Our approach

Big Win Philanthropy partners with visionary African leaders to achieve transformational change for their countries by investing in three key areas essential to economic growth:

Brain Development
The development of a child’s brain provides the foundation for their success later in life. A large proportion of children across sub-Saharan Africa suffer impaired brain development because of key factors including: undernutrition, insufficient care and stimulation from care-givers, and the experiencing or witnessing of violence. We support leaders to address these factors and help ensure that children can realize their potential.

Education for Productivity
10-12 million African youth enter the workforce every year, many without the skills they need to find meaningful employment. Better education is essential for developing the qualities and skills young people need to become more productive – both in terms of their own quality of life and their contribution to national economic growth. We support leaders to improve the quality of education and make it more relevant to the realities of a changing workforce.

Youth Employment
Africa’s youth population is expected to double by 2050. Now is the time for strategic investments to create quality employment opportunities on a massive scale for this emerging new generation. We support leaders to create meaningful employment opportunities that provide livable wages, are sustainable, and can absorb a range of skills, and to make investments to ensure that young people are employment-ready.

Transformative leadership

We also help foster the transformative leadership needed to make progress in these areas. Through the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, Big Win convenes ministers focused on human capital development – including health, education, finance, and planning ministers – for an intensive week envisioning big wins and exploring the political navigation, effective implementation, and multi-sector collaboration that would be required to achieve them.

How we partner

We believe that in order for transformational change to be achieved and sustained, it must be government-led and government-owned. We partner with leaders with the ambition and commitment to improve the lives of young people and the economic trajectories of their countries and to set precedent beyond their own borders.

How we select partners and prioritize investments:

  • We work with public-sector leaders with credible, robust, evidence-sound country-led agendas for developing human capital within their countries.
  • We prioritize investments based on alignment with our mission, potential to scale impact, and ability to add value.
  • We only work in countries where our support has been directly requested by the government.

How we support our partners:

  • We help advance the human development interventions that the cabinet and the country leadership prioritize as most critical to the future progress of their people and nation.
  • We make catalytic investments – often in the form of direct budget support – to enable leaders in building the capacity and systems needed to deliver on their vision.
  • We provide technical support, assisting leaders in conceptualizing, planning, funding, implementing, and evaluating innovative and transformational policies.
  • We help our partners navigate the political environment, providing support with communications, branding, stakeholder engagement, and constituency building, among other areas.
  • We support smart delegation of resources and implementation management through independent baseline assessments and audits.
  • We are committed to being responsive, working quickly to resolve emerging obstacles or leverage opportunities for greater impact as we pursue the broader strategic path.
  • We foster an environment where likeminded funders are able to support governments to achieve their priorities more effectively.

What we don’t do:

  • We don’t make one-off programmatic investments that aren’t part of a larger human capital development agenda.
  • We don’t dictate tactics. Instead, we support government-led approaches that clearly articulate the impact they will have for children and young people.
  • We don’t support programs that circumvent governments or work contrary to their objectives.
  • We rarely provide “brick and mortar” support, focusing instead on building delivery capacity.

Principles and themes

Our work is guided by a number of principles and themes:

Commitment to human development. We see children and young people as providing the underlying potential for sustainable economic growth. We support leaders to make smart, long-term investments to realize this potential, rather than focusing on short-term fixes.

Respect for government leadership. While a range of actors have important roles to play in human capital development, governments are ultimately the stewards of a nation’s people. We support the vision and ambition of political leaders in developing countries and align our support with their development priorities, including support for leadership capacity-building.

Cross-ministerial collaboration. Most major social challenges require cross-sector solutions to optimize efficiency and impact. We support collaboration between different government ministries, and we seek to forge partnerships between government, business and civil society.

Support for implementation. We believe that execution and delivery are just as important as policy and deserve equal attention and prestige. We support leaders to see their programs through to quality implementation.

Long-term vision. Major social shifts and demographic trends are often neglected in the context of short-term political cycles. We support leaders with the integrity to care as much about societal progress as political gains.

Ambitious and scalable solutions. We seize opportunities that are strategic, scalable and have relevance beyond a specific project to be game-changing.

Evidence-led approaches. We support leaders in utilizing data to inform their priorities, refine program design, monitor outcomes, improve cost-effectiveness, measure impact and challenge orthodoxy.