By Africa for Africa

Africa is changing. There are signs of new energies, interests, actors and wealth. Yet underdevelopment, inequality and exclusion persist.

Old practices, relationships and frameworks of social investment can no longer contain these contradictions. We must imagine new ways of doing things in a changed context and we must prove they can be done if we want to remain relevant and effective as doers of growth and development.

The Drivers of Change awards, in partnership with the Mail & Guardian‘s Investing in the Future awards, recognise and honour those who are doing just that. The game changers in social investment, philanthropy and development are the rightful recipients of these awards.

Given in four categories — civil society, business, government and individual — the awards seek out those who are doing things differently and with greater success. They especially look for evidence of partnerships among different types of groups that work for a common purpose; work that changes the systems that keep people in poverty, over and above simply helping those in need; and work that has relevance across countries of the Southern African region.

The prestigious awards will this year be given during the biennial assembly of the African Grantmakers’ Network. For the first time, the network will also identify and honour a deserving recipient of the inaugural African Philanthropy award.

The emergence of the network demonstrates a growing interest in social investment by African actors from sectors across the continent. It is a platform for the promotion of an African voice and agenda for philanthropy in the changing global context. Its vision is to grow a transformed, relevant, vibrant and sustainable African community of philanthropy and social investment.

The network finds a natural partner in the Drivers of Change awards. The biennial assembly, to be held in Johannesburg at the time of the Drivers of Change awards, will scan the terrain of philanthropy to identify trends, showcase emerging practices and innovations and craft a shared agenda to build social investment and philanthropy in a new context.

It will convene grantmakers and social investors with delegates from the social, private and public sectors for a unique engagement across a broad spectrum of social issues and actors.

The assembly will highlight the local genius and potential of African philanthropy. It will focus on the rich array of assets — human, material and financial — that can be marshalled to build African agency to solve Africa’s problems. Delegates will be encouraged to transcend their silos and develop the kinds of collaboration required to achieve lasting results.

Throughout the assembly, issues such as poverty, inequality and social exclusion will be examined to frame a practice of philanthropy that can rise to the challenge of creating systemic change for social justice in Africa.

The assembly will take a fresh approach to dialogue that is inclusive, innovative and interactive. It will use creative ways to facilitate discussion and document its progress.

The assembly offers the possibility of a re-energised African community of philanthropic and social investment practice and a shared commitment to action. If this reflects your interest, nominate those who can inspire others by being recognised as drivers of change through the awards.

Neville Gabriel is the executive director of the Southern Africa Trust and a member of the panel of judges for the awards

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