BPM Africa Webinar

Transforming the African Narrative through Philanthropy

August 23, 2023 | Time: 4pm WAT

Objective: Deliberate on how to strategically and positively frame the narrative on Africa for Diasporan investments and other forms of philanthropy and social investing.

  • Almaz Negash, Founder and Executive Director, African Diaspora Network
  • Thelma Ekiyor, Chairperson Afrigrants/Co-Founder, SME.NG


  • Ms Adoara Ikenze, Director, Public Policy (Anglophone West Africa) at Meta
  • Dr. Camaren Peter, the Executive Director of CABC in South Africa
  • Kady Sylla, Senior Advisor – Africa, KBFUS
Poverty, conflict, high youth unemployment, and governance issues are realities in Africa that sometimes make it difficult to see what else is happening, such as the increase in innovative start-ups, growth in fintech infrastructure, alternative energy solutions and healthcare advancements. Africans in the Diaspora are often also focused on the negatives rather than the opportunities these challenges present for investment.
Changing the narratives on Africa is a collaborative effort that should be intentional and strategic. Philanthropy can play an important to catalyze solutions. The 2023 Black Philanthropy Month (BPM) event organized in collaboration with Africa Diaspora Network and Afrigrants Foundation has convened a panel of experts for a conversation on this important theme.

In recent years, Africa has seen tremendous increases in private funding, resulting in rapid growth for technological advancement, educational resources, and economic growth. However, more philanthropic work is needed from an international and domestic perspective in order to ensure the continued development in Africa and for the continent’s potential to be met.

It is no surprise that political struggles and violence pose major difficulties to smooth philanthropic action. With a wide variety of humanitarian concerns still at the forefront of attention, it is necessary to address these issues at a direct community level with sustainable financial plans to meet the goals of proposed solutions.
Philanthropy towards the continent has resulted in a growing middle class, providing an increase in the pool of actual and potential philanthropists. This is an important factor as it supports a model that encourages philanthropy from within, allowing for a more direct and inclusive approach to development in the continent. An important aspect of philanthropy is that it supports betterment in all aspects of life and society in Africa, addressing issues ranging from food security, to gender equality, and tech.

Here are a few questions that we aim to address as we explore the topic:

  • In your work, how do you contribute to changing the negative narratives on Africa?
  • How can philanthropy and other forms of social investing invest in transforming “Brand Africa?”
  • What are the key impediments to a positive global narrative on the African continent
  • The Diaspora are an important constituency in changing the narrative, what tangible ways can they contribute?
  • How has the narrative of philanthropy in Africa changed over time?
  • What role do philanthropists play in shaping the narrative of Africa?
  • What changes are needed so philanthropy in Africa can operate within political instability and narrow the disparity gap?
  • What are some best practices to keep Africans at the forefront of philanthropic giving?

Almaz Negash

Founder and Executive Director, African Diaspora Network (Moderator)

Almaz Negash is a recognized thought leader and sought-after expert on entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment for international markets, especially high growth African and Diaspora. Leveraging 25 plus years of experience in international trade, business management, and social innovation, Negash is able to build successful partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, including Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, investors and entrepreneurs based in the USA and around the world. As a result, she is named as one of the 100 outstanding Silicon Valley Women of Influence for her work in social innovation. In 2010, Almaz founded African Diaspora Network (ADN) to inform and engage Africans in the diaspora and facilitate direct collaboration with social entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders to invest and improve the lives of everyone on the continent.
Thelma Ekiyor

Thelma Ekiyor

Chairperson Afrigrants/co-Founder, SME.NG (Moderator)

Ms. Ekiyor is the co-Founder and former Managing Partner of SME.NG – Nigeria’s Impact Investment Platform, which has set up two impact funds for women entrepreneurs. She is the Co-Founder/Chairperson of Afrigrants, a social enterprise, and served as its pioneering CEO. At Afrigrants, she led the establishment of “Market Women’s Quick Cash” – a financial inclusion solution to provide micro-loans to women in disadvantaged communities, impacting 3000 women in northern and southern states in Nigeria. She also led the conceptualization of “The Ebi Fund” – an impact fund. Ms. Ekiyor is the Founder & Co-Convener of The Funding Space – a mentoring and access to finance platform for social entrepreneurs in Africa, established in 2017.

Adaora Ikenze

Director of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa at Meta Platforms Inc.

Adaora Ikenze is the Director of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa at Meta Platforms Inc. She has worked across Africa, Europe, and the U.S. as a lawyer, development expert, political adviser, and not-for-profit funder. Prior to joining Meta, she held senior positions with the Global Fund for Women in San Francisco, the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa in Nigeria. As the founder and principal of AfricaPhilanthropy Advisory Services, Ms. Ikenze provided guidance and advisory services to national and international agencies such as the Ministry of Petroleum Resources (Nigeria), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), UNIFEM and the World Bank.
Camaren Peter

Camaren Peter (PhD)

Associate Professor, Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership Graduate School of Business.

Camaren Peter (PhD) is an Associate Professor with the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership at the Graduate School of Business. He holds a cum laude BSc (Hons) degree in theoretical physics, an MSc in astrophysics and a PhD in Business Administration. He is also the Executive Head and Director of the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change. His academic research and practice leverages complexity theory to tackle the grand challenges of the 21st Century. These range from political, technological and socio-cultural transitions and their implications, to powerful global change phenomena such as the fourth industrial revolution, urbanization, resource scarcity, ecosystems degradation and climate change.
Kady Sylla

Kady Sylla

Senior Advisor - Africa, King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS)

Kady Sylla is Senior Advisor – Africa at the King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS). Kady oversees our Africa partnerships, network-building and programs. Before joining KBFUS, Kady managed grantee relationships, partnerships, strategy development and communications at the Issroff Family Foundation (IFF). At IFF, Kady designed and implemented leadership and organizational capacity strengthening programs, including IFF’s signature “Collaborative Learning Initiative,” and also managed the Tristate Africa Funders Network, a peer learning vehicle. Before IFF, she gained experience managing international development and philanthropic grants, working with public and private institutions like USAID, Open Society Foundations (OSF), and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).