Philanthropist Tsitsi Masiyiwa wants to create more pathways for women funders who have historically been limited by traditional gender roles.
‘We have women funders, but there are very few’, Masiyiwa said to DevEx. Masiyiwa is the lead organiser of the Africa Gender Initiative, which launched last year to unite African philanthropists behind the common goal of advancing gender equity across the continent. The initiative seeks to raise $50 million in 10 years.
‘A lot of women who are high net worth individuals themselves or as families, you find that still the male predominantly makes the final decision on how financial resources are allocated and how the investments are made’, Masiyiwa said.
Masiyiwa has been a champion for education and healthcare initiatives in Africa through her work with the Higherlife Foundation. She was named All Africa Business’ ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ in 2022 and recently stepped down as the pioneer Board Chair of the African Philanthropy Forum.
Advocates for more inclusive philanthropy have cited the low rate of funding for organizations led or focused on women and girls as reason to increase fundraising efforts. Women-led organizations receive just 1-3 per cent of global financing for climate adaptation work, according to UN Women. That pattern holds even in higher-income countries. Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that less than two per cent of all charitable giving in the U.S. went to women’s and girl’s organizations in 2019, the most recent year for which the it had data.
Masiyiwa said she also sees herself playing a ‘catalytic role’ by representing African women in philanthropy when many may still feel more comfortable ‘in the background’.
‘We have to be so strategic… You need some of the warriors up front and taking charge, and then you also need those in the background who give quietly and who may not want anyone to know but who feel that they are doing a lot by combining their resources with others.’