How ACT Foundation tackles Africa’s challenges
Five years, 80 beneficiaries, 811 communities, two million people:
The numbers are staggering but real. From health to entrepreneurship, leadership and the environment, the impact has been far-reaching, touching lives in all 36 states of the Nigerian federation and eight other countries in Africa. And it’s taken them only five years.
When The Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation took off in 2016, it leveraged relationships to create compelling social impact solutions across Africa by supporting initiatives capable of unleashing beneficiaries’ potential toward building sustainable African societies. And the Foundation has strategically gone about that business, focusing on the critical areas of health, entrepreneurship, environment, and leadership.
Through a combination of grant making, enterprise interventions, innovation challenges, support programmes, guided conversations and philanthropy, ACT Foundation has ramped up social impact in an accelerated fashion, leaving a long trail of social influence in its wake.
The Foundation recently unveiled 27 recipients of its 2022 Grant Scheme, which is in its 6th cycle. These recipients, a diverse group of national and international organisations drawn from multiple backgrounds, including health, environment, entrepreneurship, STEM, and leadership, joined many others who have received a substantial grant to further their exceptional work across the continent.
From breast cancer awareness to financial literacy training, agricultural solutions, engineering solutions, community development, recycling initiatives, and leadership and entrepreneurial development, grantees are at the forefront of tackling everyday challenges facing the African continent, which is consistent with the Foundation’s belief in developing homegrown solutions to the continent’s problems.
“We are excited to partner with them to create impact and provide innovative solutions across Africa. We strongly believe in collaboration as it is crucial to accelerating growth and sustaining impact locally, regionally, and globally,” said Osayi Alile, Chief Executive Officer at ACT Foundation.
To provide more impetus for realising its goals, the Foundation launched its Professional Volunteer Program (PVP) in 2019 to harness the skills and experience of relevant professionals in the various fields toward development initiatives on the continent. Willing participants volunteer their time to provide expert and quality support to development organisations within the Foundation’s network, and the results have been outstanding.
This year alone, the Foundation has worked with several non-profits to further its goals, including ANDE WA, Clintonel Innovation Centre, Adara Foundation, and The Bridge Foundation Leadership & Community Development Program. With the activities commemorating World Environment Day, the Foundation sensitised 50,000 people, trained 45,300 students, planted 3000 trees, and supported and developed 138 sustainable waste management enterprises.
Addressing the social challenges of the African continent requires innovative solutions that leverage existing technological tools and other resources for maximum impact. Thanks to the exemplary leadership of its CEO Osayi Alile, the Foundation has led from the front in this regard, harnessing available human and non-human resources on the continent to solve its problems.
Alile, who has served in various leadership capacities, including being a CSR Consultant at Access Bank Plc, the Executive Director at FATE Foundation and Vice President of the Junior Achievement of Nigeria, believes brands can achieve more by working with community-based non-governmental organisations to meet societal needs – an approach she has executed with excellent results.
Recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Alile believes non-profit organisations can succeed more by embracing a business-like approach and being systematic in their dealings.
To further its objectives on the continent, ACT Foundation recently launched a new podcast titled ACTPod. Focused on amplifying African stories, the podcast sheds light on the impact of the social sector on the continent. The show is also a platform to share opportunities, challenges, and strategies changemakers are adopting to transform communities across the continent.
“We wanted to build a community of listeners and provide learning opportunities for development enthusiasts by shifting perspectives through storytelling,” said Ndifreke Okwuegbunam, Director of Programs & Grants, who also doubles as host of the podcast series.
Already four episodes in, the podcast has discussed issues like misconceptions surrounding non-profits, the changemaker series and positioning for visibility featuring the Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi; Country Director of Enactus Nigeria, Michael Ajayi; and LinkedIn Visibility Coach and Thought Leadership Expert, Dr Glory Edozien respectively.
With the tagline Our Story, Our Continent, the podcast is currently published on Spotify, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, Samsung Podcasts, Podcast Index, Listen Notes, and the Foundation’s YouTube page.
Similarly, the Foundation has launched a monthly newsletter that covers its work with its grantees to foster and increase community impact and its contributions to the capacity development of sector practitioners enabled by new collaborations.
While ACT foundation celebrates its fifth anniversary, it is not slowing down on any of its activities. For example, it will host the 2022 edition of its breakfast dialogue, a gathering of industry thought leaders for intellectual conversations and solution-oriented engagement around sustainable systemic challenges in Africa.
Billed for September 28, the upcoming edition will explore the theme Shifting Paradigms: Transforming Our Approach to Addressing Africa’s Challenges.
“Our goal is to shift conventional thinking, share innovative ideas and encourage collaborative action from the public, private and social sectors towards accelerating Africa’s development,” a statement released by the foundation said.
“The 2022 Breakfast Dialogue will provide a platform for leaders, changemakers, and collaborators to reassess their model for building sustainable societies. This year’s event seeks to inspire leaders to rethink current norms and processes and strive to create better and timely solutions,” the statement continued.
The dialogue will address the challenges facing Africans and highlight the present opportunities. The first of the two panel sessions scheduled for the event will focus on the Systemic Approach to creating sustainable solutions in Africa by exploring strategies for creating systemic change across Africa’s ecosystem, while the other will focus on Africa’s disruptors: The Changing Landscape of Innovation to showcase innovators across the continent who are leading transformational change in various sectors.
Also, the Foundation will announce the winners of its current Changemakers Innovation Challenge at the event. Three winners will receive N12 Million Naira in funding, while all ten finalists will receive in-kind support and mentoring from ACT Foundation and its partners.
The challenge, open to non-profits and social enterprises across Africa using various technological and digital tools to create innovative social solutions, is targeted at scaling innovative solutions across different communities on the continent.
Adegoke, a writer and editor, wrote from Lagos.