hudson Institute and we’ve participated in that as well. We have also supported studies that look at Philanthropy and its relationship with resource governance.
All these activities are aimed at creating an understanding on how public institutions and public policy actors, can begin to rethink the way they regulate various sectors in order to promote African philanthropy.
So in essence what we expect is that there will be policy instruments developed to facilitate the development of African Philanthropy at a national level. In parallel, at national level, once this is established we expect that various organisations that work at community level, will be able to propagate this notion of African Philanthropy as explained.
The Trust works with civil society formations whose membership is at national level and cascades down to local communities. Various tools including traditional development and social mobilisation approaches will be used to accomplish this goal. So if you like we have both the hard and soft infrastructure to ensure that we advance African Philanthropy.
Will you be making the concept of African Philanthropy part of your business culture? Is it critical to integrate this concept into your organisation?
Yes, it is already part of our business culture. But we have limitations in terms of what we can and can’t do from a national legislative point of view. We also have to consider our contractual obligations with those who support us financially. They have their own principles and requirements for us to be able to access their support.
But to a reasonable extent as an organisation, focusing on ensuring that our own staff have a clear understanding of what African Philanthropy is very important.
Why do you think it’s so important for Africa to have high quality documented archived information for us by us as Africans where African Philanthropy is concened?
This may be a contested statement but my understanding is that there is no civilisation without record and there’s no practical replicable progress without record.
Records allow us to understand and analyse phenomenon better. Records allow us to transmit that understanding for posterity as well as improvement. Records allow us to create ownership of the ideas and know-how by those who actually need to advance that knowledge or agenda.
Is there any initiative or program that’s coming up in the near future that people should look out for as part of the chair in African Philanthropy?
There’s a whole road map and agenda that is currently being implemented. Some of the key highlights though include the creation of the African Philanthropy Network whose chair is Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, our own Executive Director. He is a world renowned scholar of philanthropy who has delivered on the subject in various forums including UN General Assembly Special Sessions on the SDGs.
We do have some highlights in terms of events but there are also some very profound processes underway to establish the chair which are not only confined to Africa because we have an African Philanthropy agenda that extends to the global community of philanthropy.
The question of an enabling environment for formal philanthropy is an apparently simple, but actually complex one. Simple because its formality seems to make it both unnecessary and next to impossible to regulate. Complex because the definition of ‘informality’ depends on who is defining it and why and because the practices of informal philanthropy depend very much on who is practising them. In other words, you can’t impose an enabling environment for this kind of philanthropy from a textbook. It has to be built from the ground up. In Africa, a good place to start is the energy of communities.
The Southern Africa Trust will be participating in a discussion on Expanding the Role of Philanthropy in Financing for Development. This will be a side event at The Third International Conference taking place on the 13th of July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The discussion will emphasise the common ground between different sectors, and highlight policy choices that accelerate strategic philanthropic engagement and unlock funds – enabling and improving implementation toward shared goals.
To learn more about this event, click here.
The publication is the second in a series of profiles published through the ‘How to Spread It’ initiative, as part of an ongoing collaboration with the African Grantmakers Network. The first series of profiles published in 2013, highlighted the efforts of 26 prominent African philanthropists. This project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
African philanthropists are making a clear difference in addressing development challenges across the continent. Twelve of these remarkable individuals are profiled in the second volume of ‘How Africa Gives’ produced by the Southern Africa Trust in partnership with the South African newspaper City Press.
“These are the stories of people who live the giving experience. We are grateful to the many philanthropists who have given their time and told their stories, writes Bhekinkosi Moyo, Executive Director of the Southern Africa Trust. “Knowledge is power, and we have led efforts in building a knowledge base on African philanthropy. These profiles are part of our efforts to empower both seasoned and emergent philanthropists, as well as practitioners, policy makers and those interested in learning more about the field.”
Among those interviewed is Toyin Ojora Saraki who built on her own tragic experience to improve the lives of those less fortunate. South African singer Lira has leveraged her fame to champion the act of giving to end poverty. Ivorian-born Swaady Martin-Leke is harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit to celebrate and share Africa’s rich culture, while Robtel Pailey is changing the way her fellow Liberians identify and address corruption.
“The stories are varied, but they all have one thing in common: they tell tales of a continent where philanthropy has always been part of society’s fabric and where our people give back to their communities and continent, writes Ferial Haffajee, Editor-in-Chief of City Press. “The stories of these philanthropists also help us to map out giving on the continent and show up as a myth the notion that Africa’s helping hands primarily come from across the oceans.”
Supporting efforts to overcome poverty in our region is our collective responsibility as citizens of southern Africa. Through the Change4ever campaign, everyone has the opportunity to help make a difference.
“If you could change one thing forever, what would it be?”
Visit www.change4ever.org/donate to answer. Donations go towards supporting various anti-poverty projects. Your donations will contribute towards bringing an end to poverty in the southern Africa region.
Who do you give to and why? Philanthropy is about more than just giving money, but is also about people giving in kind. On Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Southern Africa Trust Executive Director, Bhekinkosi Moyo, spoke about how Africans give back with Africa Melane, on Talk Radio 702. The discussion came about as a result of the Trust’s How to Spread It series, in partnership with City Press.
Listen to interview podcast