African Youth in Philanthropy and the AGN Conference

davids_250By Ashleigh Davids

The African Grantmakers Network (AGN) held its third Biennial Assembly in Arusha, Tanzania on 1st-3rd July, 2015. Themed “Philanthropy in Africa 2015 – People, Policy and Practice”, it brought together leaders in the field to discuss actions that will contribute to and sustain the growth of African economies. The program focused on incorporating contributions from by critical constituencies such as women and youth. To this end, the first African Youth in Philanthropy Conference was hosted before the event by WINGS member Global Alliance for Development Foundation, and Nexus Africa.

Considering all the eligible candidates across the African continent, we were deeply honoured to be invited to attend the first African Youth in Philanthropy (AYP) Conference which took place at The Palace Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania on 29th June 2015.

Our biggest discussion points centered around defining philanthropy. We believe that Africans call philanthropy by many names. It is part of our heritage, our culture, our value systems and way of living as African people – even so, we may never categorize ourselves or what we are doing as “philanthropists” or “philanthropy”. Does it matter?

During my time at the AYP Conference and later the African Grantmaker’s Network biennial assembly what I strived to highlight was that making this connection between myself and philanthropy has afforded me the opportunity to deepen my giving. As the delegates and friends of the AYP Conference 2015 – we want that for our peers and for our continent. We are looking at the growing narrative around African Philanthropy and how we make this an inclusive conversation for the enrichment of all.

We also find value in assessing how we can ensure that our new found network is inclusive, particularly for role players active on a grassroots level as well as underprivileged youth. How do we bring them into our spaces and take our spaces to them?

As we closed the conference, we gathered delegates from the various regions present and discussed the potential of collaboration post conference. We met a few times thereafter and definitely understood that the side-meetings and self-organized sessions we planned were only the first steps in a long work together.

We are currently engaged in developing the AYP mandate and dissecting how we can all get involved in sustaining what has been birthed through the conference. This is an intricate process which we are taking to heart by improving our communication and organizational skills which we believe could have been a bit better this time around.

Please be sure that you will hear from us soon and often as we partake in this mufti-faceted journey of equipping and strengthening young Africans in philanthropy and participating in philanthropic work as a collective.

Ashleigh Davids is a representative of Southern Africa Trust.

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