Afrilanthropy One Year On, our Retrospective on 2018
As Afrilanthropy celebrates its first year since its legal establishment in Luxembourg, it is time to share progress and challenges of our young venture.
2018 we witnessed a rapid expansion of our reach and services. We reached 12 countries, each with an active resident or semi-resident advisor and identified over 30 social enterprises across the continent.
We developed new collaborations and partnerships, such as that with the United Nations Industrial Development Organizations (UNIDO), which enabled us to present our venture at major fora and source ventures from their portfolio of assisted companies. We also began a partnership with Global Giving, a leading crowdfunding platform, through which we were able to raise over 7000 USD for our most promising social enterprise in Mozambique, exceeding their initial target. We expanded our connections across Europe, our main target market for investors and in Luxembourg in particular, thanks to our collaboration with Tiime, a leading impact advisory.
In 2018 we also received our first mandates from two impact funds, who asked us to identify and refer social enterprises in their respective areas of focus. The result was impressive. In just a few weeks, we put together an impressive pipeline of ventures ranging from renewable energy to fintech, from agribusiness to education, hence solidifying our product.
We have increasingly recognized as a “voice” of African social innovation and impact investing, invited to and spoke at various gatherings and convenings, such as the UN Convention on Status of Women in New York, the European Development Days organized by the European Commission, as well as other impact investing conferences in Dakar, Kigali, Paris, Barcelona, and Helsinki.
We also carried some high profile advisory work, such as a mapping of the European philanthropic landscape for the European Investment Bank, an assignment we carried out in collaboration with Leonardo Business Consulting , an leading Africa focused consulting company
We received great feedback from our community of followers, who grew rapidly to hit 500 followers on our facebook page and gave us great reviews, enabling us to become a top a 2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit from a leading portal allowing crowd rating NGOs across the world.
At the end of the year, in view of great demand from our community to contribute more actively we launched an ambassador program, which has created new ways for people to support our venture and where happy to have our first ambassadors joining our team.
Over the year many people cross our path and gave us a major source of inspiration, first and foremost Dr. Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his great work in DRC, whom we met in Rome and Dennis Whittle, founder of World Bank Development Marketplace, Global Giving and more recently Feedback Lab, who has served as a great mentor. Countless are those who have supported us with advise and suggestion, and pro-bono help.
We were also confronted with major challenges. As an entirely self-financed organizations relying initially on membership fees and pro-bono help of its members, we struggled to get the organization up and running, but we were energized by the first private donations we have received and by the result of our first pilot crowdfunding campaign. We also learned the hard way how impact investors decision can often very slow to materialize, hence generating high degree of frustrations for our ventures and ourselves. Although investors recognize the need for matchmaking services like ours, it is hard for them to move away from existing ways of doing business, even if they recognize they may not be the most efficient ones. We will continue pushing for change.
We look forward to a 2019, when we expect to consolidate our product, and expand our network of investors and ventures on the ground. We are developing and expecting to launch Afrigateway, a first Africa focused multi-lingual portal providing free access to information on funding and training opportunities in one please. Afrigateway builds on the work our small team has been carrying out through our social media. To this effect, we will be seeking small and big donors who want to join us in this project and make a difference making funding opportunities more accessible to wide community of African innovators.