We support organisations around the world working to ensure people can fully participate in civic and political life, safely challenge power, and access accurate, trustworthy information.
Africa has the youngest population of any continent, with youth making up the majority in most countries. Yet, young people are underrepresented, with little access to civic participation or leadership. At the same time, many other groups are also excluded from civic and political life. While the region has benefitted from tremendous growth in access to technology, digital threats to democracy have also increased, with content in mainstream and digital media platforms becoming more polarised. We continue to see attempts at executive overreach and repression of civil society and media by governments.
Our strategic focus
Active in Africa since 2009, our work focuses on people most affected by discriminatory laws, policies, and practices. This includes underrepresented groups, such as women, youth, and religious, ethnic, and other minorities. We recognise the structural barriers they face in having the agency, voice, and freedom to participate in civic life. We work to help these groups challenge and build power. Our priority countries are Nigeria and Kenya, along with some targeted, regionally focused work in South Africa.
Our current priorities
Supporting youth civic participation and leadership that is inclusive and representative
Despite their numbers, youth are under-represented in candidate pools and in formal governance roles. There’s also a growing need to have candidates who understand this group’s challenges and values. We fund non-partisan initiatives that help young people, women, and other underrepresented groups participate in democratic institutions, and to run for office. We support initiatives that promote civic education and greater voter registration and turnout at local and national elections.
Ensuring underrepresented groups can freely express their civic and political concerns
For people to participate in civic life, they must first have citizenship rights, including the right to hold identity documents. In Kenya, where 11 per cent of the country lacks these basic legal documents, we support initiatives addressing the structural barriers that prevent full participation. For example, we fund organisations working to help people access their citizenship documents. We support advocacy and policy reform that enables inclusive documentation and registration systems. And we engage in strategic litigation, challenging the legal, administrative, and policy barriers to documentation and participation.
Supporting media and digital platforms to ensure information is accurate and inclusive
There has been a rise in attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation in our priority countries, especially at critical moments such as elections. To counter this, we support investigative journalism that addresses issues facing underrepresented groups and initiatives that focus on challenging inaccurate and misleading information.
Protecting civic space and dissent and enabling groups to challenge and build power
Across Africa, there are threats to the online and offline spaces where people can come together to discuss, participate in, and shape their societies. These threats can take the form of repression of those who challenge power, online and offline surveillance, internet shutdowns, and legislative and funding restrictions. We work with organisations that provide protection for journalists and human rights defenders who are at risk. And we support interventions that protect the ability of civil society and media to operate freely and safely.