The Housing Finance Foundation; Creating an Army of Artisans

Over 500 male and female artisans have graduated from a free skills training program offered at the Alibhai Shariff Centre of Excellence in Nairobi.

The graduates underwent globally competitive competency courses in: woodwork, metal fabrication, painting and electrical works. The training was provided by a group of local instructors,who attended the Global Tool Trainer Certification (GTTC) at the Stanley Black and Decker University in Dubai.HFCK Foundation

The program, a public-private partnership between Housing Finance Foundation, Alibhai Shariff.and the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology, is geared at addressing the gap in vocational skills in the informal sector, particularly in the construction industry.

Speaking during the ceremony Mr. Frank Ireri, Housing Finance Managing Director said, “We are delighted with the way this program has proceeded and fulfilled its core mission of enhancing students’ technical capacities. Considering that this was the pilot phase, the training has surpassed all expectations”.

Housing Finance Foundation is currently running a Vision 2030 flagship project that aims to create‘An Army of 1 Million Artisans’. Alibhai Shariff, on the back of decades of legacy in Kenya, further cemented its vision of providing responsive goods and services that will serve a growing and dynamic industry through this initiative. It provides a best practice example of partnership frameworks between both formal and informal private sector players, for the greater good.

“Vision 2030 cannot be implemented without these artisans. As Housing Finance, we cannot do this alone which is why we are partnering with the government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, as well as with market leaders like Alibhai Shariff,” said Mr. Ireri.“Our dream to have one million skilled artisans is well on course, and these graduates are a testimony to that,” he added.

The 558 graduates are well equipped to provide competitive services to the construction industry..The trainingfacilitated the transfer of knowledge and skills that are relevant to current market needs.

“As partners, we are playing a bigger role than providing entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence they require to serve a growing need; we are playing the role of active cultural architects, who have envisioned the potential of the sector, and are breaking this down into singular, achievable goals, which will ensure a greater number of people become stakeholders to this dream and enjoy it’s rewards,” explained Mr. Rafiq Shariff, Executive Director of Alibhai Shariff & Sons Ltd.

Mr. Shariff explained that the graduates represented both men and women from Nairobi and its environs, and that deliberate effort was put to promote equity in the program. “As we grow our network in the country and beyond, we will carry this vision with us, and help create a positive operating environment for both suppliers such as ourselves, and job creators.”

One major challenge facing the Government and the labour market is the absence of a skills inventory that would indicate the distribution of well-trained Kenyans. The training at the TVET level has been hindered by demand that is outpacing available facilities; many young people who end up in the informal or Jua Kalisector do not have formal training to make them more competitive.

“This skills-enhancement initiative was launched in conjunction with Alibhai Shariff’s Partners – Stanley Black and Decker and Sadolin Paints (E.A.) Ltd at the Alibhai Shariff Building Centre – Thika Road Mall.Training has been ongoing since Mid 2014, with the next round scheduled to commence later this month.

“The backing we have received from Alibhai Shariff and the Government is a testament to the important work we are carrying out to help artisans fulfill their potential and contribute to the growth of Kenya’s economy.” concluded Mr. Ireri.

About Housing Finance Foundation

Housing Finance Foundation (HFF) is a subsidiary of Housing Finance, whose objectives are to create a strong social investment arm to complement its economic value. HFF key focus is on Technical and Vocational Entrepreneurial Training. Housing Finance Foundation main agenda is to create an Army of 1 Million Artisans to supply skilled labour to the region and beyond.

About Alibhai Shariff

Alibhai Shariff has built its reputation as a leading building materials providerin the country, stocking quality products and accessories from top international brands. This holistic offering is specially designed to assist specially professionals, developers, facility managers and fundi’s and even DIY enthusiasts with all their construction requirements. At Alibhai Shariff, we strive to “create beautiful, quality spaces for work and living” and constantly grow our business towards this end.

