Africa has emerged as a region of stunning economic growth. It is the site of economic innovation and opportunity, business leadership, and rapid hopeful change. But continued social and economic progress hinges on participation. Growth must be inclusive and prosperity shared to ensure Africa’s promising future.
A bold, forward-looking generation of business leaders, philanthropists and policymakers know that a new model for growth is required if all Africans are to prosper. They see human capital and ecological resources as assets to be leveraged. They use enterprise, smart policies and strategic philanthropy as tools to address growing economic disparities and marginalization. They see a development agenda that is devised and advanced by Africans for Africa.
This is therefore a moment of opportunity for philanthropy in Africa; it can be a catalyst for the promotion of new ideas, collaboration and the cross-fertilization of practices across sectors. The continent’s philanthropists and social investors are already seeding promising enterprises and supporting effective NGOs, building a robust civil society able to advance Africa’s development goals. In the process, they are testing and demonstrating innovative solutions to festering social and environmental problems; helping to spur economic activity at the base of the pyramid, a step toward growing the middle class; and advancing transparency, accountability, and competence in the public, private and social sectors.
This Forum will bring together thought leaders in Africa to examine how the twin goals of expanding access and promoting equity will lead to increased opportunity throughout the continent, and how building a community of African philanthropists could contribute to Africa meeting its own developmental goals.
Philanthropy is not new to African societies. Reciprocity and giving are age-old practices that manifest regardless of socio-economic status. It is part of the currency of how communities and societies function. Even if it seems that few formal African foundations exist, it is worth noting that African citizens in the Diaspora remit more money (some $52 billion each year) than all other donors combined.
Philanthropy, however, has always been about more than giving money. In North America, philanthropic organizations have driven advancements in health, education and social equity. Today, Africa’s entrepreneurs and philanthropists have the resources, networks and opportunities to spur greater levels of social and economic change, beyond what cash-strapped governments or donors could do on their own.
Achieving this progress requires urgent and sustained attention. The art of philanthropy requires keeping our egos in check and a relentless focus on the public good. It calls for an insatiable curiosity, a willingness to listen and learn, the capacity to collaborate, rigor and discipline in evaluation.
The Africa Leadership Forum is aimed at giving participants the opportunity to share knowledge with sustainability leaders from Africa and internationally as well as focus on a road map resulting in long-term socio-economic development across the region.