“Localizing aid” is increasingly becoming an issue of focus within philanthropy circles, with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic demonstrating the mounting urgency for a new kind of philanthropy that is intentional about empowering local founders. At the onset of the pandemic, many international nonprofits in Africa pulled out their foreign staff, in many cases disrupting their work on the ground. This is just another reason why Katie Bunten-Wamaru’s mantra is “proximity matters.”
She is the Co-CEO of the African Visionary Fund, and is among those at the forefront of rethinking philanthropy and working to unlock more possibilities for local founders. African founders remain chronically under-funded by global philanthropy due to overlapping barriers including lack of proximity to funder networks and well-documented implicit bias, in comparison to their foreign-led peers. In fact, data shows that less than 5.2% of US foundation giving specific to Africa goes to African-led organizations. Internationally, only 0.4% of funding reaches locally-led organizations.
The AVFund envisions a world where African visionaries are recognized by funders as critical drivers of systems change and have access to unrestricted resources to accelerate their impact. This new pooled fund, seeded by a group of foundations including Imago Dei Fund, King Baudouin Foundation United States, Peery Foundation, Pilot House Philanthropy, Segal Family Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Tawingo Fund, Thankyou, and Umsizi Fund, recently made its first US$1 Million commitment to 6 African visionaries working across key sectors like education, health, human rights and livelihoods.
Katie will be speaking in the upcoming Istanbul Innovation Days during the Movement 1: “Questioning Identity and the past” plenary session on March 24. She’ll share how the African Visionary Fund is addressing the funding inequities that sideline African-led organizations from fair access to much needed resources, key learnings from her journey that others looking to support local leaders can consider in their approach, and much more!