In Summary
  • The way forward. TI hope our government follows suit and incentivises the sector so that local philanthropy grows to benefit a wider section of Ugandans.
  • This is because in the absence of a strong social security safety net, poor service delivery and a weakening extended family support structure, philanthropy assumes now an even more prominent role in advancing social and economic causes.

Philanthropy is generally defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money and other forms of support to good causes.
Philanthropy may be charitable in nature, but unlike non-governmental organisations that largely seek external funding to support various causes, philanthropy is largely support from an individual’s own pockets.
Wealthy global foundations like Dale Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made massive investments in scientific research, education, science and technology. An institution like John Hopkins Hospital has made landmark medical inventions because of support from wealthy giving philanthropists.
In fact, studies show that Foundations’ total expenditure on developmental activities in USA alone is now about $5 billion annually, mostly from large US foundations.

Foundations are increasingly involved in public-private partnerships whose activities range from crop and disease research, education, human medicine, infrastructure, and especially water supply, among others.
In Africa, we have Tony Elumelu Foundation that was launched in 2015. The Tony Elumelu Foundation started the Entrepreneurship Programme, which is arguably, the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship and represents a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs, and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.

I know a number of Ugandan youth who received $5,000 each from the foundation as business start ups. One young man invested his money in mushroom growing and is the biggest supplier of mushrooms in the Mukono- Kayunga axis.
Back home, some successful business people have set up foundations like the Madhvani family. The Muljibhai Madhvani Foundation is a charitable trust that spends annually more than Shs700 million promoting scientific and technical education in Uganda both at the graduate and post-graduate levels.

There is also the Aga Khan Development Network that is active in the education field. Businessman Patrick Bitature also founded the Patrick & Carol Bitature Foundation in 2010 focusing on education and life-saving health care initiatives.
The foundation’s flagship programme is Project 500k, which is a community-based educational initiative that is equipping 500,000 youth in Ibanda District with knowledge and skills in financial literacy as well as the attitudes and behaviours associated with successful entrepreneurship.

Recently, a rich young rich man called Brian Kirumira also popularly known as Brian White founded the now famous Bryan White Foundation, with a broad objective to encourage the youth, and the communities at large to engage in agriculture both at a personal and an economic level to fight the rampant famine and poverty at the households level. Unlike other rich Kampala socialites, Bryan is using his personal money to support many unemployed youth to start income generating activities.
One of the first flagship programmes of this foundation has been to mobilise top Ugandan musicians, comedians and other celebrities so as rally support among women and the youth for various government development programmes like Operation Wealth Creation.

Some of these celebrities previously spent their free time in negative indulgences and vices. The foundation has successfully used sports like football and musical shows to rally the youth to embrace agriculture and other viable economic activities.
Recently, while promoting use of improved post-harvest technologies in central Uganda, I met a former bang-smoking Rastafarian group in Masaka District that got a donation of Shs20 million from the Bryan White Foundation to start cage poultry farming in Masaka district.

The group now uses cages to rear and supply chicken in Masaka and the surrounding districts. This support from the foundation has transformed their lives.
Local philanthropy today is growing with billions of shillings spent on supporting the deserving, but less privileged citizenry in various social and economic causes.
In developed countries like USA, such efforts are recognised and supported.

I hope our government follows suit and incentivises the sector so that local philanthropy grows to benefit a wider section of Ugandans.
This is because in the absence of a strong social security safety net, poor service delivery and a weakening extended family support structure, philanthropy assumes now an even more prominent role in advancing social and economic causes.

Mr Oramire is an educationist.
stuartoramire@yahoo.com.