ACT Foundation Report Indicates Resilience of African Non-Profits Despite COVID-19

Amidst the economic downturn and uncertainties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, non-profit organisations in Africa have shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, providing critical services to their communities while operating in difficult conditions. While some have adapted to the new normal and have begun to revive their operations, others are yet to recover from the devastating impact of the ongoing pandemic.

These definite viewpoints are contained in a report released by Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation, a grant making non-profit organisation, which conducted a research on the impact of COVID-19 on social enterprises in Africa.

Director of Grants and Programs for ACT Foundation, Ndifreke Okwuegbunam, highlighted key aspects of the report during a recent appearance on the Good Citizen Radio show, a weekly program on Inspiration FM. Produced by the leading Sustainability Consulting firm, CSR-in-Action and sponsored by ACT Foundation, The Good Citizen Show is hosted by renowned sustainability advocate and consultant, Bekeme Masade-Olowola, and features discussions on pertinent public issues relating to citizen reorientation in Nigeria.

According to Okwuegbunam, the Foundation, which supports non-profit organisations across Africa, conducted the research to investigate the changes occasioned by the pandemic within the social enterprise space because funders wish to be kept apprised about problem areas of non-profits.

“We realise that as much as many businesses are suffering from the effects of COVID-9, non-profits are suffering as well. Many of them struggle to survive because they don’t have products and services to sell,” said Okwuegbunam.

She explained that ACT Foundation conducted the research in the last quarter of 2020 with over 400 correspondents from seven African countries who gave feedback on the impact of COVID-19 on their organisations.

According to Okwuegbunam, the research revealed that collaboration and capacity building are integral elements for the success of the social sector. The report further spotlights the resilience of organisations in the sector highlighting how some non-profits swiftly adapted and continued providing service in the midst of a pandemic without endangering themselves or their beneficiaries.

“Many of them started digging into their reserves because funding was reduced. Another thing is the speed with which they adapted,” said Okwuegbunam.                                                                                                             

“They transitioned really well in trying to provide critical services without endangering themselves and their beneficiaries. We found out there are a lot of collaborations as well…It was organisations with reserves that were able to adapt easily. The organisations that got funding during the pandemic were also the ones that had formed extensive networks prior to the outbreak. Only organisations that adapt quickly could thrive under the pandemic,” she added.

A key recommendation from the research is the need for non-profits to build reserves through innovation and the saving of finances for eventualities and by maintaining a good professional network.

Dr Omolola Salako of Sebeccly Cancer Care, one of the non-profits supported by ACT Foundation, was also a guest of the episode and spoke about challenges faced by her organisation during the pandemic, even though they had prior to the pandemic digitised one of their core services around cancer care information through the popular app, OncoPadi – meaning Oncology friend, in informal parlance.

“Our number one challenge was that it took us by surprise. Immediately the pandemic started, and lockdown was instituted, cancer screening was suspended immediately,” said Salako, “As a team, we also grapple with how to digitise our services, how to provide support and info to cancer patients. There is also the fear of the unknown, stemming from losing some of our funds as some donors were more concerned with supporting COVID-19.”

According to Salako, the third challenge was about getting patients to understand what was happening. The organisation met these challenges by thinking out of the box and further digitising its services.

To close, the Show host, Masade-Olowola, reminded listeners that the program time would change to an earlier prime time of 5:30pm, still on Fridays, starting 12 February 2021.

To gain more insights and download the report, visit https://bit.ly/ACT_Report.



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