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5 Nov

Giving back, an african tradition

Contrary to the Western economic trends, Africa knows a genuine growth rebound at an average rate of 5% and bright economic perspectives for the years to come. If the primary industry remains one of the main resources of the continent, the diversification of the social strata and the birth of an endogenous growth influence henceforth the growth curves.

In a context of social economic changes, it seems that the development models relying on external aid or on exporting raw materials is no longer really adapted to the Africa being built. Philanthropy or Africapitalism do not hesitate in applying an economic development model. Short overview of these 2 evolving currents. 


From tradition to catalysis

The traditional philanthropy, well known by institutional and private donors, is founded on the premise of financial contribution to a precise cause.

Getting rid of its inhibitions, philanthropy is becoming a more and more important element in the world economy.

Indeed, in matters where the public authorities disengage, the wealthy become more active in terms of donations.

Thus, we understand that the ideal profile of a philanthropist of the 2000’s is the one that supports in cash or in kind in a committed manner; in this case we can talk about catalytic philanthropy. Catalytic? Yes, this philanthropy branch gets its inspiration from the mechanics of an internal combustion engine.


Catalytic Philanthropy, a mechanics in vogue

Created in the 90s by the American Mark Kramer, professor at Harvard University, this branch is seeking to transform philanthropic actions in a strategic long term gesture. Thus, the aim of “philanthropic catalyses” is to encourage the emergence of companies in order to create the wealth able to resolve the community problems. In this context, the catalytic philanthropy seems to correspond to the current social economic needs of the African continent.


The African philanthropy

Often wrongfully criticized, certain people try to counter the stereotypical labels thanks to sizeable arguments.

Indeed, African leaders of the business world assume the role of conductors in order to boost the African businessmen having a high economic expansion potential on the continent.

More than a matter of big money but rather of shared ideals, the leitmotiv of these leaders and businessmen is to create together durable wealth all while respecting the standard codes of ethics and cultural values such as mutual aid and cooperation. 

For that matter, the word UBUNTU that means in the Bantu language “humanity toward others” wonderfully summarizes the founding principles of African philanthropy often presented under 2 forms :

  • Horizontal/ informal: organizations, community and family support.

  • Vertical/formal: institutional support inspired of a foreign model.

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UBS Africa’s Wealthy Give Back report

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UBS Africa’s Wealthy Give Back report



The donors

The pan-African Foundation TrustAfrica* and UBS bank launched a pioneering report titled Africa’s Wealthy Give Back. This report reveals the African wealth holders approach of philanthropy.

The donations are mostly monetary or immaterial such as shared competences or experience. 

The donations are mainly transferred to the healthcare and education sectors.


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UBS Africa’s Wealthy Give Back report



The Diaspora plays an important part in the African philanthropy but its engagement is still to be explored.UBS Africa’s Wealthy Give Back report


The Africapitalism, an economic development model

The Africapitalism, defending the African capitalism, encourages the long-term investments on the continent in order to create real business opportunities.

The Africapitalism aspires to make of Africa an important autonomous player on the world scene of investments and innovation.


The success story made in Africapitalism

Founded 65 years ago and based in Lagos, the United Bank of Africa UBA is a local Nigerian bank.

When in 1948, the Franco-British bank BFB (British and French Bank Limited) wants to set up shop in Nigeria, the local bank becomes a commercial division of BFB.

In 2005, Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian banker and businessman, who is none other than the iconic figure of Africapitalism, joins the institution.

Already, known in the high circles of finance for his remarkable actions, the brilliant banker is confronted to an audacious challenge: transforming the local bank in the first African bank group.

In just a few years Mr. Emelulu succeeded with a master’s stroke the task undertaken. With 750 branches in 19 African countries, the creation of 15 000 jobs and more than 7 million clients, the UBA is one of the most important African financial institutions.

The mission is clear: being a role model for African businesses by creating superior value for all their stakeholders, abiding by the utmost professional and ethical standards, and by building an enduring institution.

Also present in New York, London and Paris, the Nigerian bank group was awarded for the second time in 2014 the prize of “Bank of the Year in Africa” by the British magazine The Banker owned by The Financial Times.

Listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) since 1970, the UBA has other expansion ambitions: becoming leader of financial services in Africa.


A new informed generation

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Akon and Thione Niang grew up in Senegal, in Kaolack, a town without access to electricity. Both of them, co-founders of Akon Lighting Africa together with Samba Bathily, draw their commitment from the memories of their childhood when they personally experienced the difficulties of “a life without light”.

In 2013, together in Washington DC, they think of the best  way to bring their contribution to the change of Africa in concrete terms. They agree on one priority: investing in the energy sector, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, because energy is needed before everything else: education, healthcare and economic development.

An obvious symbiosis gets created by sharing international competences, experiences and expertise; Samba, for example, is a recognized businessman specialized in solar energy. The three of them speed up the fulfillment of the project which is born in February 2014. A brilliant idea for the future generation of the African continent.

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Akon Ligthing Africa

Since that moment, the three founders put all their efforts into this project without holding back in order to create win-win partnerships with the African States and to continue the expansion and the impact of their initiative. Already present in 11 countries, Akon Lighting Africa aims at expanding on the entire continent in order to widen the access to electricity in rural and semi-urban areas.


My opinion is the amount of a donation is one thing; its effect is a completely different one. The impact of donations is much more interesting.


*TrustAfrica seeks to reinforce the African initiatives aiming at finding a solution for the most complex challenges to which the continent is confronted. Based in Dakar, TrustAfrica essentially works through collaboration and partnership agreements with institutions and donors sharing the same views and ideals. Loyal to its vocation of catalyzing and facilitating encounters, TrustAfrica aims at being an institution that generates and experiments new ideas. It also struggles to practice good governance and to promote it amongst the beneficiaries of its subsidies.


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