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Getting to Impactful Aid and Philanthropy | Mainstage

Lord Dr. Michael Hastings CBE, Chancellor, Regent’s University London; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Shameel Joosub, Chief Executive Officer, Vodacom Group
Degan Ali, Executive Director, Adeso


Lord Michael Hastings, Chancellor of Regent’s University London, framed the session as an examination of the nature of philanthropy and aid for Africa, citing the release of a report at this year’s UN General Assembly, Barriers To African Civil Society: Building The Sector’s Capacity And Potential To Scale Up, published by Vodafone, Vodacom, and Safaricom. 

Degan Ali, who has spent decades as a Somali living in Kenya fighting for human rights, gave a short pre-recorded video in which she shared ideas to make structural and mindset shifts to decolonize development and aid. Aid and development assistance, she explained, is not intended or designed for real poverty alleviation; instead, we must look to global governments and financial institutions. She outlined a number of recommendations to ensure that aid and development assistance are no longer needed, including transforming global governance and providing unconditional debt relief to institutions. 

Looking at Africa in general, Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, highlighted the importance of civil society organization (CSO) funding being sustainable, of ensuring effective leadership of NGOs, and of establishing process, governance, and training. He also cited the role of technology in helping with governance and improving the efficiency of NGOs, as well as the role of local partnerships. When asked about the role of the private sector in helping aid givers trust the receivers, Joosub cited the importance of sustainable, long-term funding and of funding an organization’s systems, leadership, and processes. Explaining Vodacom’s Change the World program, Joosub spoke to the importance of providing training, notably IT training, to non-profit organizations, as well as looking at how technology can help improve systems which, in turn, can help attract more funding. 

Lord Hastings asked whether the time has come for Africa’s own millionaires, billionaires, and foundation leaders to take over the role of supporting NGOs and CSOs from western agencies. Joosub shared his belief that it is incumbent upon companies and these individuals to give back to society and do as much as they can to assist, but that the need is large across rural Africa. Partnering can address this wider problem, Joosub explained, citing the m-mama partnership between Vodacom and Vodafone, which connects pregnant women with emergency care in rural regions of Africa. The more other organizations can be encouraged to do the same, the greater the benefit to societies. 

Companies [like Vodacom] plant skilled IT people into charities and they help to drive the reform…That’s a significant commitment and gift of time, but also money.

Lord Michael Hastings

Partnering with local players in the market is key…It’s almost an ecosystem you need to create in order to ensure success.

Shameel Joosub

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • We need donors to be willing to change their expectations in terms of how they allocate resources. 
  • Sustainable, long-term financing is key, as is building up capacity, technology input, and trust in those on the frontlines to deliver the work.