Over the past two decades, West Africa has experienced rapid democratization and significant economic progress. Yet it remains among the world’s poorest regions. While rich in natural resources, the vast abundance of the region has not been used to benefit all its people. Unequal opportunities for education, employment, and participation severely limit people from poor communities, especially youth and women.
Women make up about half of West Africa’s population, while people under the age of 30 constitute 70 percent. Yet both groups are significantly underrepresented in elected positions, and their voices are often missing in decision-making. The region’s widespread unemployment affects young men and women of all education levels—but it is disproportionately experienced by young women and other vulnerable youth.
We believe there has never been a better or more important time to put youth and women at the center of efforts to address inequality in West Africa. Most of our work focuses on Nigeria—which, with half the region’s population, has great potential to drive change. We also make grants in Ghana and Senegal.
We work to ensure that women and youth have opportunities to actively participate in political processes, so that their voices are represented and policies promote their interests. We support specific efforts to improve career and technical education, to help prepare more young people for employment.
We also work to ensure that public revenues—particularly from taxes, and especially those related to extractive industries—are generated, managed, and disbursed in ways that benefit all people. This means exposing corruption, fostering community participation in decision-making, and empowering communities to demand accountability.
What we don’t fund
We know nonprofit staff’s time is valuable, so we discourage using it to submit proposals that don’t fall within funding guidelines. In this spirit, we aim to be transparent about what our grant making does not support.
We do not fund in-country work in West Africa beyond our three focal countries: Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.