About the Centre

The African Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment (ACPSI), the first of its kind in Africa, has been structured to promote social change by building a culture of effective giving and corporate social and civic responsibility.

 

It will serve as a source of knowledge, a cultivator of partnerships, and a catalyst for innovation and community engagement. The Centre aspires to build a new cadre of African experts, researchers and academics in African Philanthropy, Social Investment and related disciplines.

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The History and Founding of the Centre

In the early 2000s, various African philanthropy foundations, that included TrustAfrica, the Southern Africa Trust, Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) and the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) identified a need for the generation of knowledge in order to effectively promote the teaching, research and practice of philanthropy in Africa. This led to the establishment of the Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) in 2009 and its subsequent promotion of African philanthropy through convenings, publications and advocacy initiatives.

In 2014, the Southern Africa Trust -a member of APN and the University of the Witwatersrand collaborated to establish the first Chair on African Philanthropy drawing insights and lessons from researchers, think tanks, academics, foundations, NGOs and private sector practitioners from across Africa and beyond. Consultative meetings were held with various stakeholders resulting in a curriculum and research agenda that are shaped by various pan African and international perspectives.

The Chair on African Philanthropy was the first step in the journey towards setting up the African Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment. The Centre has been established among other things to teach, research and train on philanthropy in Africa in general and African Philanthropy in particular. ACPSI houses several initiatives such as research fellowships, executive courses, PhD seminars, an annual conference and summer school among others.

The Centre was established to bridge the gap in the study, research and practice of philanthropy and social investment in Africa.

By formalising research, dialogue and publications and creating a consolidated, central platform for accessing this content, we hope to address the following issues:

  • The lack of formal documentation of African philanthropic activity
  • The knowledge gap that is created by the lack of dissemination of literature generated within Africa
  • The predominance of literature about African philanthropy that is either external or Western-based
  • The lack of a pan African narrative

Why African Philanthropy?

Philanthropy is an integral element to advance the development agenda on the continent. African philanthropy, by its very definition, is the foundation upon which transformational development takes place in the continent. African philanthropy – a term that was once foreign in Africa, even though its practice has always been a reality, and one that scholars have grappled with years to make contextually relevant – is at the heart of Africa’s development trajectory.

Development ought to be transformative, sustainable, and essentially based on Africa’s own institutions, informed by its own knowledge systems, and supported by its resources. Rigorous and independent academic research and scholarship is required to further develop the conceptual framework of an African-led development, anchored in principles and values enshrined in both pan-Africanism and African philanthropy.

There are a number of challenges with documenting and encouraging the broad set of activities that can be described as African philanthropic practice. Most literature about philanthropy on the African continent is concerned with external or Western-based philanthropy directed towards the continent, or this literature focuses on South Africa, Kenya and Northern Africa.

Although there is now an increased amount of literature on philanthropy in Africa, compared to ten years ago, there is still a big gap that exists as far as knowledge on philanthropy is concerned. The Centre’s central aim is to contribute to this knowledge gap through its research and publication agenda on philanthropy as well as through dialogue and best practice.

The Goals of the Centre

By formalising research, dialogue and publications and creating a consolidated central platform for accessing this content, the Centre aspires to achieve the following goals:

Teaching of philanthropy and social investment in Africa; and the development of a cohort of experts in the field.

Conducting of research on philanthropy and social investment in Africa and wider dissemination and sharing of knowledge.

Training of practitioners on philanthropy and social investment in Africa for an effective management of the sector and resources.

Growing a rich network of local communities, policy-makers, start-ups, foundations, enterprises and NGOs.

Applying a pan-African perspective on the practice of giving, acquiring knowledge and developing theories, models and tools appropriate to the continent’s experience, contemporary context and needs.

Consolidating and formalising the teaching and research material, to make it accessible to African practitioners, captains of industry, CSR practitioners, students and the civil society sector.

Aiding the next-generation of philanthropic scholars, by connecting them with social activists, donors and philanthropy professionals.

Positively impacting society through innovative research and social entrepreneurship.

The Objectives of the Centre

Promoting and furthering an understanding of the role of philanthropy and social investment in Africa and how these are practised by individuals, communities and private sector organisations.

Building a cohort of academic and practitioner experts and leaders.

Identifying and addressing key players, strengthening their capabilities for analysis, management and governance.

Advancing informed and evidence‐based policies.

Developing academic networks through workshops, conferences and community outreach.

Providing a teaching curriculum at postgraduate level.

Increasing quality theoretical and applied research.

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