TrustAfrica Now
December 2010
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Greetings from Dakar!

A few weeks ago I returned from a three-month sabbatical, my first extended break since we began laying the groundwork for TrustAfrica nearly a decade ago. For me, it was a welcome period of rest, reflection and writing. For TrustAfrica, it was a timely opportunity to show how deep the talent runs within our organization.

One of the toughest things every civil society organization faces is the tendency to become too dependent on its founding director. As I take stock of what our staff has achieved in my absence, and how smoothly our operations have run, it is clear that we are well ahead of the game and poised for long-term sustainability.

This edition of TrustAfrica Now describes some of our most significant activities and accomplishment in recent months.

Chronicling a Fruitful Year
2009 annual report available for download
annual report cover

Our fourth annual report looks back over the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010. In a year when Africa was grappling with an ongoing global recession, TrustAfrica was able to make more grants, convene more dialogues, forge more partnerships and raise more funds than ever before. The redesign for this year's report adds a new dimension by giving voice to some of our grantees and other partners on the continent.

Strengthening African Philanthropy
African grantmakers hold first continental assembly
African Grantmakers Network

Some 230 philanthropic leaders from nearly 50 organizations in 13 African countries met Nov. 3-5 in Nairobi for the first Pan-African Grantmakers Assembly. The event was convened by the African Grantmakers' Network, which TrustAfrica and several of its peers established last year, to reflect on how African grantmakers can drive social, political and economic change and how to strengthen philanthropic practice in Africa. Alliance Magazine called the event "a resounding success," adding that "Hopes and expectations have now risen for this emergent network that should in the years ahead play a critical role for and within African philanthropy."

Nigeria grantmakers reflect on trends and best practices

A smaller set of grantmakers met for the Nigerian Philanthropy Forum, held Dec. 2-3 in Abuja. Hosted by the T.Y. Tanjuma Foundation with partial support from TrustAfrica, the event brought together philanthropic organizations, community self-help groups, bilateral and multilateral donors, government agencies and private enterprises to deliberate and strategize on how various forms of philanthropy can contribute to social development.

Gaining Recognition on the Global Stage
Clinton Global Initiative features TrustAfrica
Clinton Global Initiative

TrustAfrica's commitment to strengthening private enterprise and fostering pro-poor growth throughout Africa was featured Sept. 23 at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting. Now entering its second phase, our ICBE Research Fund will provide $2.7 million over the next three years for pioneering research on ways to stimulate the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and ensure that prosperity is broadly shared. Akwasi Aidoo took a break from his sabbatical to join Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times on stage at the event.

Making Markets Work for the Poor
Phase II of ICBE Research Fund gets under way
Gaborone business manager

In recent weeks we have been conducting due diligence on the research projects selected by the pan-African jury for our ICBE Research Fund, which seeks to build knowledge about ways to strengthen private enterprise and foster pro-poor growth. We plan to announce winners in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, we made a presentation about the research we fund at a Cairo conference on the role of think tanks in developing countries.

Strengthening Civil Society in Liberia
Grantees take stock, then look to emerging challenges and opportunities
Liberia sand

TrustAfrica staff and Liberian grantees convened in Monrovia Nov. 22-24 to reflect on the challenges and successes of the last two years as well as emerging opportunities for strengthening democratic governance in Liberia. Participants evaluated the work that has been conducted through this initiative as well as the technical assistance we provided to each grantee. Looking forward, they also deliberated on how the next phase of the initiative can best help the civil society sector to ensure that Liberia's upcoming elections are free, fair and transparent and that the electoral playing field is level for all political players.

Enhancing Women's Dignity
Training workshop and toolkit build advocacy skills

Women activists from all over West Africa gathered Oct. 18-22 in Saly, Senegal, for a workshop cosponsored by TrustAfrica and UNIFEM. Participants explored ways to advance legislation on gender-based violence by strengthening advocacy, mobilizing resources and fostering dialogue between civil society networks. Many of the participants had received grants through our MDG3 Project, which works to curb gender violence and strengthen women's political participation. The workshop introduced them to a new toolkit developed by TrustAfrica to strengthen the capacity of women civil society leaders with regard to advocacy and strategic communication. The toolkit is now available in French, and an English version is in the works.

