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2017 Conference Session & Workshop Descriptions

The 2017 Conference had an exciting line up of speakers and sessions.  Join us in April 2018 
Meet the Speakers & Workshop Leaders


Shifting Narratives on Africa: Media, Policy, and Philanthropy 

Narratives are shaped by the storytellers, and the dominant narrative about Africa is influenced by episodic attention. Media coverage is dominated by epidemics and famine, policy discussions focus on corruption and failing states, and philanthropy offers solutions to a range of “development” problems. During this session panelists working in digital media, foreign policy, and philanthropy will discuss the shifting narratives on Africa and share their perspectives on emerging trends shaping the continent now and implications for the future.
Panelists: Emira Woods, ThoughtWorks; Yinka Adegoka, Quartz Africa; Sahlu Haile, Packard Foundation

Supporting Rights in Uncertain Political Environments 

This session will discuss challenges to and various strategies used when supporting rights issues in uncertain political environments. The panelists will discuss the importance of connecting and directly engaging with communities, the importance of data in understanding attitudes and support advocacy efforts, and the importance of supporting civil society organizations that provide information to inform citizens. 
Panelists:  William Moses, Kresge Foundation (Moderator); Panelists: E.J.Jacobs, Nduna Foundation; Samuel Shapiro, The Other Foundation; Stigmata Tenga, Foundation for Civil Society

An Unlikely Scenario: Achieving Impact Without Strong Community Organizations 

This session will present key concerns and recommendations from the December 2016 UNAIDS NGO Committee report, An unlikely ending: ending AIDS by 2030 without sustainable funding for the community-led response. The report examines how funding approaches structured to track impact can exclude community organizations and the implications far beyond organizations working in the HIV/AIDS field. The session explores and reflects on the reality that how we fund inevitably shapes what we can fund – and the consequences.
Presenter: Lee Waldorf, Stephen Lewis Foundation

Talking Stick: Young African Scholars Program Maputo Workshop

This segment will report on the Young African Scholars Program Workshop in Maputo and share insights and feedback from this emerging generation of academics about what they think funders need to know.
Presenter: Nyeleti Honwana, H. F. Guggenheim Foundation

Talking Stick: APSO Initiative Communications Network 

This segment will report on the progress of the pilot collaboration between the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group (AGAG), Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) and the East Africa Association of Grantmakers (EAAG) to build to promote communications among a cohort of philanthropy support organizations working inside and outside of Africa.

Speakers: Evans Okinyi, EAAG; Niamani Mutima, AGAG; Stigmata Tenga, APN

Talking Stick: Making an Impact on Climate Change and Energy Poverty
This segment will highlight innovative approaches to two of the most urgent issues affecting the African continent today: climate change and energy poverty.  The speaker will report on the successes of the worldwide fossil fuel divestment movement in addressing climate change and introduce a new global campaign focused on energy access and how foundations can support these exploding campaigns with grants and investment capital.
Speaker:  Ellen Dorsey, Wallace Global Fund

Mobilizing Civil Society Across the Continent: The Africans Rising Movement

This segment will discuss “Africans Rising” a new broad-based African civil society initiative that seeks justice, peace and inclusive dignity, driven by people and is not confined by borders.
Speaker: Kumi Naidoo, Launch Executive Director, African Civil Society Initiative; (Moderator) Marcia Thomas, USA for Africa

The Role of Community Philanthropy in Advancing Africa’s Development Agenda

This session will explore the role and significance of community philanthropy organizations across Africa that are being led by change makers who are doing the real work of community development. These institutions do more than just provide small, often life-changing grants to the communities they serve. They are part of the solution as active participants in efforts to make a difference.  Panelists will discuss different initiatives as examples of a collaborative framework between large foundations and community efforts.  These initiatives have lessons for strengthening the role that foundations can play in building and in promoting transformative interventions.

Panelists: Irungu Houghton, Kilimani Project Foundation; Bheki Moyo, Southern Africa Trust; Bongi Mkhabela, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; (Moderator) Vuyiswa Sidzumo, C. S. Mott Foundation

Getting Collaboration Right: Navigating the Intersections Between Funding Women’s Rights and Environmental and Social Justice

The relationship between gender, natural resource rights, and environmental sustainability is complex, and funders can take a “silo” approach. This session draws lessons from attempts to bridge strategies between funders supporting women’s rights and funders supporting natural resource rights. It explores the challenges of a collaborative, yet focused approach and the difficulties and opportunities in working across funding priorities in a range of African countries. Panelists will include an environmental grants advisor working with grassroots communities, the director of an advocacy NGO working closely with both women’s rights and resource rights funders, and program staff at a donor organization trying to bridge approaches to grantmaking.

Panelists: Samantha Hargreaves, Women in Mining; Ursula Miniszewski, Greengrants Fund (Moderator); Violet Matiru, Global Greengrants Fund (Kenya); Cynthia Eyakuze, Open Society Women’s Rights Program

Helping Partner Organizations to Build Capacity and Thrive 

The buzzword “capacity building” has varied definitions, applications, and implementations in grantmaking. Community and grassroots organizations that are effective in helping find solutions to local challenges also struggle with obstacles that hinder their ability to access funding and deepen their impact. This session will present funder and grantee partner perspectives on different models used to provide capacity building support, the investment and evidence required, and the impact and pitfalls they both encountered.

Nina Blackwell, Firelight Foundation; Lisa Issroff, Issroff Family Foundation (Moderator); Alexander Kyerematen, Geneva Global

Concurrent Workshops 

1. Communicating the Continent’s Complexities

Too often when we talk about Africa, it’s the same old story. War. Poverty. Disease. Africa is full of diversity, talent, and opportunity, something you as grantmakers know well from your interactions across the continent. This workshop will help you challenge assumptions often made about Africa, craft stories and narratives about the people and organizations you support, and align your foundation’s brand with the issues and networks you care about most.  Facilitators: Robert Nolan, Carnegie Corporation; Kara Alaimo, Ph.D. 

In this workshop you will learn:

  • The power of positive messaging
  • How to better define your communications objectives
  • The importance of language and symbols
  • The role of storytelling and personal narrative
  • How to share your work with others in the field

2. Examining a System Change Model

Tackling a problem facing a community can often seem daunting, especially when as a grantmakers you know that issues are interconnected, and your funding alone isn’t enough to make a difference. Change can take place when efforts and resources align, something you understand in your work as grantmakers.  Facilitator: Doug Balfour, Geneva Global

In this workshop, you will:

  • Analyze the systems entrepreneurship approach used to transform Northern Zambia’s Valley of the Blind
  • Examine the strategic initiative approach to clustering local organizations to create both scale and sustainability
  • Identify best practices in measuring, evaluating, and understanding systemic change within a target geography

3. For Funders New to Africa: Figuring Out Your Entry Point

Often for new donors, funders with few or no staff or new program staff interested in funding in Africa, finding an entry point can seem intimidating. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could create a process for finding and refining alignment between your mission and your country(s) of interest?
Facilitator: Yvonne Moore, Moore Philanthropy 

In this workshop, you will:

  • Explore myths and assumptions about funding in Africa and build your knowledge
  • Identify strategies for connecting with potential grantees
  • Examine examples of successful projects and learning from what didn’t work
  • Understand what different types of alignment (government/community) means or looks like