The Atmosphere of Philanthropy in East Africa

By Evans Okinyi
What is the atmosphere of philanthropy in East Africa?

Philanthropy in East Africa can be categorized as Community Philanthropy, Faith based
philanthropy, Individual or family philanthropy and Corporate Philanthropy.

The East Africa region has seen the growth of institutionalized philanthropy. The region has witnessed an increase in High Net worth Individuals getting involved in various philanthropic activities. The Youths have not been left behind. Many young East Africans have actively been involved in philanthropy through their social capital power.

There is an increased recognition of local philanthropy as a key resource and implementing partner in support of the National Development Plan and SDGs. The government of Kenya for instance has proactively unlocked opportunities for the philanthropy sector to engage in policy processes that enhance organized data, government-philanthropy partnership, and implementation of the National education Sector plan under the ministry of education.

On the other the philanthropy sector has never been as vibrant with the establishment of the National Philanthropy Forums in Kenya Uganda and Tanzania – networks supported by EAAG and other partners that seek to build stronger conversations at the country level. Cross cutting agenda for the forums include collective philanthropy data management, enhancing an enabling policy environment for local philanthropy and collaboration.

The region has seen increased mobilization of local resources for local problems. Crowd
funding has been embraced.

Growth in technology has also seen an increase in digital philanthropy. It’s becoming more and easier to mobilize funds through e-platforms and mobile platforms towards supporting social courses.

However, the governments across the region have targeted civil society and restricted its space through a range of legal, administrative and political measures. The shrinking philanthropy space in East Africa has affected the philanthropic agencies space for operations. There is increasing push by the CSOs in the region to safeguard the space.

What is unique about philanthropy in East Africa, compared to other regions in Africa?

Strong regional and national philanthropy networks: The East Africa Region boasts of a very strong regional philanthropy network, The East Africa Association of Grantmakers and very strong National Philanthropy Forums in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This has in a huge way promoted philanthropy in the region as compared to the other African regions.

Level of Governments’ engagement: The governments of the East Africa region specifically Kenya have in a big way been involved and engaged in promoting philanthropy. In Kenya we see a lot of philanthropy government collaborations around education and health among other areas. There is a close working relationship between government and the philanthropy actors. However the civil society space is still targeted by the governments especially around human rights.

Evans Okinyi is Chief Executive Officer at East Africa Association of Grantmakers (EAAG)

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