In response to the Amendments to the PBO Act

In November 2014 the NGO Council and the Ministry of Devolution issued a memorandum proposing changes to the PBO Act (2013). Of the 54 amendments, 16 of them explicitly targeted local Trusts and Foundations and would gravely affect the growth of philanthropy in Kenya. They include;

  1. Making compulsory the re-registration, regulation and control of all agencies doing public benefits work. Many of these will include Trusts and Foundations; the implication of this is that all Foundations and Trust will have to register under the PBO Act as opposed to seeking PBO status and retaining their original registration as is currently the case in the PBO Act.
  2. Reversing a decade of policy dialogue around how to encourage domestic philanthropy for development through progressive tax breaks and other incentives for development. The proposal in the memorandum is to have this provision in the Second Schedule deleted. See specifically point 54 changes to the Second Schedule;
  3. Removes the obligation of the State to provide “an enabling environment for PBOs”, “consult PBOs on public policy”, “a collaborative framework between government and PBOs” and “PBO participation except through their representatives”;
  4. Similar to Ethiopian NGO Law, legally block access to foreign funding to 15% of PBOs budgets. Agencies, include Kenyan PBOs who seek more than 15% in foreign funding  will have to now register as Foreign Public Benefits Organisations;
  5. Requiring any organization registered under the PBO Act to compulsorily (as opposed to voluntarily), join and maintain membership in a self-regulation forum.
  6. Raises the number of Kenyans required on the boards of all PBOs from 1/3 to 2/3 regardless of whether they are local or international organizations.
  7. Removes public, judicial and parliamentary oversight in the appointment and management of the officials of the PBO Authority. This would then leave this all powerful body under the control of the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution

In response, EAAG and KCDF convened over 30 foundations and trusts to discuss the effects of the proposed amendments and draw up a collective way forward. The objective was to design a structured and organized manner to share update on the development, develop and present collective memorandum to the Task Force on PBO Act amendments. The group set up a Foundations and Trusts steering group to provide information and take leaders in achieving this goal.

The group has since participated in various forums and on the 5th of March the group presented a finalized memorandum to the taskforce. See final memorandum here. The Task force completed in 30th March 2015 and the participants eagerly await the findings and recommendations.

For updates on the progress please send an email to

African Philanthropy: Advancing towards Social Justice

Traditional philanthropy characteristically distances itself from addressing structural limitations in inequality and poverty.  It is philanthropy shy about radically confronting existing structural inequalities but more inclined to charity and service provision. Echoes from the Second Biennial Assembly of the African Grantmakers Network held in Johannesburg from 29 October to 2 November 2012 revealed a growing trend – the dire need to address the root causes of Africa’s problems through social justice. The drums for philanthropy to enhance social change by creating platforms that support social, economic and political justice across the continent resounded dominantly in all the conference sessions. Philanthropy for social justice calls for strategies that facilitate social change through advocacy for the disenfranchised in the society. The assembly participants called on African Grantmakers to enhance equity within and without the continent by transforming both internal and external policy making processes to those that promote equity. Proposals included developing a shared vision for Africa’s economic and political agenda, transforming relationships between citizens and the state by enhancing citizen participation and public accountability and raising Africa’s voice in contributing to the development of the international agenda. Acknowledging the resource strain that comes with social justice philanthropy, emphases were laid on the need to encourage corporate, wealthy/high net worth individual to contribute to the grantmaking community. In her remarks Her Excellency Graça Michel challenged African Grantmakers to mobilize more resources from Africans and engage communities in identifying problems and generating solutions. Regional Grantmakers in the continent were called upon to dedicate funds to transformational change. Although there has been an increase in grantmaking for social justice at the global level, the growth of social justice philanthropy in East Africa has been relatively slow.  Even so, there have been discussions among local Grantmakers on the importance of funding programmes that address the root causes of social, economic and political problems in East Africa. A major development of such discussions was witnessed during the 3rd East Africa Grantmakers Conference held in Entebbe Uganda from 25th – 27th July 2012. Themed ‘’Philanthropy, Leadership and Governance in East Africa’’, participants engaged on various strategies to address governance shortfalls and contribute to equitable and sustainable development in the region. Deliberations from this conference laid emphasis on the importance of enhancing a bottom-up approach to development by promoting citizen participation and supporting institutional change that is responsive to the needs of the people. These developments indicate a growing trend in social justice philanthropy at both continental and regional levels. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” Martin Luther King, Jr Catherine Mwendwa, EAAG References Aileen Shaw, 2002, Social Justice Philanthropy: an Overview, Newyork, Synergos institute, August 5th 2002 Annual East Africa Grantmakers Conference, More on African Grantmakers Network and Conference proceeding



Poverty (Photo credit: s_w_ellis)

