For personal or spiritual reasons, plenty of charitable individuals in Africa never publicize their philanthropic acts. And while we can’t sing their praises, we can recognize the following African philanthropists, featured on Forbes.com, who have been open about donating $1 million or more in 2012 to causes including Nigerian flood relief, scholarships and health care.
Aliko Dangote, Nigeria
President, Dangote Group
Dangote has given roughly $35 million to African causes: the Nigerien flood relief in 2012 ($15.8 million); a non-governmental organization dedicated to developing low-cost housing for Nigeria’s poor in urban areas ($12.6 million); six Nigerian universities ($6.3 million) including a $3.1-million gift to fund the development of the Bayero State University Business School in Kano; and victims of a munitions blast in Congo ($500,000).
Jim Ovia, Nigeria
Founder, Zenith Bank
Ovia was moved to donate to Nigerian flood relief, giving $6.3 million to the cause and helping rehabilitate the victims of several Nigerian floods in 2012. Ovia’s foundation, Youth Empowerment & ICT Foundation, works to get Nigerian youth interested in information and communication technology in order to spur socio-economic reform. It recently gave $320,000 to 10 young Nigerian technopreneurs to help them build their businesses.
Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe
Founder, Econet Wireless
Zimbabwe’s richest man received an honorary doctorate from Atlanta’s Morehouse College for philanthropic and humanitarian work in several African countries. At the ceremony for the doctorate, Masiyiwa pledged to fund tuition for 10 African students to attend Morehouse, and in 2012 exceeded his promise by establishing a $6.4-million trust to fund the tuition of 40 students. Masiyiwa is also a financier of Capernaum Trust, a Christian charity that sponsors scholarships and medical assistance for orphans in Zimbabwe.
Tony Elumelu, Nigeria
Chairman, Heirs Holdings
The same government efforts in the Nigerian flood relief that caught the attention of Ovia and Dangote also moved Elumelu. The Nigerian banker donated $6.3 million to the cause. The money came out of his own Tony Elumelu Foundation, which works primarily to encourage the growth of Africa’s private sector by training young African entrepreneurs.
Arthur Eze, Nigeria
Chairman, Atlas Oranto Petroleum
Not much is known about Eze except that his money comes from oil. He’s the founder and chairman of a West African exploration company that owns oil and gas assets in several African countries. Eze donated $6.3 million to Nigerian flood relief in 2012, plus he regularly donates large sums to Nigerian public universities.
Mike Adenuga, Nigeria
Adenuga is the second-richest man in Nigeria and founder of the Mike Adenuga Foundation, a rather private organization that doesn’t go on record often about its works. Nonetheless, Adenuga publicly donated $3.2 million to flood victims in Bayelsa state in 2012.
Naushad Merali, Kenya
Chairman, Sameer Group
Thanks to a donation of $1.2 million from Merali, Kenyatta National Hospital received a full-service day care medical center. The money came through Merali’s Zarina & Naushad Merali Foundation and helped build a 24-bed center that will provide same-day minor surgical services for walk-in patients who don’t need to stay the night at the hospital. The center will feature four main operating theaters and two minor operating theaters.
Manu Chandaria, Kenya
Chairman, Comcraft Group
In December 2012, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi received a $1.2 million donation from Chandaria. The funds, originally meant to improve intensive care and diagnostic services, will be used for construction and installation of equipment in a renovated facility to be named The Chandaria Medical Centre.
Ashish J. Thakkar, Uganda
CEO, Mara Group
Thakkar recently put $1 million into the Mara Foundation, an organization that sponsors renovations for high schools in Uganda, funds workshops for teachers across East Africa and provides scholarships to East African students who can’t afford schooling. The foundation also offers free mentoring programs to startup entrepreneurs.
Francios Van Niekerk, South Africa
Founder, Mertech Group
In a true act of altruism, Van Niekerk gave away 70 percent of his equity in his company with donations totaling around $170 million. The funds were directed into the Mergon Foundation, which Van Niekerk and his wife founded to help sponsor HIV/AIDS patients. Funds also paid for educational needs of pre-primary kids and recycling projects for South African youth.