Article by Adepeju Jaiyeoba
Over the years, I have met and interacted with a number of individuals who have huge interest in Africa.
Today, I am curating a list of five things I wish foreign funders and investors know and understand before investing in Africa.
1. Corruption has no color– I know you have heard a lot about Africans and how they steal from their people and everyone else but listen, not all Africans are corrupt. As a matter of fact, corruption has no color.
I have met white people asking for a cut from project funds as well as some other ones using Africa to raise funds and remitting just a small fraction of funds raised to community workers.
A good number of us are hardworking, pursuing excellence, maintaining high integrity, focused on mining ideas from the heart, implementing from the heart and passionate about creating real changes for our communities and people.
Please don’t be so hasty to generalize us based on stereotypes. Give us a chance to prove ourselves!
2. Grassroots organizations are, many times, the partners you need– I understand the penchant for many international organizations to look for similar big names on the continent but many times, grassroots organizations who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, who are passionate about the community and committed to making Change happen, are the people you need.
You probably don’t know this but many of the big organizations you fund, sub contract the work to smaller grassroots organisation making change happen.
3. Validate your assumptions about us- For years we’ve seen a surge of innovation in Africa as well as an increase in failed innovations too.
Take for instance the merry-go-round playpump innovation to solve the challenge of access to water. Look at the funds wasted on a project that looked good on paper but was an absolute failure in practice. (We will probably do some analysis of failed innovations soon so we all can learn from it).
The lessons from that experience was very clear. Step out and validate your assumptions of us.
4. Cheap things does not mean it’s the best for us if it doesn’t meet our needs:
I know of a donor who is crazy about distributing oral contraceptive pills, not because there’s high demand for it or because it is the most preferred by women. His simple reason is that it comes cheap.
Now oral contraceptives has a very strict regime and has to be used daily. A regime many women find inconveniencing. The result is hundreds of cartons of oral contraceptives are locked up in storage facilities.
Cheap does not mean need.
5. We will pick sustainable development over aids- We deeply appreciate your interest in Africa and your support for our work but this last point is to make you know that Africa is open for business too and not just aids.
We want to build sustainable businesses and organizations that will remain even after donor funds are exhausted or withdrawn.
As much as you can, help us achieve this.
Did I miss out anything? Feel free to add yours.
Have a great week everyone!