What We Do

The African Visionary Fund provides an avenue for donors to move resources quickly to African visionaries without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops.

Building on our network of trusted partners across Africa, the Fund gives donors access to a well-vetted pipeline of locally-led organizations that have the potential to transform millions of lives.

And by giving them unrestricted, multi-year funding, the Fund allows African visionaries to focus on efficiently delivering on their mission and investing for the future. The Fund will also offer support services informed by grantee partners’ needs. These will include capacity investments, increasing partners’ visibility, brokering relationships with new funders and acting as an advocate to open doors for our partners. 

Our Model

Pipeline Development
  • Referrals through network of fellowships and advisors
  • Open and inclusive application system
  • Sector-agnostic portfolio broadly balanced across education, health and livelihoods
Donor Engagement
  • Helping partners secure funding beyond the Fund
  • Learning forums to bring partners & funders together
  • Information-hub for funders on African innovators
On-the-ground Support
  • Tailored mentoring and coaching
  • Contextually relevant capacity support
  • Deep understanding of partners’ work

Grantmaking Criteria

African visionaries often face the sharpest funding inequity during their transition towards growth and systems change. In partnership with our Founding Working Group, we have designed our grantmaking criteria to help us identify potential partners who are at the right growth stage for our funding and who have the foundations of organizational resilience to persevere. 

We are sector-agnostic and highly focused on accelerating impact. We therefore partner with grantees across sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of Health, Education, and Livelihoods with the goal of having a balanced and diverse portfolio of locally-led organizations across sectors.

1) Basic Eligibility:

We believe that the following criteria are a necessity to receive funding from the African Visionary Fund and as such, compelling applications must meet the following prerequisites.

  • African-led: The organization’s top leadership position or top co-leader is African. This person should report to the board and must have the decision-making power of an Executive Director/CEO.

  • Africa-based: The organization’s work is based in and serving communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Registered entity: The organization must be registered in their country of operation. However, we recognize that the specifics of an organization’s registration will look different in different countries and will accommodate on a case-by-case basis.

  • Active board: The organization has a strong board of directors who serve as strategic thought partners and active fiduciary stewards of the organization’s resources. We prioritize organizations who have advanced past the founding board stage and have basic governance systems and structures in place at the board level.

  • Paid staff: The organization pays its employees fairly for work done and that compensation provided is sufficient enough to meet their basic needs.

  • Two years of audits: The organization is in good financial health and has at least 2 years of audited financials.

  • Financial management: The organization employs sound financial management practices using clear processes for annual budgeting, use of basic accounting software, and regular financial reporting to the board and leadership team.

2) Funding early-stage and growth-stage organizations:

We seek to support organizations that are just past their early start-up phase and are seeking to accelerate their impact. These criteria help us assess which organizations have high potential for impact and need capital to get them to the next phase.

  • Budget Size: The organization has a minimum annual operating budget of $300,000, maximum of $2million. However, we readily make exceptions and take into consideration the full context of an organization’s budget, cost of impact, and stage of development.

  • Years of Operation: The organization has a minimum track record of 3 years. We believe this gives most organizations the chance to pivot and iterate on their hypotheses around their theory of change, impact model, product-market fit, etc.

  • Clear Model: The organization has a clearly defined model and knows what works. We know that clear models do not always mean models focused on one particular thing. Holistic models can be just as clear, intentional, and aligned to a theory of change as those with a singular focus.

  • Clear Why: The organizations’ leadership has a robust understanding and clarity surrounding why the organization exists and focused on the problem or problems their organization seeks to solve. We look for leaders and organizations who can articulate their approach with specificity and intentionality but not necessarily singularity.

  • Demonstrable Impact: The organization can communicate the impact of their work and has the ambition to increase their capacity to measure that impact, if needed. We want to provide funding to organizations already on a demonstrable growth path, as indicated by their impact and budget.

Nice to Haves:
  • Fellowship Experience: While not required, we strongly welcome organizations with leaders who have prior experience with high-impact fellowship, incubator or accelerator programs. We believe that organizations best suited for the Fund have already laid the foundations of a strong organization through participation in those organization-building programs.

3) Organizational Resilience:

We know that there are organizational assets that help impact endure and factors outside of funding that can impede an organization’s progress. We look for these factors of organizational resilience so that we can build upon an organization’s strengths.

Must Haves:
  • Systems Change Focus: The organization has a developed understanding of the structural inequities and broken systems that fuel many of the world’s most complex social problems. We look for organizations who can describe this understanding of the ecosystem they work within, and have a clear strategy to collaborate with key stakeholders to drive long-term systemic change.

  • Mission-Lived Leadership: The organization is led by visionaries with lived experience of the problem they seek to solve and have demonstrated a persistent commitment to the organization's mission.

  • Strategic Direction: The organization has a clear strategic vision for the future and has a plan in place that can be tweaked along the way.

  • Learning Orientation: The organization has strong and robust leadership teams that display high levels of self-awareness and humility. We believe that learning at the individual and organization level are critical to success.

  • Community-Driven: The organization is deeply rooted and invested in the communities they serve. We seek to support organizations that have meaningful involvement, input, and support from their communities (geographic or non-geographic communities).

Nice to Haves:
  • Strong Governance Systems: The organization follows a structured and robust operating model that ensures responsibilities are executed at all governance levels. We want to support organizations on their governance journey and seek to understand what structures, systems, and reporting mechanisms have been implemented at the board level thus far.

  • Deep Leadership Bench: The organization demonstrates evidence of strong commitment to leadership development and succession planning.

  • Commitment to Gender Equity: The organization is intentional about gender equity—even when the organization’s work is not explicitly focused on women and girls—and is committed to tackling gender imbalances and injustices within their systems and processes.