Top Women in African Philanthropy: Part I

In celebration of International Women’s month, we are featuring African women philanthropists in our ‘Top Women in African Philanthropy’ series. From Nigeria to Zimbabwe, Kenya to Congo,  women are making significant contributions in reducing barriers to primary health care, quality education, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and many other development causes.

In this post, we feature the philanthropic work done by three formidable philanthropists and development champions: Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Joyce Banda, and Graca Machel.

Source: Twitter

Tsitsi Masiyiwa


Tsitsi co-founded the Higherlife Foundation in 1996 and serves as its’ Executive Chair. The Foundation is the parent organization of the Capernaum Trust which provides scholarships, uniforms, food packs and stipends to underprivileged children; the Christian Community Partnership Trust that provides financial support for church and church organizations working in the least evangelized areas of rural Zimbabwe; the National Healthcare Trust of Zimbabwe which provides financial support for medical drugs, human resources, transport in the event of a health crisis and the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund which also awards scholarships to exceptionally intelligent Zimbabwean children.

The Foundation is famous for its’ online interactive platform, Ruzivo Digital Learning. Through technology, Ruzivo delivers quality education to 8,000 primary and secondary school students every week. The Foundation has provided educational support to over 250,000 children since its inception and operates across Zimbabwe, Burundi, Lesotho, Rwanda and South Africa.

In 2016, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, gave Tsitsi an honorary doctorate degree of Humane Letters in recognition for her work in philanthropy. She is a co-founder of African Philanthropy Forum, a regional affiliate of Global Philanthropy Forum. She sits on the boards of PATH and END Fund, and together with her husband, is a member of the Giving Pledge.

Source: Wilson Center

Joyce Banda


Dr. Joyce Banda was the President of the Republic of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second female president. She is the founder of Joyce Banda Foundation which is focused on empowering women, youth and children through education, HIV/AIDS training and agricultural programmes. The Foundation offers free secondary school education to over 200 orphans in Domasi, Joyce’s hometown, has empowered 800,000 youths and 400,000 women.

Joyce’s love for humanity is demonstrated in her career where she served as Minister of Gender and Child Welfare before becoming a Foreign Minister, Vice President and afterwards, President of the Republic of Malawi. A recipient of more than 15 international accolades including the “Hunger Project Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger” shared with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 1997; President Banda also sits on a number of international organization bodies. These include the Executive Advisory Committee of UNIFEM, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the program in Global Health and Social Change at Harvard Medical School.

Source: The Partnership
for Maternal New born
and Child Health

Graça Machel


Graça Machel is one of the world’s leading advocates for women’s and children’s rights. She established the Graça Machel Trust in 2010 as a Pan-African advocacy organization focused on the development of women and children in the areas of health and nutrition, economic and financial empowerment, education and leadership. The Trust established the Network of African Business Women which identifies business women in various sectors and strengthens business associations in order for members to become growth-oriented entrepreneurs. Membership in the Ugandan affiliate is about 2,000 while Kenya has 250,000 members. New Faces New Voices, another programme the Trust runs, advocates for women’s access to finance and financial services through policy change.

Additionally, the Trust also runs the Women in Media Network which comprises of 34 highly experienced journalists from 14 countries which aim to change the perspective from which stories on women and children in Africa are been told. The African Women in Agribusiness network, an initiative of the Trust, propels women’s agricultural activities from subsistence farming to viable businesses that participate fully in the agricultural value chain in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and there exists the Graça Machel Trust scholarship programme which funds the postgraduate studies of underprivileged South African women in areas that are relevant to the region. Currently 91 women have graduated as a result of the scholarship programme.

Graça served as Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique for more than 10 years and is the former first lady of South Africa and Mozambique.

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