The Social Impact Incubator

The Segal Family Foundation Invests in Burundian Civil Society

We have a philosophy of being open and encouraging difficult and diverse conversations. We ask Champions to bring friends and organizations that do not fit the mainstream. That’s a good way to recruit them, in offering them a safe space.

Dedo Baranshamaje, Segal Family Foundation

The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) supports over 180 organizations across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When SFF decided to invest in Burundi, it struggled to find the types of grantees the foundation wanted to fund— young, African-led, grassroots non-governmental organizations with localized knowledge about their communities, and innovative and creative solutions  to address needs. SFF realized that the funding  model created by international actors was further marginalizing an already frail civil society. SFF decided that the only way to advance their grantmaking was to build the capacity of local organizations to be leaders and change-makers, as well as inform and influence donors on the pivotal role of civil society in Burundi. To achieve this, SFF created the Social Impact Incubator.

Burundi does not receive the same international attention and funding as many of its neighbors in East Africa. “There’s a lack of donor attention,” explains SFF executive director Andy Bryant. “There’s really limited funding and the majority comes in the form of top-down investments from international non-governmental organizations and large foreign government institutions. We decided to invest in creating a more thoughtful interaction between donors and practitioners to promote a stronger civil society in Burundi, and foster collaboration and healthy partnerships.”

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Results of the Social Impact Incubator

Outcomes and Impact

A SII evaluation completed in June 2015 revealed several successes, including:

  • 78 percent of SII alumni organizations increased their revenue after the graduation
  • 50 donor connections were directly attributed to SII totaling $1,850,000 of increased funding
  • 65 percent of SII alumni organizations have increased their staff size since graduating
  • 81 percent of SII alumni gained new partners as a result of the incubator

Being able to manage a grant of $2,500 or $5,000 adds legitimacy to their work.

Dedo Baranshamaje, Segal Family Foundation