A decade ago African Impact’s very own charity, the African Impact Foundation was founded and has been working to better the lives of local communities ever since.
In 2008, my wife and I were running African Impact’s volunteer projects in the tiny tourist town of St. Lucia, South Africa, and we received a very generous donation from a volunteer that would allow us to build a safer crèche for the vulnerable children we were working with. However, it didn’t feel right to be managing this big expense through the daily operational accounts that were used to pay our staff, fuel the project vehicles, and feed our volunteers. We were therefore delighted when African Impact registered a charity in the UK to correctly govern any donations. This was the beginning of an amazing 10 year journey that has uplifted hundreds of people across the continent.
In addition to the UK charity, African Impact also registered our Foundation in a number of the countries where we work. Not only would this ensure that we’d be operating within the rules and regulations of these destinations, but it would guarantee that every cent of every donation reached exactly where it needed to go.
I was proud to help register our Foundation in Zambia and set up our first major initiative; a Sponsor a Child Program that, to this day, helps cover school fees for underprivileged children from the local community. African Impact’s vision had always been to enable positive social change, but the growth of our Foundation allowed us to drive this forward in a way we’d never expected before.
Over the next couple of years – as my wife took on the role of the African Impact Foundation’s Executive Director and I became African Impact’s Operations Manager (and later, Managing Director) – we developed the relationship between volunteering and our Foundation. It hadn’t taken us long to realize that by working together in a structured way, we could create and support platforms that would help the communities we work with to reach their full potential.
The relationship between for-profit volunteer projects and non-for-profit charities
It is no secret that there are limitations to what volunteers can achieve, and that’s ok. Not every volunteer is a trained teacher, nurse, or builder. However, by combining the passion, minds and hands of volunteers with well-governed, donation-led projects, we knew we could grow the sustainable impact we were making on the ground.
As a for-profit volunteering organization that is fully-funded from volunteer fees, African Impact is proud to be able to run structured, long-term development programs that are completely self-sufficient. Not only are all volunteer donations responsibly spent making a difference locally, African Impact is able to use any profit made to fund new development initiatives, or to start projects in new countries or locations; growing the impact we’re able to make.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
African Impact Foundation Success and Achievements
Looking back over the past 10 years, what African Impact and our Foundation have achieved together brings a very warm feeling to my heart. There are so many stories of success; some small and some big. The Education Centre we built in the village of Jambiani, Zanzibar, has given hundreds of local adults the opportunity for employment within the tourism industry, while the paediatric ward we built in a hospital in Zambia provides a safe, clean and private place for women to give birth. These are just two of the biggies, but sometimes it’s the smaller stories that better highlight just how strong the combination of for-project volunteering with a partner NGO can be. Let me share with you the stories of Justina and Happy Girl.
Justina, student in Zambia
Justina is a student from Livingstone, Zambia, and has spent her whole educational journey alongside African Impact volunteers. She first came across our team in the school she attended, when she struggled with a topic taught by her local teacher and received one-to-one tuition from our volunteer teaching assistants. Only a short time later, through kind donations, the African impact Foundation was able to build an extra classroom and a wall around the school. This ensured a safer, more productive, and less crowded learning environment.
While in high-school, Justina’s family were finding it difficult to keep up with the costs of her education and she was supported by our Foundation’s Sponsor a Child Program. This is funded through grants and donations, and is closely monitored by a dedicated staff member who oversees each child in the program.
Justina was determined to receive an education that everyone should be entitled to, and our volunteers and Foundation allowed her to do just that. In fact, she did far more than that! Justina flourished in her education and graduated high school this year. Her journey with the African Impact Foundation did not end there, and we’re extremely proud to have supported her in her application for the highly-competitive Yale Young African Scholars Program. With the assistance of one of our Foundation’s team members, Justina was able to attend a summer school course held in Ghana for high-achieving African students, and received full mentorship and guidance on how she could apply for university in the United States of America.
Happy Girl, support group member in South Africa
One of African Impact’s most successful programs is our education project in St. Lucia, part of which is a volunteer facilitated support group for women, encouraging them to discuss topics affecting their every day lives. It was through one of these group sessions that we first met Happy Girl. Happy Girl was a young, very quiet, mother who lacked confidence when speaking in front of the group. As part of our efforts to empower these women (many who struggle in a deeply patriarchal system), African Impact volunteers run sessions to build confidence, talk about healthy living and nutrition, and even run some basic yoga classes for the ladies to increase their mobility.
While I believe these sessions did positively impact Happy Girl, it was the introduction of an African Impact Foundation initiative that really saw her shine. Having received donations to support an income-generation project for the support group women, the African Impact Foundation provided some basic materials to kick-start a jewellery-making initiative. Happy Girl grasped the opportunity with both hands and eagerly learned from volunteers how to make jewellery that could be sold to tourists in the local town.
As time passed and my role changed, five years passed before I would see Happy Girl again. Bumping into her at a pre-school in the village where I used to work, I was bowled over by how much she had developed. We were able to chat in English, which she said she had learnt through education sessions with African Impact volunteers. I asked how her son was and if he was at this school. Her smile melted my heart as she explained that through the nutritional education we provided on our medical outreach, her son was much healthier than he had been the last time I had seen him. Not only this, but her craft and jewellery sales were able to support her son’s schooling. I soon realized she wasn’t simply visiting the school, she was working there. Happy Girl believed her time with our volunteers had given her the confidence to get the job.
To this day, I am extremely proud of what African Impact and our Foundation have done for both Happy Girl and Justina.
Responsible Volunteering and The Future of our Foundation
These are just two examples of how much responsible volunteering and well-managed fundraising operations can achieve when working together. The African Impact staff team work closely with the community to define and deliver on projects that truly make a difference, while our Foundation ensures that every single cent of a donation is spent where it is needed the most.
It has been an incredible ten years and I look forward to the future opportunities (and inspiring volunteers) that are just around the corner.