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'African philanthropy is a discipline that helps leaders shape how the world should look.' Picture: SUPPLIED/WITS BUSINESS SCHOOL
'African philanthropy is a discipline that helps leaders shape how the world should look.' Picture: SUPPLIED/WITS BUSINESS SCHOOL

“It’s widely acknowledged that the imbalances caused by Africa’s abysmal wealth-poverty ratio need to be toppled. What’s not widely considered is the fundamental role applied African philanthropy can play in equalising the scales,” says Professor Bhekinkosi Moyo of Wits Business School (WBS) in Joburg. 

“Philanthropy must be part of dealing with inequality. The net worth of the world’s three wealthiest individuals is equivalent to that of half of the population of the African continent — what that tells us is that there is a call for philanthropy to redistribute wealth and resources in equal measure.” 

Finance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation comprises almost 70% of the African funding landscape; a further 4% is provided by the Ford Foundation.

While a funding shift is starting to take place that should lead to a stronger intercontinental philanthropic network and co-ordination effort, more needs to be done.

Moyo points out that while the philosophy behind philanthropy is universal, every country, region and community experiences it differently. For instance, “Africa has societal mechanisms of solidarity in place that are driven by the goal to make sure that no-one is left behind”.

However, he says, in comparison with US or European approaches to this field, Africa has not yet created institutions to usher in change that’s aligned to the continent’s societal priorities.

Moyo sees the act of philanthropy — whether you share your contacts, time or money — as a day-to-day experience, a compass for how we do things, and a bedrock for how we formulate policies for the future. Thus, he believes that we’d be better positioned to develop an inclusive world if leaders were guided by African philanthropy’s values of shared enablement.

The field of African philanthropy links directly to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals and should be part of solving the issue of climate change and the future sustainability of our planet. 

“Ours is a discipline that helps leaders shape how the world should look and how to plough resources back into community to anchor our existence,” says Moyo.

He says at WBS, postgraduate study in African philanthropy is about care, transformation and sculpting leaders who put themselves “last in the line to receive”.

The Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment  at the school is truly pan African and provides professionals with a locally relevant and internationally recognised curriculum.

Postgraduate student at WBS Thandi Makhubele is assessing how philanthropists engage with women in rural parts of Limpopo through her master of management in African philanthropy degree. Her focus is on developing a case study that highlights the realities of such women.

She says, “From a literature perspective, there is a significant disconnect between philanthropical entities’ views and those of individuals in the country. Philanthropic action must complement, rather than dictate, what should happen, as our communities always know what they need.” 

Other dissertations being researched by WBS students at the centre include:

  • The African Philanthropy Index;
  • The Landscape of Social Investment in East Africa;
  • Mapping Philanthropic Foundations in Five French-speaking Countries: Mali, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Chad;
  • Tracing Covid-19 Pandemic affects and Responses in Africa; 
  • Understanding the Operations of Philanthropic Organisations in Africa: A Case of Six Selected Countries including SSA, Zimbabwe and Zambia; and
  • African Philanthropy: Context, Contestations and Overview of Regulatory Frameworks in Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Libya and Egypt. 

The various qualifications accredited by SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa) available at WBS include short courses that give students an introduction to the master of management programme or the postgraduate diploma in African philanthropy and resource mobilisation. The latter provides students with enough of a foundation to move into the master’s degree. 

WBS also has a partnership with Cambridge University in this field of study, and qualifications can be completed either full or part time.

The knowledge and skills gained through one of these qualifications is valuable for professionals working across various sectors and disciplines, from medical sciences and engineering to marketing, mining and manufacturing.

As Moyo puts it: “Philanthropy is a universal field. It is for people who manage big companies and those who pioneer start-ups. African philanthropy is for all of those individuals who know their existence calls for them to play a role in society.

“Business schools have been challenged to think differently and to infuse notions of complexity and human relationships into business and management studies. That is what philanthropy is so good at doing.”

Click here for more information about WBS's master of management in African philanthropy programme, and here for more information about the postgraduate diploma in African philanthropy and resource mobilisation. Applications are now open for the 2022 mid-year intake.

This article was paid for by Wits Business School.