Investing in African Visionaries to Accelerate Health Equity
African Visionary Fund commits to advancing equity, opportunity, and solutions led by proximate leaders on the continent through their integrated grantmaking approach which will increase the flow of unrestricted, multi-year capital and organizational development for 6 new African- led health organizations by 2024. AVF seeks to equip African-led health organizations with the capital and capacity development tools to expand their reach of services, increase their organizational resiliency, realize their core strategic goals, and accelerate promising localized solutions for their communities.
African Visionary Fund’s (AVFund) theory of change proposes that if we shift resources and agency to African-led organizations, then we are shifting power over resource allocation closer to the communities that they serve. Our Commitment to Action is to find, fund, and accelerate 2 African-founded and -led health organizations annually for the next 3 years as part of our grantmaking cycles (2022, 2023, 2024) , supporting 6 innovative health organizations by the end of 2024.
AVFund’s integrated grantmaking approach increases the flow of unrestricted, multiyear capital and organizational development support for African visionaries. Not only do African-led led organizations receive less overall funding, they are often boxed out of multiyear unrestricted funding. The power of multiyear unrestricted funding enables African visionaries to focus on efficiently delivering their objectives, unlocking larger funding over time, and increasing their sustainability to drive development in their countries and communities. By collaborating with funders and social innovators, AVFund will foster a relationship that is defined by equity between funders and African-led health organizations.
With AVFund’s support, African health organizations will be able to: use community-led approaches to lead to system-shifting impacts in rural and traditionally conservative communities, including expansion in women’s access to reproductive health services; deliver locally relevant mental health care; train medical clinical officers, laboratory technicians, midwives, and nursing professionals to serve and save lives from preventable illnesses, impacting millions each year; provide reproductive health products and services alongside economic empowerment programs that help women and youth enjoy healthy and financially independent lives; gain access to individually tailored and contextually relevant support co-designed relative to their stage of development or specific strategies; and access opportunities for networking and learning, with the ultimate goal of increasing their visibility and normalizing the cultivation of long-term, meaningful partnerships.
AVFund will launch this commitment in September 2022 and continue supporting 2 new African-led health organizations each year through 2024. Our milestones include:
Launch open application for African-led organizations in September 2022.
Recruit Grantmaking Committee members that bring proximity and expertise to our 2022 grantmaking decisions by October 2022.
Get to know prospective African-led health organizations through our grantee-centric and trust-based due diligence process from October to December 2022.
Commit multiyear unrestricted grants to 2 new African-led health organizations by December 2022.
Iterate and improve open application system based on feedback from 2022 round.
Provide bespoke portfolio services and organizational development support to 2 new African-led health organizations to accelerate their impact.
Develop communications materials to highlight & amplify the impact of our African-led health partners.
Launch updated open application for African-led organizations in September 2023.
Recruit Grantmaking Committee members that bring proximity and expertise to our 2023 grantmaking decisions by September 2023.
Get to know prospective African-led health organizations through our grantee-centric and trust-based due diligence process from October to December 2023.
Commit multiyear unrestricted grants to 2 new African-led health organizations by December 2023.
Provide bespoke portfolio services and organizational development support to 4 current African-led health organizations to accelerate their impact.
Develop communications materials to highlight & amplify the impact of our African-led health partners.
Launch open application for new African-led organizations in September 2024.
Recruit Grantmaking Committee members that bring proximity and expertise to our 2024 grantmaking decisions by September 2024.
Get to know prospective African-led health organizations through our grantee-centric and trust-based due diligence process from October to December 2024.
Commit multiyear unrestricted grants to 2 new African-led health organizations by December 2024.
African visionaries have consistently demonstrated their capability to create transformative solutions by responding to their communities’ emergent health needs during the pandemic, yet they continue to tackle the scarcity of frontline funding. African-led and -founded health organizations are uniquely suited to catalyze systems change in the continent’s health sector as they are the closest to specific cultural contexts surrounding healthcare in Africa. They are inherently invested, accountable, and more able to deliver relevant and holistic innovations.
