Education, Research, Strategy

Scholarships in Africa

Two young and highly successful entrepreneurs were keen on engaging in philanthropy. Their motivation came from their conviction that they have been extremely lucky in both their personal and professional life and that it was time to give back. However, they realized early on that the issue of philanthropy is a highly complex subject matter and approached us to learn the ropes of this new craft. Essentially, they wanted to learn the “do’s” and “don’ts” of philanthropy before becoming actively engaged.

Our Role

We began by assessing the philanthropists’ profiles by guiding them through a process in which they formulated their personal values, motivations and concerns. We then assisted them in matching these with the needs and opportunities that we identify in the respective geographical area(s). When we coupled those insights with the resources that they were willing to invest, they found their initial focus for their philanthropic engagement.

Based on this initial focus, we provided them with reading material to learn more about the issue. In addition, we organized field visits to various organizations and meetings with relevant individuals, so that they could paint a picture of the problem and gain an understanding of the various actors and their respective approaches to address the issue.

Project Success

The two clients have been very eager to learn the ins and outs of philanthropy, and so that in itself is a success story. Many common mistakes made in philanthropy today could be avoided if more newcomers were willing to learn from others before starting to give.

We furthermore helped them craft a strategic approach for their philanthropy. As a first step, we jointly analysed the issue of poverty in Switzerland. We selected a method called “walking in the shoes of”, through which we visualised and analysed all the moments in a person’s life where poverty could strike. This analysis allowed them to make an informed judgement about where to focus their engagement, which is to support 15 to 24 years old who, for one reason or the other, do not succeed after completing their mandatory education.  We then assisted the philanthropists in identifying the root cause of the problem by analysing why the current system fails to meet the needs of these youngsters.

What We Learned

Working with two highly motivated young philanthropists, both very much business minded, is constructively challenging as they were not shy to question fundamental assumptions. In addition, we are convinced that a better understanding of how to go about planning and executing a philanthropic engagement is the key determinant of the level of impact the engagement can have.