CivSource Africa: Advancing Africa’s Development Through Strategic Interventions

In this interview with CivSource Africa, we see firsthand the power of community actions and how it’s shaping the development in East Africa.

Kindly introduce the CivSource Africa and what the organization does.

CivSource-Africa is an independent advisory organization that seeks to refine the practice and footprint of philanthropy in Africa, for authentic civic engagement. We are pioneers in the space where philanthropy and civil society meet and seek to foster an environment that nurtures mutually beneficial relationships and stewardship of entrusted resources. We provide thought leadership on strategic financing models for effective philanthropy and civic engagement. We also facilitate open and informed conversation pertaining to philanthropic giving and civil society organizations.

We do this through the following:

  •  Influencing Practice: We identify and support the work of funding agencies and philanthropists in Africa. We particularly seek to connect with and support local/Africa led philanthropy. We provide grant management and advisory services on context and strategy.
  • Strengthening effectiveness of CSOs: We support local organizations and organizers to capitalize on their strengths to reach their full potential.
  • Shaping narrative: We are ambassadors of stories of change, told in ways that empower and sustain flourishing communities.

What has been the journey so far in trying to change the narratives for African organizations?

CivSOurce Africa (CSA) has taken strides in changing the narrative through the following ways:

  • Equipping storytellers with skills and tools to capture and tell stories in creative ways that capture people’s attention and stimulate discussion.
  • Providing platforms to share stories of change through our various networks, active and robust forms of media using podcasts.
  • Working with young people and social justice artists to tell stories of change in their communities using various forms and channels for creative communication and expression.

Please share with us some of your initiatives, interventions, and reports? 

We seek to provide accessible, responsive, and diverse forms of philanthropy for resourcing African Civil Society. We do this through our grantmaking arm; CivFund

.

The CivFund currently provides funding through different funding streams:

  • Zishaye Grassroots Fund: Zishaye is a Zulu word that means to ignite. The fund supports grassroots efforts and priorities. The priority for 2021 to 2025 are land, water and climate justice.
  • Kuonyesha Art Fund: Kuonyesha is a Swahili word that means to show. The fund supports, promotes and celebrates art and artists in all their diversity in Uganda. It supports artists to improve the quality of arts in a way that enhances the meaningful influence and participation of art and artists around the issues shaping society and public life in Uganda today.
  • Usalama Fund: Usalama is a Swahili word that means safety/security. This fund seeks to support the development field to build awareness, learning and infrastructure to ensure that projects implemented by development partners do no harm to the communities they seek to serve.
  • Corporate Accountability Fund: Supports efforts that are aimed at enhancing understanding and supporting the corporate accountability landscape in Uganda.
  • Resilience Fund: A bridging fund that seeks to support organizations that were hard hit and are struggling to survive because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ujasiri Fund: Ujasiri is a Swahili word that means courage/audacity. It is a fund for and by local civil society organizations with a long-term vision of cultivating giving to support civil society sustainability. Ujasiri Fund raises resources through member contributions, investments, individual giving, donations, and fundraising events.

Through our intervention approach, we support partners with expertise and experience through supporting civil society leadership. We do this through our Leadership Program highlighted below.

  • The Mopane’ leadership program: The program supports leadership development and wellness of leaders through coaching and mentorship, facilitating collaboration among leaders, providing information to leaders, supporting appropriate capacity building interventions, and sourcing responsive funding.
  • GROW: This is a year-long mentorship program for young CEOs. By young CEOs we mean first-time CEOs, those that have started their own initiatives/enterprises in the role of CEOs and have no prior executive leadership experience, and those aspiring to be CEOs. GROW focuses on self-leadership, people leadership, money management, legacy, and succession. Leaders are provided with tools, resources and interactive assignments that support their learning and growth in the 4 areas.

As part of our initiatives, we also produce reports to advance the development of Africa. Some of our notable reports include the Giving Report and CivSource Annual Reports

Kindly share with us insights from your experiences in development and African philanthropy.

Four insights stand out from our recent meaning-making report entitled – Taking a Second Look: Analysis of the “Generosity During the Time of COVID-19” Reports.  This was a derivative of Generosity Reports by CivSource Africa whose aim was to document philanthropy, celebrate giving and provide a framework for accountability of philanthropy. 

Common humanity and African Philanthropy – How it looks in practice.

The spirit of common humanity is alive in Africa and was documented in the generosity reports derived from Uganda’s context. This spirit takes the form of “selfless love for each other and humanity exemplified through the diversity of giving gestures recorded.”

Is there a unique ‘African Philanthropy’ or do we only have philanthropy with African characteristics? To this, we found that the uniqueness of Uganda’s giving as documented in the generosity reports shows that philanthropy is not a foreign concept but a practice inherent in African society. 

Philanthropy is manifested in diverse ways. Its diversity contributed to the categorization of acts of giving into two, transactional and relational giving. The latter manifests altruism, compassion and is informed by a human capacity for empathy. The former is manifested by companies giving their products in their giving endeavors. For both of these, the motive helps define their categorization. 

Giving and Crisis – Community Response

Crisis-giving during the pandemic exposed a gap in accountability especially for the items given. This for CivSource meant there was a need to interrogate the confluence between philanthropy and accountability.

Giving in crisis manifested the true definition of philanthropy and further proved that giving was not a reserve of high net-worth individuals but an act anyone could do.

Our special thanks to the CivSource Africa for their responses that formed this feature. Connect with CivSource Africa on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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