The AFFORD Story


In December 1993, Nicholas Atampugre wrote an article in the journal, Africa World Review, describing the irony of NGOs professing their concern for capacity building in Africa while ignoring the Africans living in their headquarter cities who were separately, yet simultaneously mobilising to support development in their regions of origin—the same places of focus for the NGOs.

When Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie read the article, it struck a chord with him, so he called upon the author to meet for a discussion.

The meeting took place early in 1994 in which the two agreed that there was a strong need to take action by forming an organisation that would provide a different approach—an African approach—to development in Africa.

The African Foundation For Development (AFFORD) founders shared opinions that fuelled a passion and a mission for change: most mainstream development organisations assumed that Africans had no interest in development issues, therefore they only targeted the white, liberal, middle class audience. Being that the founders were both African and highly involved in development, they were acutely aware that the image portrayed in the media—that of the Western saviour riding to Africa’s rescue—was a distortion of reality.

The results from the research, published as A Survey of African Organisations in London: An Action Agenda for AFFORD, formulated an action plan for future interventions that would transform and impact People, Policy, Practice and Programmes. See below for highlights of the journey so far.

Sharing these opinions, a mission was born: to expand and enhance the contribution Africans in the diaspora make to Africa’s development. Through this mission AFFORD was unique; in 1994, there was no other organisation that properly recognized the aspirations of Africans in the UK to contribute to Africa’s development. Atampugre was highly active in the development field around the time of AFFORD’s establishment. He was working for both an African NGO and as an academic highly involved in his northern Ghanaian community. In addition, Atampugre sat as a chair on the Comic Relief grant committee. AFFORD therefore had automatic access to a wide pool of development professionals and activists who formed the original AFFORD board of trustees. In 1995 AFFORD was formally incorporated as a charity, and a grant from the Trust for London was awarded shortly thereafter. This first grant was monumental for the organisation, because it allowed the organisation to properly undertake research and open a small office. AFFORD drove into participatory action-research to provide the evidence base and legitimacy to act in ways consistent with the wishes and needs of other Africans.

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