Home-grown giving in Africa and Asia

Matt Reeves

Attracting local donors can pay big dividends – more than just financial ones – and it’s not just about wealthy donors, either

The Merti Integrated Development Programme is based in Isiolo, a town in northern Kenya on the road to the Ethiopian border. Since its founding in 2000, Merti has supported over 300 adolescent girls to complete their education. This has opened up new possibilities for marginalised girls whose opportunities have traditionally been very limited.

Girls from Isiolo sponsored to attend school through a local Yetu fundraising initiative.

Like many other organisations in Kenya, Merti was formed with support from foreigners who visited Kenya and identified a way in which they could help, in this case a group of pensioners from Eindhoven in the Netherlands. By 2017, however, many of these pensioners were in their 80s and 90s and were no longer able to bankroll the organisation. Through Yetu, an initiative jointly funded by USAID and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Merti turned its attention to local philanthropy for support, emphasising relevance and value to local stakeholders. Through these efforts, Merti raised $53,000 from local financial and in-kind donations. Moreover, the Isiolo county government pledged 10 per cent of its County Development Fund to the organisation on an annual basis.

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