Most Innovative Charity: AfriKids, third place

The charity is working towards operating without the support of western aid.

Georgie Fienberg, international director of AfriKids, in conversation at the awards
Georgie Fienberg, international director of AfriKids, in conversation at the awards

Not many organisations want to put their staff out of a job, but that's exactly what AfriKids is aiming for: it hopes not to exist in five or 10 years.

AfriKids was founded by Georgie Fienberg, its international director, after a gap-year visit to Ghana in 1997. Fienberg visited a babies home in Sirigu, a village in the north of the country, and was struck by the resourcefulness of those running it. She felt that what she saw didn't match western perceptions of Africa's problems.

"I'd seen what everyone sees on TV," she says. "Desperation, corruption and little kids holding out rice bowls. But what I saw there was different. Yes, there are problems, but local people are dealing with them successfully."

AfriKids supports disadvantaged children in northern Ghana by improving community support services and by providing access to education and healthcare.

"We're working to make AfriKids sustainable and to reduce its dependence on western aid," says Fienberg. The charity has a team of four staff in its London office. Eventually, they will probably be out of jobs, and that's exactly what Fienberg wants. "We want to prove that giving aid isn't enough on its own," she says. "So we're making strides towards shutting down our UK office and operating only in Ghana."

And what happens when that goal is reached? "I love the region so much," says Fienberg. "It would be nice to be there without the pressure of work."

Caspar van Vark

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