Compared to North America and Europe, celebrity giving is still at its infancy in Africa. Birthday-inspired orphanage donations, t-shirt advocacy, and one-off charitable donations are still the norm across the continent, but there are a number of celebrities who are channeling resources to solve development challenges in more deliberate and structured ways. Here’s a brief look at 5 celebrity-owned foundations that are making an impact and transforming lives in these sectors.
Founded in 2007 by three-time Grammy Award winning musician Angelique Kidjo, Batonga Foundation works to transform the lives of young women across five African countries – Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. The Foundation’s focus on girlchild education originated from the difficult experience of a young Angelique often bullied for her desire of wanting an education. In partnership with local NGOs in these countries, Batonga offers underprivileged girls in the most remote areas with secondary school and university scholarships as well as provides after-school lessons and learning materials. In partnership with World Education, Batonga Foundation has given scholarships to thousands of underprivileged children throughout Benin. As part of its empowerment programme, the Foundation also provides financial training and mentors to young women, and financially supports teacher training programmes. Angelique Kidjo serves as a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and OXFAM goodwill ambassador.
Inspired by the plight of Ivorian children, international football star, Didier Drogba, founded the Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007. The Foundation works towards improving education and health in Ivory Coast mostly through the provision of learning materials for children and building hospitals. In 2015, the foundation completed its first hospital for children and mothers in Abidjan. Drogba uses his fame and popularity to support many causes, specifically health campaigns like the Roll Back Malaria campaign. Drogba is also goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Extended Hands Foundation empowers African girls and women through education and health interventions, particularly Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF). In partnership with the government and private organizations, the Foundation has facilitated and provided free VVF repair surgeries for over 85 women in Nigeria. VVF is a condition that can be experienced by young girls and women after childbirth due to obstructed labor and early marriage. The Foundation was founded by Nigerian actress, Stephanie Okereke, who directed and starred in “Dry”, a movie campaigning against the practice of child marriages and obstetric fistula. Stephanie is a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) regional ambassador.
Congolese-born Dikembe Mutombo set-up the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 2007 to improve the quality of life for the people of the DRC. Focused on health and education, the foundation opened a state of the art hospital – the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital – in Kinshasa, DRC. The hospital is equipped with an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a well-stocked pharmacy, and a radiology department. Dikembe intends to get 100,000 people to contribute $10 a month on his web site to support the hospital and medical research. The foundation works in partnership with local and international bodies in providing better healthcare to Congolese people who have been affected by war, hunger and disease. Dikembe Mutombo is a U.S. NBA (National Basketball Association) legend and played professional basketball for 18 years. He has been recognized for his philanthropic work with several awards including the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a U.S. based Foundation.
Kanu Heart Foundation, Nigeria
In 2000, Nigerian football legend, Kanu Nwankwo, founded the Kanu Heart Foundation to provide surgeries for children and young people with heart disease. In partnership with international health professionals and donor partners, the foundation has provided over 400 heart surgeries in Israel, India, U.S.A. and Nigeria with a 98.5 percent success rate. In addition to funding these surgeries, the foundation offers rehabilitation programmes to enable quick recovery. Kanu is a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) goodwill ambassador.
Just like these veteran celebrities we’ve highlighted, we hope that a new wave of African celebrities will take on leadership roles in applying their fame and fortune towards philanthropy.