Over the past ten years, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has blazed a trail for women’s rights and philanthropy across the African continent. The first pan-African women’s grant maker on the continent, AWDF has established itself as an innovative organization at the cutting edge of social justice and women’s rights philanthropy in Africa.
Since the start of operations in 2001, AWDF has provided US$17 million in grants to 800 women’s organizations in 42 African countries. AWDF’s grant making processes are uniquely designed to meet the needs of African women and include the provision of small grants ($1000-$5000) to community-based organizations, main grants (up to $50,000), capacity building support and a strong focus on movement building.
Members of AWDF’s staff and board provide capacity building support to grantee partners through convenings, monitoring, and evaluation visits as well as technical assistance to numerous national, regional and international processes. Advocacy and policy development are key areas of activity to support and embed the outcomes of our grant making in national and international legislation, and in development processes more generally.
Examples of our support to key development processes include presentations to the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women Expert Group Meeting on financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women (2007); acting as a thematic lead for the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace & Security (co-convened by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland in 2009); and co-convening the first pan African assembly of the African GrantMakers Network in 2010.
Vision & Mission
The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights.
The vision of AWDF is for women to live in a world where there is social justice, equality and respect for women’s human rights. To this end, our mission is to mobilise financial, human and material resources to support African women and the work of the African women’s movement to advance women’s rights and gender equality in Africa.
The AWDF believe that If women and women’s organisations are empowered with skills, information, sustainable livelihoods, opportunities to fulfill their potential, plus the capacity and space to make transformatory choices, then we will have vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities.
- A grant making portfolio of over 800 women’s organizations, networks and coalitions in 42 African countries.
- A focused, holistic and diverse grant making portfolio which ensures that AWDF addresses the breadth and depth of women’s realities.
- A nuanced and flexible approach to grant making in Africa by an African foundation which practices feminist principles, ensuring relevant and responsive grant making to its constituencies.
- A uniquely feminist organization that has successfully countered the stereotypical images of African women as helpless victims and promoted the reality of African women as active agents of change, by communicating their achievements through publications and other resources including: ‘Voice, Power and Soul: Portraits of African Feminists’ and ‘Creating Spaces & Amplifying Voices: The First Ten Years of the African Women’s Development Fund’
- A leading voice in civil society with a history of successful and effective collaborations and partnerships with a diverse constituency of actors critical to advancing women’s rights in Africa.
- The development of good practice models for movement building as conveners of the ground breaking African Feminist Forum, which is regarded as one of the most influential innovations for women’s rights movement building to have emerged in recent years.
- Playing a leading role in the development of an African agenda for philanthropy as co-founders of the African GrantMakers Network
- Establishing an Endowment Fund for organizational sustainability
Over the past 10 years, AWDF has provided a much needed autonomous resource base to ensure that the needs, aspirations and contributions of African women are recognized, supported and valued. In partnership with our stakeholders, AWDF looks forward to another ten years of strategic grant making for the advancement of women’s rights in Africa, for strengthened women’s leadership, for better health, education and economic security for African women and for social justice in Africa.
The AWDF funds local, national, sub-regional and regional organisations in Africa working towards women’s empowerment. The AWDF is an institutional capacity-building and programme development fund, which aims to help build a culture of learning and partnerships within the African women’s movement. In addition to raising money and awarding grants, the AWDF will attempt to strengthen the organisational capacities of its grantees.
- The AWDF funds work in six thematic areas:
- Women’s Human Rights
- Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods
- Governance, Peace and Security
- Reproductive Health and Rights
- Arts, Culture and Sports
The AWDF will prioritise programs which develop and promote women’s leadership and advocacy across all these themes. These thematic areas have been chosen because they feature very highly on the agenda of the African women’s movement.
- Organisations can be local, national, sub-regional or regional African women’s organisations, from any part of Africa.
- Local women’s organisations should send in the names of two referees, one of who should be a member of a women’s organisation that operates nationally.
- The AWDF will give grants for projects related to any of the thematic areas specified above. AWDF expect applicants to build in relevant and reasonable running/core costs into their project proposals.
- The AWDF will give grants to national and regional organisations for aspects of organisational growth and development such as strategic planning, developing fundraising strategies, communications systems, retreats, governance systems, etc.
- The Foundation will give grants for capital costs such as purchase of computers, printers, photocopiers.
Frequency of grant making
AWDF will make grants in three cycles each year. Applications can be sent in at any time.
Organisations can apply for grants ranging from $5000 – $50,000. Kindly note that most grants will be for less than the maximum. Grants over $20,000 will only be made to organisations which operate on a regional basis.
- Applying organisations should preferably have been in existence for at least three years.
- Women’s organisations have to be led and managed by women.
- National or regional civil society organisations may apply for a women-specific project, but will have to demonstrate that there are women involved in their governance, and that the project will be managed by a senior woman in the organisation.
- Potential grantees should show how the project proposal fits into the organisation’s overall strategy for the area of work or community in which it is located.
- Organisations have to demonstrate how their work fits into either a local, national or regional strategy for the empowerment of African women.
- Applying organisations should have basic organisational systems and structures in place. We will look for evidence of effective leadership, planning and networking.
- The organisation should have a clear evaluation and sustainability plan for the project
- The potential to raise additional funding.
- Ability to manage funds and account for them in a transparent manner.
The AWDF will not support the following projects:
- Organisations that aim to convert people to any religious belief
- Political parties or women’s wings of political parties
- Government departments
- Scholarships and fellowships for academic studies
- Women’s organisations which are not led by women
How to apply
Interested organisations should send in their proposals to the AWDF secretariat in Accra, Ghana, using the grant application guidelines. Applications can be sent in English, French, or Portuguese, by email, fax or post.Please note that whilst we will accept applications by email and fax, we still expect a hard copy.
In order to consider your request, the AWDF need basic and specific information about your organisation, its composition, and its purposes. They need to know how your organisation believes its work can be supported with a grant of $5,000- $50,000 from the African Women’s Development Fund.
All applications should be sent to:
The African Women’s Development Fund
Office: Plot 78 Ambassadorial Enclave, East Legon
Post: P.M.B CT 89 Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
Have you worked with the African Women’s Development Fund? Have you secured funding from the AWFD? Share your experiences in the comments.