Although gifting and philanthropy in their various forms have been practised on the African continent for a long time, the study and information on the topic is still limited, with most research coming from outside of the continent. The African philanthropy field therefore lags significantly behind its global counterparts in terms of knowledge, data, infrastructure and research.

This means that the continent is at a distinct disadvantage in developing the field, maximising the potential resources and building and creating evidence, knowledge and information on African philanthropy, despite the sharp increase in this field in recent years.

It was with this in mind that Wits Business School (WBS) and EFC member the Southern Africa Trust (the Trust) have collaborated to establish an Academic Chair in African Philanthropy in a pioneering move to take forward the study of gifting in Africa, located on the continent itself.

The Trust is an independent, regional, non-profit agency that supports civil society organisations to participate effectively and with credibility in policy dialogue so that the voices of the poor can have a better impact in the development of public policies.

Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, Executive Director of the Trust, says, “The rise in African philanthropy results in more opportunities for a new narrative about Africa’s gifting culture – a space to revise, reframe, and conceptualise Africans’ own history and narrative of giving so that it is rooted in practice and relevant to the context. Here, there is room to acquire knowledge, develop models and tools appropriate to Africans’ realities, and to explore opportunities for strengthening the role and impact of the variety of formal and non-formal giving mechanisms – and in doing so, help to build a stronger, more independent civil society and amplify and strengthen local voices, local agency and local power in the design of social, economic and political agendas.”

Housed at Wits Business School in Johannesburg, South Africa, full vesting of the chair will be assisted by the interim appointment of Dr Alan Fowler, a leading academic in this field. Currently Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, Professor Fowler will play a key role in establishing a professional point of reference, a space for dialogue and a home for study dedicated to African philanthropy.