We are not the kind of people that generally like to sit still in a conference venue but the Segal Family Foundation’s bi-annual gathering in Africa has become a ‘must attend’ for us.
Segal are based in New Jersey but have ten local staff in East Africa. In their words, they ‘support exemplary organizations finding local and scalable solutions to Sub-Saharan Africa’s most pressing challenges, with a focus on healthy, productive, and empathetic youth’.
In just a few short years they have grown their number of partners to 200 in 20-plus countries. Most are grass roots organisations to which Segal does not just provide funding, but also establishes networks of NGOs working in similar sectors. On a regular basis they convene events for knowledge exchange and training.
We are constantly in touch with other funders in search of knowledge – knowledge about new prospects and updates, as well as opinions on existing partners. The Segal people are generous with their time and their conference, this year taking place in Kampala, was a wonderful opportunity to catch-up with our existing partners (Educate!, Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania, Project Muso, The BOMA Project, Beso Foundation and the African SOUP – as well as another fifteen meetings with prospective candidates. As travellers who spend an awful lot of time descending and ascending in all sizes of aircraft across the African continent, you can well believe how grateful we are for the opportunity to meet so many people in just one place!
We love to hear of the successes of our partners but also use these meetings to investigate what challenges our partners are facing, and it was fair to say there were a few that came out of the eighteen meetings. Staffing seems to be a perennial issue, as well as the intransigence of governments and the slow pace at which the wheels of government sometime move. However, one can’t come away from such a gathering of social entrepreneurs and not feel bullish about both the prospects for Africa and the ability of Africans to find those solutions themselves. All they need from us is some financial support to help make it all happen.
- 66 hours’ travel;
- Seven days and two hours in Kampala and Arusha;
- 25 meetings at the conference and 13 at the School of St. Jude;
- Best beer: Serengeti;
- Cheapest beer: at the Waterhole near St Jude’s;
- Best food: Mushroom Fettucine at Mediterraneo in Kampala;
- Biggest funder met: US Military;
- Mosquito density: High;
- Malaria tablets taken? No, forgot; and
- Latest linguistic fashion in NGO Land: ‘Theory of Change’. Yes…., it’s back!!!