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The Federal Government has hosted the first Nigeria Philanthropy Summit, with the aim of forming a more strategic and coordinated process of ensuring that Nigerians benefit optimally from the wealth and generosity of kind-hearted Nigerians and foreigners.
The summit, which was declared open by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, was co-hosted by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
It was attended by 30 high net worth individuals (HNIs) and philanthropic foundations from around the world, who share the government’s philanthropy as a strategic tool for sustainable development.
The Vice President noted that, “this event is a critical step in the process that will help define a strategy for philanthropy in Nigeria. Today, we will begin to develop a future that signals a new era where philanthropy becomes an intrinsic part of this country’s transformation.”
Okonjo-Iweala explained that the summit intends to help wealthy Nigerians become more strategic in their giving, to create a bigger impact and leave a lasting legacy for the benefits of the causes they choose.
According to her, “Nigerians are a generous people. Giving is part of our culture and intrinsic to our religious beliefs. But it’s important to give in a strategic way that not only delivers positive impact but also sustainable.
“Today is about starting an important conversation with high net worth Nigerians which will lead to a better way of giving, to improve our collective welfare,” she said.
She disclosed that in line with this initiative, the stakeholders are working to establish a private sector-run office to house database and necessities for guiding the philanthropy network of wealthy Nigerians, which she put at between 0.1 and 0.3 of the nation’s GDP.
The minister added that a Nigeria Philanthropy Forum is in the works just as possible tax incentives for kind-hearted corporate bodies that are generous with their wealth, like was done for flood relief donors recently.
For Tony Elumelu, whose foundation has partnered with the minister of Finance in strategic philanthropy over the past three years ago, “catalytic philanthropy requires us to think more strategically about applying personal wealth.
“Wealthy Nigerians should move beyond traditional forms of philanthropy to one where our interventions have a significant and long term impact. This is what will create social wealth and economic prosperity for all Nigerians.”
He also pointed out that with a strategic philanthropic partnership in place, wealthy Nigerians and their foundations would be able obtain from the government salient development needs and better continue or expand their gestures in such regard.
Also prominent at the summit were Christopher Chandler, CEO of Legatum Group; Jane Wales, President and CEO of Global Philanthropy Forum; Cosmos Maduka, President and CEO of Coscharis Motors; Uche Orji, CEO of Sovereign Wealth Fund; and Africa’s richest woman, Foluronsho Alakija, whose foundation caters for women and vulnerable children.
According to Alakija: “I am glad to be here today because all what we have been doing since we launched our foundation in 2008 have been things just from decisions from the heart and by the Lord’s leading.
“We learnt today that you can channel the same amount of money and reach out to a lot more people. That for me was good information; so, if we come together we will learn more and achieve more”.
Maduka echoed the same enthusiasm, saying; “There are many of us doing things in different ways and in an uncoordinated manner. But this is to help us get together, share information and present you with channels where you can intervene.
“We go to one launching or the other and donate millions and atimes billions of naira but it goes down the drain. But we want to see a big transformation, see how we can coordinate this money and say, four years down the road you can pinpoint what you achieved with this money”.
The foundations and their causes, which are targeted by the initiative span areas like health, job creation, agriculture, skill acquisition, and other socio-economic issues.