I had the opportunity of meeting various dignitaries at the meeting where various ideas about philanthropy was shared. We were welcomed by one of the executives of the Ecobank Group where the meeting was held. Madam Mosun Layode, executive director of the APF gave a brief description about the APF, that is, when the APF got started and how it has networked various philanthropists to work together for the same cause. She also encouraged the participants to join the APF as members so as to benefit from the wide array of network of philanthropy. She also said to understand what philanthropists and encourage them to continue to do what they do. The APF is affiliated to the Global Philanthropy Forum but became an independent entity which was launched in 2014.
A board member of the APF, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode then came in to elaborate more on the essence of giving. He spoke of the fact that we as Africans like to give only we don’t do it structurally. We were educated on practicing structured giving, knowing the areas of giving such as the educational, health sectors and collective giving.
Former president of Ghana, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor also graced the occasion. He had an open conversation with former minister of communications during his regime, Madam Elizabeth Ohene, where he spoke about himself, how he became president and the policies he put in place whiles in government. Policies such as the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) enabled pupils to go to school for free and how Ghana became a middle income country during his time. When it came to philanthropy, he said to empower businesses to grow so as to enable them to give structurally. Businesses that feel the need to give out to people were told to give donations to philanthropic institutions to support the recipients, instead of giving them to the recipients directly. Also, he advised to look at the needs of recipients of philanthropy critically before giving donations to them. This will prevent the misuse of resources in philanthropy and misplaced priorities and needs of the recipients. He further added that philanthropists should seek collaborative ways of working with government in order to support recipients in sectors like health, education and areas where peace is needed. Government should also allow philanthropists to go directly to the places where help is needed and avoid bureaucracy. Cultural norms did not have to be affected when it came to philanthropy and philanthropy works best when there is good governance with no discrimination in race, religion and other factors.
There was a question and answer session with the ex-president after his input. He set up the J.A. Kufuor Foundation to recruit and train the youth in leadership, governance and development. The foundation currently has 45 students in recruitment who are sent to remote areas in Ghana to better understand the needs of the people and help them well. He said this when asked a question about his foundation, among other questions.
A panel of five speakers then came up next to elaborate more on philanthropy and answer questions. They included Patrick G. Awuah, Founder of Ashesi University: Yvonne Botchey, CEO UMB Foundation; Julie Essiam, former CEO of Ecobank Foundation and founder of Africa4Africans; Robert Kuzoe, executive secretary of MTN Foundation and Rosa Whitaker, Founder and CEO, The Whitaker Group
They spoke about various issues with regards philanthropy. The areas that do development according to one panelist were the family, the public sector, the private sector and the social sector and philanthropy. Another spoke of the fact that progress cannot be achieved without social development. Social capital is needed to fill the gaps within philanthropy. Availability of financial resources is needed for philanthropy to be best practiced.
How philanthropists work was also discussed. It was said there was the need to have a public-private partnerships with philanthropists to continue supporting recipients. The general public was also missing within the structure of philanthropy and they have to be brought on board and educated more on philanthropy. Philanthropists were also advised to come up with innovative solutions to solve philanthropic situations by investing some of the proceeds they acquire from donors. This is because donors may get tired of donating to a cause after sometime or philanthropists cannot keep taking money from the same people. The meeting ended on a good note where the various participants were given the chance to network. It was a great experience!