African Visionary Fund: playing the game to change the game

The African Visionary Fund – a pooled funder with support from King Baudouin Foundation’s U.S. arm, Segal Family Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Tawingo Fund – launched in early 2020, almost simultaneously with the start of the pandemic. At a time when foundations and philanthropists were surveying the crisis ahead and earmarking emergency grants for everything from face masks to food banks, the African Visionary Fund was calmly proceeding with its founding mission: helping big, international funders overcome the barriers to donating to African-led organisations.

Just over a year on, it has disbursed $1 million to six nonprofits and established a model of co-leadership that brings together the on-the-ground experience of Atti Worku, founder of the Ethiopian nonprofit Seeds of Africa, and Katie Bunten-Wamaru, former Director of Strategy at the Segal Foundation. Though they’ve already accomplished a lot, Worku and Bunten-Wamaru stressed that their real potential lies ahead – they hope to see the African Visionary Fund disburse $10 million to 35 African-led organisations and also fundraise for another Fund that will look beyond nonprofits.

I caught up with them in late May – Bunten-Wamaru logging onto our call from Boston and Worku joining from Addis Ababa – to chat about the methodology of the Fund, why a model of Co-Leadership works, and what they hope international aid can learn from their project.

Image credit: African Visionary Fund partner BarefootLaw

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