Lifetime Awards

The African Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award serves as a tribute to acknowledge and honour individuals and institutions that have played instrumental roles in the emergence and expansion of African philanthropy over the past few decades. Often, their valuable contributions go unnoticed. This prestigious award is designed to celebrate these exceptional individuals while they are still living.

The award is presented to an individual who has made substantial and enduring contributions to the growth, practice, trajectory, and significance of African philanthropy over a span of twenty years or more. It also recognises individuals who have been actively involved in mentoring emerging leaders and practitioners within the philanthropic sector. These mentoring efforts encompass various forms of support, such as offering guidance, facilitating connections to opportunities for personal and institutional development, contributing their time, resources, and networks, and preparing the next generation of leaders to ensure a smooth transition and succession.

The African Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award also recognises an individual who has made significant contributions to the development of knowledge within the African philanthropy sector. This contribution may take the form of academic research, as well as non-academic methods such as storytelling, the establishment of processes, the formulation of policies and systems in philanthropic practices, and the creation of written works and reflective insights that offer valuable data and input for the sector.


The inaugural award was presented Akwasi Aidoo in recognition of his extensive work in advocating for human rights and peace. Akwasi is a philanthropy professional, human rights and peace advocate, and published poet. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow at Humanity United and was the Executive Director of TrustAfrica at its founding in 2006.

Over the last four decades, Akwasi’s career has centered on human rights and philanthropy in Africa. His previous roles include Head of the Health and Equity programme of the Canadian International Development Research Centre in West and Central Africa, Head of the Ford Foundation in Senegal and Nigeria, and Director of the Ford Foundation’s Special Initiative for Africa. Akwasi has taught at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, and the United States. He sits on the boards of several non-profit organisations which include Resource Alliance, Fund for Global Human Rights, Global Greengrants Fund, Open Society Institute for West Africa, and International Beliefs and Values Institute.


In 2022, the award was presented to H.E. Graça Machel in honour of her remarkable accomplishments and commitment to humanitarian efforts and social causes.  She is a stateswoman whose professional and public life is rooted in Mozambique’s struggle for self-rule and international advocacy for women and children’s rights. She is a former freedom fighter in Mozambique’s FRELIMO movement, co-founder and Deputy Chair of The Elders, Chairperson of the Mandela Institute of Development Studies (MINDS) and the founder of the Graça Machel Trust.

 In the years following her tenure in government, H.E. Mrs Machel produced a ground-breaking United Nations Children’s Fund report titled “The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, that changed the way the United Nations and member states respond in conflict zones”. Since then, she has worked tirelessly in support of global health, child welfare, and women’s rights and empowerment. She is the recipient of numerous global honours, such as 2018 World Health Organization Gold Medal and six honorary doctorates from universities on three continents.


The 2023 recipient was Gerry Salole who throughout his career has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to using his extensive experience and expertise to contribute to the advancement of a more equitable and sustainable world. His contributions have left a lasting impact on the philanthropic sector, making him a deserving recipient of this esteemed award.

 Gerry was the Chief Executive Officer of European Foundation Centre (now known as PHILEA). He served as the Director and Representative of the Ford Foundation’s Southern Africa Office and the Director of the Department of Programme Documentation and Communication at the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Gerry is the brain behind the formation of TrustAfrica and served as the founding chair of the TrustAfrica board.  He is a member of the Supervisory Board of the European Cultural Foundation, serves on the Advisory Board of the Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment and Unicredit Foundation. He is also on the International Advisory Council of Afrobarometer and a Strategic Advisor to the Africa Europe Foundation

About the award

The 2023 ceremony was the first with the newly designed award which was custom designed for the African Philanthropy Conference. Inspired by the Baobab tree, which is also known as the “Tree of Life”, the award visually represents longevity, a vital source of life-giving elements and a steady identity in the continent’s rich history. These are a few of the same qualities that the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement award represent which are now celebrated annually.