Speech by Prof.Jonathan Jansen, VC, University of Free State during the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, 2011
For as long as I can remember, my father Abraham (or Abie, as everyone called him) was always struggling. His love letters to my mother, Sarah, are filled with painful stories about how to raise the money to get from Lansdowne to Montagu for their long-distance courtship. By the time he died, my father drove a horrible little blue car, given to him by his brother-in-law Goliath (a small man) that many panel beaters had taken out their frustrations on. That blue little panel van should have been one of the Seven Wonders of the World, not this bloody rock that you Capetonians go bananas about.
Abraham once tried to hawk fruit and vegetables but was always in debt because any aunty with a hard-luck story would be given a bag of squash with those memorable words, “ag, sort me out next time.” Of course, next time never came. He was a driver for Nannucci, but that too was difficult because he would often just give the dry cleaning to some poor client and pay out of his own pocket; I remember as his after-school assistant transactions like 3- and-6 for a pair of trousers.
Abraham eventually became a missionary- which in our church meant you were dependent on gifts from brothers and sisters whom themselves were often poor- but that did not stop him from giving away the shirt on his back to a man who said he could not come to the service because he did not have a clean shirt.
In this distinguished audience tonight there are many Abrahams, and the only reason I agreed to come tonight-apart from the remarkable recruitment (some might say ‘begging’) skills of one Adrienne Coetzee-was because this was a special group of people who represent the country we do not have, but that so many of us still dream of.
I do not want to speak tonight about who give millions; we are grateful for them. I want to talk, rather, about those who give themselves. Let me say what I mean.
You see those winning awards this evening teach us three important lessons:
1.    You teach us that in kleptocratic culture, we have in you the seeds of a counter-cultural movement that can push back against greed, corruption and the shameless display of wealth.
2.    You teach us that what makes this country great is not the big men in politics but the small people of philanthropy.
3.    You teach us that unlocking the potential of communities lie not in jamming sessions around slick national development plans but in the concrete actions of citizens determined to make a difference.

And so I wish to pay tribute to those who give this evening, and who give from within their limitations.
1.    I pay tribute to the mother who puts her domestic’s children through the same school as her own children; thank you. You understand how important it is to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in destitute families.
2.    I pay tribute to the teacher who stays after hours and comes back in before school starts to provide extra lessons to children whose parents cannot afford the expensive tutors for after school mathematics or science. You understand that the way out of poverty is not through political connections to powerful tender committees, or through the nationalization of the mines to feed voracious elite, but through the one chance open to the poor-a solid school education.
3.    I pay tribute to the NGO leader-like my recently deceased friend Clem van Wyk of the Global Dialogue for Leadership Programme-who spends endless nights worrying about whether you can meet the bill of your staff; all because you have a compelling vision t meet the needs of youth in a broken society. You understand that you can reach into the crevices of society which the government can never access.
The fact that we give of ourselves and from our own limited resources to help destitute individuals does not mean we must not ask questions about the deep structural inequalities in our society. We need to struggle for the kind of politics and the kind of economy that enables us to create a more equal and more just society. We need to struggle against the demagoguery that pretends to speak for the poor while disrupting the educational and life chances of the poor-as in threatened Eastern Cape teacher’s strike on the eve of final examinations.
In the meantime, what keeps this country together is not the power but the ordinary; people like you. I salute those who win awards this evening. I thank those who organized this opportunity to say thank you.
You know, as I travel up and down this country talking to ordinary people, the question I get asked most often is this: is there hope for our country? Is there a future for our children?
My answer is simple. If it were up to our government, I am not sure at all. But since I have witnessed, first hand, the capacity of ordinary people to give out of nothing, to love where there is hatred, to sacrifice without the expectation of reward…… for this reason, because of you, I am hopeful.


Eight East African Philanthropists were honored at the 2013 East Africa Philanthropy Awards ceremony held on 25th July at the Sarova White Sands Beach Resort in Mombasa, Kenya. The awards were held on the final day of the East Africa Philanthropy Conference themed ‘Philanthropy and Business’ which sought to uncover the parallels and nexus between philanthropy and Business in social development in East Africa. The eight included individuals and organizations that had through exceptional zeal and efforts positively transformed their immediate communities. The Awards organized by the East Africa Association of Grantmakers (EAAG) identifies, recognizes and celebrates outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations to strategic social development and to the growth of the philanthropic movement in East Africa. The 2013 East Africa Philanthropy awardees were.

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Award for Individual Philanthropy
Chris Mburu, Founder-HBEF

Chris Mburu, Founder-HBEF

Chris Mburu, Hildeback Education Fund, Kenya Chris has made extra ordinary contribution to the lives of poor children in Kenya. With amazing zeal and through the Hilde Back Education Fund which he founded in the year 2001, he has dedicated time and resources to the education of bright children who would otherwise have no chance of joining Secondary School. After experiencing poverty as a child and solely relying on a Swedish sponsor, Chris became successful and decided that through the Small Act of support from Hilde Back, he will also provide much needed educational support to needy children in Kenya. The story of Chris Mburu has been captured well in the ‘A Small Act’ documentary.

