Aid charity forced to close after coronavirus ‘seriously reduced’ its funding

28 Jul 2020 News

The global development charity African Initiatives will shut down next year, with experts warning that many more aid organisation could face closure.

The Bristol-based charity said in a statement that the coronavirus crisis had “seriously reduced” its ability to raise income, along with “changes in the funding environment”.

It decided to close down after merger talks with another organisation were unsuccessful.

Winding down

African Initiatives was founded in 1997, and focuses on work with women and girls in rural Tanzania, including programmes with local partners to address poverty, education and health.

The charity will wind down its work over the next nine months, and will hand on its programmes to partners in the region. It will formally close in April.

African Initiatives had an income of over £700,000 for the financial year 2018-19, according to its most recent documents filed with the Charity Commission. This included just over £160,000 from the Department for International Development (DFID), as well as money from the DFID match-funding programme.  

Bond: More aid charities are at risk

Mike Wright, director of communications, membership and training at the development umbrella body Bond, said: “This is incredibly sad news, and we suspect that though this is the first NGO forced to close its doors during the Covid-19 crisis, it won't be the last.

“African Initiatives is exactly the kind of well respected, community-based, grassroots small NGO we feared wouldn't be able to survive this period without additional financial support from the government.

“Our thoughts are with their staff and the local, Tanzanian organisations they worked with, and we hope the communities and women and girls this organisation helped for over 20 years will continue to get the support they need.”

DFID has provided aid charities with £18m in emergency coronavirus funding, which was shared between just six large charities. A separate DFID scheme for making advance payments to charities with government contracts was criticised as "bureaucratic sludge" after only three charities applied for financial help in the first month.

Twenty years of work

Kim West, the chief executive of African Initiatives, said: “For more than 20 years, African Initiatives has supported thousands of women and girls in rural areas of Tanzania and helped to make our local partners sustainable.

“We are proud of our achievements and legacy, and confident our partners can continue the development programmes we helped to create, supporting education, livelihoods and health.”

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