Our First $1M USD Commitment to Six African Visionaries!

Feb 3, 2021

In a world where less than 1% of international humanitarian funding goes directly to locally-led organizations and only 5.2% of US foundation giving to Africa goes to African-led organizations, one thing is clear: there is a need to create  more just and equitable pathways to get funding flowing to African founders. 

This is our why. The African Visionary Fund is a new pooled fund, seeded by a group of foundation partners including Imago Dei Fund, King Baudouin Foundation United States, Peery Foundation, Segal Family Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Tawingo Fund, Thankyou, and Umsizi Fund, and designed to drive millions of dollars in unrestricted funding to African-led organizations. We are committing $1 million USD in multi-year general operating support grants to six outstanding organizations across Africa within less than a year of setting up shop. These inaugural members of our portfolio work across a variety of key sectors including education, health, human rights, and livelihoods, and represent five Sub-Saharan countries. 

Our six new African Visionary Partners are: Barefoot Law, Dandelion Africa, Rays of Hope, SaCoDé, Shule Direct and Wezesha Impact.

For this first grant round, we leaned into our core value of solidarity. In 2020 African-led organizations were under immense pressure to serve communities struggling with lockdowns, economic slowdowns, and COVID outbreaks. While they continued to show the resilience and power of proximity, funding opportunities and access to new funder relationships became scarce. We knew we had to move quickly to get funding flowing to organizations that could deliver impact now. 

Local solutions are better informed, more innovative, and more sustainable because they leverage and optimize the best of local assets.

- Misan Rewane, AVFund Advisory Board Member

So we reached out to our networks of referral partners across the continent to build on existing relationships and due diligence. We worked with our Founding Working Group to design grantmaking criteria and a due diligence process that centered the experience of African visionaries. We received over 70 referrals, researched 30 organizations’ alignment to our criteria, and vetted 10 semi-finalists. From virtual site visits to long deliberations with our Advisory Board we narrowed our selection to 6 organizations that we believe embody our values, align to our criteria, and are delivering deep, systemic, community-rooted change.

We are thrilled to welcome our new partners!

Barefoot Law

BarefootLaw is all about tech-enabled legal support. They envision a world where access to legal support is freely and readily available to everyone that needs it. Globally, 5.1 billion people face injustice or have an unmet legal need — needs that often directly impact the livelihoods of those most marginalized. BarefootLaw’s mission is to make legal services readily available to 50 million Africans by 2030, particularly those farthest from available services.

Dandelion Africa

Dandelion Africa is a grassroots innovator on a mission to improve the health and economic well being of youth and women living in marginalized and rural communities in Kenya. Founded on a model of community ownership, they take an innovative approach to community outreach that includes representative community governance across all demographics.

Rays of Hope

Rays of Hope is an organization that seeks to improve learning outcomes of disadvantaged children by providing educational support and empowering teachers with hands-on technical skills. They improve learning outcomes in primary schools by equipping teachers with innovative pedagogical methods to create content-rich & creative lessons.


SaCoDé is an organization dedicated to unlocking opportunities for women and youth in Burundi. Their organization is focused on providing reproductive health products and services alongside economic empowerment programs that help women and youth enjoy healthy and financially independent lives.

Shule Direct

Shule Direct provides versatile learning opportunities through accessible technologies. Their team has created the first locally-based e-learning platform in Tanzania based on the national curriculum by the Ministry of Education. Currently, Shule Direct distributes its high quality digital education content to learners via an online portal, mobile applications, an SMS-based mobile application (Makini SMS), and an offline learning management system (LMS) that offers user-friendly dashboards for students and teachers.

Wezesha Impact

Wezesha Impact is on a mission to get young people into meaningful and productive employment. Their model blends a combination of entrepreneurship and workplace readiness experiences combined with long term mentorship and coaching. Their unique model also enables them to strategically partner with at least 65 vocational schools, further broadening their impact and reach.

What Lies Ahead

What we learned from this first grant offering round is that finding and funding African visionaries who are delivering deep, systemic, community-rooted change is not a pipeline problem. Our first grant commitment is just the beginning as we pursue our mission of driving more resources to African visionaries.

We are raising $10M USD by 2023 to accelerate African visionaries’ impact and will continue expanding our portfolio later this year. As we grow, we will launch an open and inclusive application process to lower barriers to entry, continue relying on our majority African and majority doer governance bodies to iterate on our model, and invest in a shared leadership model that furthers our commitment to our values. Innovative, tenacious and optimistic African leaders are meeting the hopes and aspirations of their communities every day. Join us as we meet that with the recognition and investment that they deserve.

Those directly affected by a problem are often the best authors of lasting solutions to their own problems. They fight until the end - that is why local solutions matter.

- Evelyn Omala, AVFund Advisory Board Member


Help us get more funding to African visionaries and unlock transformational change.

Work with us

We are now hiring for a Strategic Partnerships Associate. This is a remote, US-based, full-time position. Click to learn more!