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Award for Corporate Philanthropy

CaptureGertrude’s Hospital Foundation, Kenya Having been established in 2010 as a channel through which the Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital would carry out its CSR projects, the Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation has grown in its services offerings to the public. Through free medical camps, year-long free Medical treatment (at the Githogoro Children’s Clinic).corrective facial surgeries(in partnership with Smile Train) and other relevant partnerships and campaigns, the Foundation filled a gap in the health sector at a time when the need for adequate healthcare especially for children was not readily available.  Through partnerships with institutions in the profit and non-profit sectors, it continues to promote and improve access to quality healthcare in the region effectively embodying the fact that corporate institutions through unique shared strategies and policies can indeed achieve more social returns in the communities around them.

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Awards for Community Philanthropy

CaptureJBFC, Tanzania The Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children in Mwanza Tanzania is a community centre founded and run by Chris Gates. As a young boy with a desire to see the wild of Tanzania, Chris Gates was taken aback when he finally got a chance as a missionary to visit the country. The numbers of young orphaned girls on the streets inspired him to set up a rescue centre that would later become a Foundation catering for their immediate needs i.e. Food, Shelter, clothing and education. Currently a home to 43 orphaned girls, the JBFC community is keeping itself sustainable through a restaurant that also trains the girls on culinary skills, a primary school which was amongst the best performers in the region and a farm.

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Award for Youth Philanthropy

sitawa_1341734877_99Sitawa Wafula, Kenya She had to quit her Actuarial Science degree course at the University of Nairobi, survived rape, a suicide attempt and was diagnosed with mental disorder, and now she is stronger than ever. She is the Mental Health Ambassador Kenya and through online spaces, Sitawa Wafula regularly hosts online discussions around the challenges facing those with mental health issues. She is also a renowned poetess performing regularly to different audiences and sharing messages on different social issues through her articulate spoken words. Regularly posting on her blog ( articles on the different social causes and campaigns that she supports, Sitawa offers comfort to others in similar situations effectively providing them with an online ‘shoulder to lean on’.     Sitawa Wafula embodying the title slacktivist is indeed more than the title would render. 

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Award for Community Philanthropy

DSC_0937   Robinah K. Nanyunja, Pilot International, Uganda Robinah K. Nanyunja is an Environmentalist, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and an advocate of Green Politics. She is the Founder, President & CEO of Pilot International whose vision is to promote global sustainable development for the benefit of humanity and the planet. Through Pilot International Robinah has provided a global platform to promote the production of green economies by engaging world leaders in clean and renewable energy and other sustainable innovations. Furthermore, she launched the Green Party- a political outfit- that seeks to champion for Green economies and policies.

  1. East Africa Philanthropy Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

DSC_0956Josephine Kizza Aliddeki, St. Jude Family Projects, Uganda From a very humble beginning Josephine Kizza Alidekki is now impacting and transforming many lives of people in Uganda, through the St.Jude Family Project in Masaka. Set up to improve household incomes, crop yields, household food security and diet, St. Jude teaches the most vulnerable groups in the society ways of improving family subsistence farming and diet.  Working mainly with rural families, many of who are supporting orphans, and youth groups, St. Jude targets groups in areas where farming techniques are poor and soils are depleted, especially in its immediate vicinity.  St. Jude trains many groups of local farmers who then become part of the St. Jude Farmers Association.   At the farm, rural farmers experience modern scientific integrated organic agriculture and low-cost, environmentally sustainable innovations that increase productivity. Using her skills to ensure sustainability of the environment, Josephine Kizza Aliddeki is also providing knowledge and a source of income to her community members through organic agriculture.

  1. Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award

DSC_1002Dr. Manu Chandaria, Kenya Having convinced his father to give back to the society in 1950, Dr. Manu Chandaria has since continued  in efforts at promoting access to better healthcare, better education, better corporate responsiveness to disasters and environmentally conscious commercial activities. Steered the Chandaria Foundation, the organisation has been keen to respond to changing dynamics in social needs and at a time when the country needs better equipped graduates and hospitals, through partnerships with Kenyatta University, USIU, Nairobi University and The Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital the foundation is ensuring that these needs are adequately met and satisfied. His overall approach to Philanthropy is also inspiring speaking volumes of his intent and passion towards continued social development of the East African society.

