Adeso to grow US$5 million grants into US$50 million project

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  • Degan Ali, has been advocating for a movement dubbed “decolonizing aid”, which seeks to decenter the voices of Western decision-makers and shift more power to nonwhite and local leaders in the global south.
  • Ali said they were going to try and turn the US$5 million Scott grant and other funds they get in the next few years and grow Adeso into a US$30 million to US$50 million endowment in the next ten years
  • Adeso is also planning to launch a new online platform, a website called Kuja Link, that will allow organizations worldwide to create connections with philanthropists

For the last decade, donors and funders worldwide have capitalized on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits to issue humanitarian aid in Africa at the grassroots level.

One such donor is billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Scott issues a US$5 million grant to Adeso

MacKenzie issued a US$5 million grant to Adeso, an African nonprofit humanitarian and development organization based in Kenya, intending to spin the grant into an endowment to extend its length of service and cement its future.

Adeso is celebrating its 31st anniversary this year and aims to attract more donors to provide more funding and resources to local organizations in the global south.

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Adeso’s executive director, Degan Ali, has been advocating for a movement dubbed decolonizing aid, which seeks to decenter the voices of Western decision-makers and shift more power to nonwhite and local leaders in the global south.

Adeso expects to turn a US$5 million grant into an over US$30 million- US$50 million project. [Photo/Adeso Africa]
Adeso believes in a different formula, where development must come from within and not outside African communities. Africans themselves must determine their future, and while international aid has provided the crucial support, their much-needed help often falls short of enabling lasting change at the grassroots level. Adeso wants to change this, and their strong bonds with African communities mean they are uniquely placed.

Their mission is to work at the roots of communities to create environments in which Africans can thrive. It also works alongside communities to co-create a new story for Africa shaped by their values, powered by their resources, and built on their capabilities.

With funding from Scott and other donors, Degan Ali is now poised to help other grassroots organizations access the resources they need to sustain the work they are doing on behalf of their communities.

Ali said they were going to try and turn the Scott grant and other funds they get in the next few years and grow Adeso into a US$30 million to US$50 million endowment in the next ten years.

She added that foundations should be thinking about doing “transformative” things for their partners to liberate them from being, as she puts its, “professional beggars”.

Foundations have “people managing their wealth and their endowment that they’re paying every day. Why are they not giving those resources to their partners?” Ali said. “Why don’t they say, ‘I’m not going to give you a grant of $1 million; I’m going to invest your $1 million, and hopefully, it will grow over the next five years to become $10 million or $15 million or $5 million?”

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The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit advisory firm that has worked with donors like Bill & Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Scott, has also advocated for philanthropists to endow minority-led and locally-led organizations to help ensure their endurance and growth.

Adeso to launch Kuja Link website

Adeso is also planning to launch a new online platform, a website called Kuja Link, that will allow organizations worldwide to create connections with philanthropists and share information about themselves that may help them draw more attention and more funding to their work.

The website will allow nonprofits to create profiles with information about the thematic areas in which they work, such as those related to refugees, human rights, or women’s issues. The nonprofits will also be able to provide details about where they operate, their existing funders, their board members, and whether they are registered in the countries in which they’re based, among other details.

A primary goal of the Kuja Link initiative is to help donors identify more groups working on the ground that aren’t major international, she added.

Scott MacKenzie has issued a US$5 million grant to Adeso. [Photo/Adeso Africa]
Kuja Link is set to have a test launch set June and fully operationalize by early 2023. 

The confirmed funders behind its development include:

In addition, Degan Ali said that Adeso aims to provide more resources to nonprofits through the establishment of a private company that will provide “back-end” services such as managing finances for specific projects and preparing for annual audits, as many small nonprofits don’t have enough staffers for those types of tasks.

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I am a journalist who is an enthusiastic tech, business and investment news writer from across Africa. There is always something good happening in Africa but most gets lost in the stereotypes. I tell the stories that matter to the Africans for Africa. Have a tip? You can contact me at j.kangethe@theexchange.africa

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