While these organizations have the knowledge and experience to solve their communities’ most pressing health challenges, they only receive a paltry fraction of overall grants and strategic support. Just 0.4% of international humanitarian funding goes directly to locally led organizations (Devinit.org
2018, June 19) while less than 5.2% of all US foundations’ giving towards the continent goes to African-led organizations (Foundation Center.org; COF.org, [n.d.]) . Local organizations on the frontlines of serving communities receive less than 9% of the total funding from African philanthropists (Bridgespan.org, 2021, February 18) .
By fostering local leadership, African-led health organizations are consistently delivering impact at the frontlines—despite the scarcity of frontline funding. This funding gap severely limits the reach, impact, and potential of African-led health organizations. Without catalytic funding, innovative and tenacious grassroots organizations cannot weather long-term challenges, pivot quickly to respond to new situations, refine their processes, and build capacity to pursue impact at scale. Long-term, unrestricted funding and organizational development support are crucial for African-led health organizations to not only respond to a global crisis, but also to expand their reach, increase their organizational resiliency, realize their core strategic goals, and accelerate promising solutions.
AVFund continues to champion and support African social innovators by providing multiyear unrestricted funding, delivering bespoke portfolio services, and advocating for systemic change to make the funding ecosystem more supportive of African visionaries. In 2022, AVFund made a $1.8M commitment to 10 new Visionary Partners (Cohort 3) including five health-focused organizations, increasing AVFund’s portfolio from 15 to 25 high-impact organizations. Currently, 36% of AVFund’s portfolio – nine Visionary Partners in total – are health-focused. These nine organizations collectively served 228,100 people in 2022 by implementing locally relevant approaches to inclusive care, ranging from expanding women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and providing dignified care to children living with cancer to removing barriers to high-quality healthcare access in rural areas. AVFund also disbursed an additional $225K in portfolio services grants to its Cohort 1 and 2 partners ($15K each) , which its partners used to invest in their organizational development and resilience.
In line with its commitment to diversify and grow its pipeline of African-led social impact organizations, AVFund successfully piloted an inclusive, equity-centered open application system which allowed organizations to apply for funding quickly and efficiently. Over a one-month period, the application was viewed over 4,000 times and AVFund received 849 applications from 33 countries – 400 of which were not connected to its usual referral networks. Over the next few years, AVFund plans to iterate on this open application system to expand its pipeline capacity and enhance its database of African-led organizations. With a more robust system, AVFund will grow its sector-agnostic pipeline, gain a deeper insight into the innovations and trends in African-led development across the continent, and continue to connect funders seeking to invest in African-led organizations to proximate African leaders.
AVFund primarily seeks general operating support funding to help more African-led organizations propel their impactful solutions by providing them with flexible, multiyear funding. The central idea that drives our mission is to shift power and agency to leaders, organizations, and communities that have first-hand contexts, untapped insight and wisdom, and innovative solutions for uprooting inequitable systems in Africa. Additional resources and support in amplifying AVFund’s work and platform will bolster organizational capacities to engage funders at every level or income in making informed decisions about how to invest in and partner with local organizations across a wide range of sectors that are making a difference in their countries and communities
To support African health organizations, AVFund is committing multiyear, unrestricted grants to drive their agency to invest in core programs and organizational development initiatives ensuring their resilience and long-term sustainability. AVFund’s organizational development programming co-designed with partners will also help them access individually tailored and contextually relevant support based on a deep understanding of their work and methods.
AVFund also provides funders an efficient pathway to move resources quickly to African-led organizations without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops. Our core community of funders are given access to our portfolio of partners, our grantmaking systems, and a community of like-minded funders. We intend to set-up a system for engaging like-minded funders who prefer to invest in African-led organizations directly and recommend or connect them with partners from our current pipeline and/or portfolio who align with their geographic and sector interests.