  1. Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award

Dr. Reginald Mengi, Tanzania Twice nominated for the Most Respected CEO in East Africa, Reginald Mengi is one of Africa’s leading and most influential businessmen. As owner and Executive Chairman of Tanzania’s IPP Media Group, he pioneered Corporate Social Responsibility in Tanzania by contributing his time and resources to worthy causes. Best known for sponsoring children to undergo lifesaving heart surgeries in India, Reginald Mengi has also consistently taken part in setting up development projects which focus on people with disabilities and has been equally vocal against discrimination of such disabled persons. In 1987, he initiated and funded a campaign to reforest Mount Kilimanjaro and to date over twenty four million trees have been planted on the slopes of the mountain, effectively reducing the effects global warming had on the snow peaked mountain. Through his immense wealth and influence Dr. Mengi continues to influence policy that supports positive social development in Tanzania. We, at EAAG continue to encourage acts of generosity throughout East Africa driven by a desire for sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. We congratulate the awardees and encourage them to keep on keeping on.

September – Marking the International Suicide Prevention Month

To mark the International Suicide Prevention month in September, Sitawa Wafula, an awardee of the East Africa Youth in Philanthropy Awards and founder of MyMindMyFunk – campaign on mental health launched a FREE SMS Service 22214. The application offers information and support on issues of mental health, epilepsy and related ailments. The launch was held at the Mathari North Health Centre, on Friday 26th September 2014 and officiated by the Nairobi County Women’s Representative Hon Rachel Shebesh. (See pictures here)

The line
The SMS line is open to all Kenyans and aims to reach out to those with limited or no internet access. It offers the following services;

1. ASK A COUNSELOR SERVICE where one can ask any question related to epilepsy and mental health and qualified counselors manning the line will get back through text or call depending on the question at no cost to those looking for help. Simply send a text to 22214 with the questions.

2. INFO TIT BITS – Weekly tit bits on different topics ranging from epilepsy, mental health, drugs and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS to finance management can be sent once one subscribes by simply texting mhke (short for mentally healthy kenya) to 22214 and follow prompt on info.

3. Provides a list of service providers, psychologists and support groups that offer epilepsy, mental health and suicide prevention. All lists have contact numbers and one can access the contacts by simply texting 66 for a list of private practice psychologists in Nairobi, 77 for list of clinics across the country offering mental health and epilepsy services and 88 for various support groups to 22214.

Follow Sitawa Wafula;
Follow Twitter:

Launch of the Global Philanthropy Data Charter

The Global Philanthropy Data Charter

In an effort to meet the demand for accurate, reliable and globally comparable data for philanthropy, the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmakers Support (WINGS) together with the Foundation Centre launched the Global Philanthropy Data Charter. The Data Charter is a framework to guide organizations in the sector as they set out to improve philanthropy data, acknowledging the diversity of context, culture, and legal framework within which they operate. It provides both a code of good practice to improve the working relationships of those involved in philanthropy data, as well as a framework for engaging other sectors (governments, corporations, academia and civil society in general) around sharing and using philanthropy data for public benefit.

The Global Philanthropy Data Charter is the result of a collective effort, conducted by WINGS jointly with the Foundation Center, which brought together stakeholders from all regions to work towards a common vision for global data on philanthropy. The Data Charter was first launched at the WINGS Forum 2014 early this year and its new website reflects the philanthropy sector’s commitment to using accurate and accessible information to set priorities, allocate resources, assess needs and identify trends.

The website includes:

  • Map of initiatives using the Data Charter to guide their work;
  • Data Charter’s usages and benefits;
  • Current endorsers and how to join;
  • Special seal that endorsers may use to demonstrate their commitment to good data for greater impact.

The Data Charter has already been translated into Chinese, Russian and Portuguese, and is expected to be translated into other languages. The website features interviews with TaoZe, China Foundation Center, and Olga Evdokimova, Evolution & Philanthropy, and Andre Degenszajn, GIFE, responsible for the translations. They highlighted the importance of translating the Data Charter to engage local actors that would otherwise be left out, and to further develop information infrastructure and partnerships.

“Data is the infrastructure of the philanthropy sector in China… For example, we use the data on how foundations participate in disaster relief to reallocate resources efficiently.” Tao Ze
“Partnerships and networks are important parts of the philanthropy sector’s development. We hope the Data Charter will facilitate better collaboration and more strategic decision-making among different stakeholders in Russia…”Olga Evdokimova
“Having a Portuguese translation will enable reaching out to a larger audience and will increase understanding of its content – as some concepts need adaptation to our local context.” Andre Degenszajn
For more information visit