Reaching Milestones

Reaching Milestones

Conferences: The African Philanthropy Forum (APN), met in Morocco in October. It profiled innovations by social entrepreneurs, debated the priorities and concerns of High Net Worth Individuals and launched a Tool Kit. The event was a valuable introduction to a particular strand of thinking and networking.

The Global Summit on Community Foundations: Introduced by Dr. Joyce Malombe, the summit held in Johannesburg with some three hundred participants saw the launch of the Chair in African Philanthropy and its upgraded web site which will continue to be improved. The event was somewhat different from many that I have attended in that North, South, East and West were in the room as equals under a shared label of Community Foundations. There was significant diversity in, for example, approaches to the politics and potentials of resource mobilization and what ‘community’ looks like. The mix of participants and design of the event are signalling a power shift that, if treated self-critically, can complement and accelerate empowerment from the ground up.

Curriculum Approval: The Master’s curriculum has been approved by Wits University and is now submitted to the Higher Education Council for accreditation. This process can take many months. However long it takes for approval, preparations for teaching and so on will mean that the degree programme will not be offered until early 2018.

PhD enrolment: The Chair’s capacity for doctoral supervision is currently limited. By way of experiment, a co-supervision arrangement has been agreed for a first PhD candidate in this academic field. Her research will investigate an iterative relationship between decision-making processes and performance measurement in philanthropic funding.

Appointment of Honorary Research Follows will increase supervision capacity, as will agreements with suitably qualified individuals on and beyond the continent. Attracting funding for doctoral scholarships will help speed up the process.

Research workshop on Building Content of African Philanthropy: in collaboration with the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), December 6-8 in Nairobi saw some twenty academics and practitioners meet to co-determine what research is required on African Philanthropy. This task was approached in two ways. One was an identification of systemic, prioritised qualitative and quantitative information needs. The other was curriculum-centred to identify the topics to be taught for each course, the information available to do so and the research required to fill the gaps. These dual inputs will be translated into a modular research approach. To expand contributions, there is crowd-sourcing opportunity to feed the research programme. If you wish to contribute in this way, please get in touch with me directly.

Case development: With support from the WBS Case Study Centre, a PhD –post graduate is working on two case studies in Ghana. By design, PASGR exposed the workshop group to innovations in teaching and learning, concentrating on multi-media e-cases. Taking on board this type of pedagogic innovation will be followed up in terms of looking for collaborative application in the Masters programme.

Market survey: The recent survey has generated a mass of material to process, which will happen in the weeks to come. Some 103 interviews were conducted across Africa – 71 in South Africa (including international organisations operating in South Africa), and 32 from across Africa. The people interviewed were form NGOs, Grantmakers and Grantmaker/Influencers, Corporates with CSI Programmes, Government and Financial Services. An online survey was also done in parallel. A total of 371 respondents answered this survey, including students, alumni and clients of Wits and Wits Business School. It provides a fine-grained profile of demand for the degree and how it can best be delivered. A few quotes indicate that we are on the right track.

• There is limited knowledge about philanthropy especially in Africa where there is a great need for Africans to rely on themselves for development, governance and economic prosperity.
• I believe they will be the game changers in how people view community development and sustainable development in the context of poor resourced countries such as in Africa.
• To improve the quality of lives through appropriate and sustainable interventions in the communities where our business operates.
• It would enable more staff to have the knowledge which would then be beneficial to the running of different projects and overall to the business.

The results also provide pointers for short courses and an updated communications strategy. Headline findings are: (i) there is demand across a range of professional types and age groups – young professionals and experienced practitioners; (ii) a mix of face to face and distance delivery is likely to be more viable than a 3 month on site block to cover all courses that we had in mind; (iii) applied research by students on topics and problems relevant for and undertaken within their own organisations is likely to be as strong a motivation for enrolment as that of gaining knowledge and gaining peer learning networks; (iv) communications will need to shift a oft-repeated perspective that does not appreciate the difference between an academic Chair as an enduring institutional home for a dedicated field of study and a (time bound) University project or programme.

Milestones Ahead

The next six months will see a concentration of eort to rmly establish the Chair’s prole. This will serve as the basis for a next stage of practical preparation for implementation that will call for full time engagement. The coming work agenda will have the following goals and activities.

• Fundraising for and recruitment of full professor.
• Establishing a viable business model.
• Determining the degree delivery structure, including the pedagogic approach, hopefully with distance learning and e-cases guided by PASGR experience and expertise.
• Starting Executive Education offerings.
• Drafting a research programme and obtaining funding.
• Identifying and recruiting teaching faculty.
• Expanding PhD supervision capacity.

A daunting, but exciting, load.
With seasonal greetings,

Best wishes
Alan Fowler (Prof)

Wits Business School
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