Caravans in Senegal raise awareness of gender violence

One of our MDG3 grantees has been taking its message to the streets by organizing caravans in Senegal to raise awareness about gender-based violence. In November we tagged along with Comité de Lutte contre les Violences faites aux Femmes for an 8-hour ride through the streets of Dakar and on to the nearby community of Malika. We have uploaded a set of photos showing participants as well as some of the men, women and children we met along the way.

Transforming Higher Education in Africa
Convening in Botswana kicks off policy dialogue series
Tade Aina

Dozens of African university leaders, government officials and journalists attended our first policy dialogue on transforming the higher education sector in Africa. Held Sept. 30-31 at the University of Botswana, the event sparked debate on ways to help universities make a greater contribution to development. Researchers presented the findings from our commissioned scoping studies on higher education in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Participants then reflected on emerging trends, funding models, partnership opportunities, curricula, quality issues, policy gaps and intervention strategies. The convening marked the formal launch of our policy dialogue series on transforming higher education in Africa.

Presentation in Nairobi stimulates dialogue

Our higher education initiative made waves again in November, when the Carnegie Corporation convened partners in Nairobi for a meeting on developing and retaining the next generation of academic leaders in Africa. Participants said TrustAfrica's presentation on using policy advocacy as a strategy for building universities' sustainability helped illuminate the way forward.

Advocating for Smallholder Farmers
Agriculture initiative works to strengthen livelihoods and food security

We recently completed scoping studies on the role of smallholder farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. Our steering committee then approved grants to 10 farmers' associations, networks and coalitions to develop their advocacy skills, monitor government budgets and track public spending on agriculture, and conduct media campaigns to raise awareness of CAADP, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. Together with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Governance, we developed the curriculum for a four-day training workshop in February to build these groups' networking and advocacy skills.

Our Team is Growing
Meet our newest staff member
Sunday Khan

Sunday A. Khan joined us in August as a Program Specialist for our ICBE Research Fund. He comes to us from University of Yaoundé II, where he has been a senior lecturer in economics since 2003, and is also affiliated with the Centre for Research in Economics and Management. Dr. Khan holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Yaoundé and has consulted for the World Bank, North-South Institute, African Economic Research Consortium, NEPAD and ActionAid International. He was a visiting research scholar at the IMF in 2001 and a Helleiner Visiting Scholar at the NSI (Ottawa) in 2005. Dr. Khan has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and has published several book chapters and research papers. He speaks English, French and Pinyin.

With this issue we also bid farewell to Sidi Diawara, who led the first phase of our Liberia civil society initiative and recently left us for a new position focused on the upcoming elections in Senegal. Fortunately, we have a ready replacement in Kanio Bai Gbala, who has been working with Sidi on the Liberia initiative since February.

Our Web Presence is Growing
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Picasa and YouTube

Social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch with TrustAfrica — and to exchange ideas with others who share an interest in democracy and development in Africa. On Twitter and Facebook, we post short, timely reflections about issues of the day. On Picasa, we showcase photos of our events and the work of our grantees. On YouTube, we present interviews and videos about our work and the challenges facing Africa.

Support our work

Guidestar Exchange Seal
We extend a heartfelt thanks to all who responded to our last appeal for support. Your crucial contributions sustain our work and reduce our reliance on institutional donors.

Contributions to TrustAfrica, a 501(c)(3) organization that has earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, are tax deductible in the United States to the full extent allowable by law. Please consider making a donation today to qualify for a tax deduction this calendar year.


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On a closing note, I wish to commend our staff for performing so well, and achieving so much, in my absence. Special thanks are due to TrustAfrica's Program Director, Bhekinkosi Moyo, who stepped in as Acting Executive Director these last three months.

TrustAfrica is dedicated to securing the conditions for democratic governance and equitable development in Africa, and we can't do it without people like you. We hope you'll visit our website and blog often, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, read about our workshops and grant making, and join our $100 per year campaign.


Akwasi Aidoo
Executive Director, TrustAfrica

phone: +221.33.869.46.86
fax: +221.33.824.15.67