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Shifting Power to African Organizations

By 2050, Africa’s population is expected to double to 2.4 billion, meaning that 1 in 4 people in the world will live on the continent.1 And Nigeria will become the third most populous country after China and India. This dramatic demographic shift will have ramifications for the global social innovation landscape—and funders both in Africa and globally need to adjust.

While millions of social enterprises are emerging in Africa—concentrated in Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria—the majority are struggling to scale up.2 Their biggest challenge is the persistent barriers to obtaining funding from local and international organizations, particularly when compared to the funding that international NGOs and foreign-owned or -based social enterprises receive. Only 9 percent of large gifts by African donors and 14 percent of large gifts by non-African donors go to local NGOs.3 Most large gifts go to international NGOs based outside of Africa, operating foundations, and the public sector.

Over the next 20 years, this disparity must change so that local social enterprises can obtain the funding and support required to meet the education, health, climate, food security, and energy needs of Africa’s growing population. This shift will require a reset in the way that local and international funders, and international NGOs, engage with local organizations in Africa. For this to occur, African and global philanthropists, corporate foundations, and impact investors who are committed to supporting social innovation in Africa must embrace three critical actions.

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