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Closing the race gap in philanthropy demands radical candour

Why should black founders jump through more hoops to earn funders’ trust?

I was in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, when I heard about the shooting of another black man, Jacob Blake, by US police. Close by is a mural of George Floyd, painted on a wall near where I grew up, a reminder that the current upheaval surrounding race in the US has global repercussions. Just as calls for racial justice echo in American and European streets, government offices and boardrooms, we must not forget that the legacy of racial injustice extends far beyond those borders and any honest reckoning must include open dialogue around race in international development.

In Africa, white-led institutions have shaped the development and social entrepreneurship landscape, deciding who succeeds and who fails. Only recently has there been a growing recognition of these imperialist dynamics, which uplift foreign-led practitioners more than local ones. There is a growing consensus that the future should and must be created and led by Africans, because real progress requires it to be on our own terms. And yet, this is just talk until funders shift resources and power, at scale, towards local solutions.

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