A very, very brief recap by Sylvia K. Ilahuka, Writer & Editor
July came and went and our highly-anticipated Annual General Meeting finally happened! Several months of preparation and three days of activity are best summarized by these three words: It. Was. Awesome. The city of Kigali saw over 600 people convene in the name of transforming how change happens in Africa, representing organizations from all parts of the philanthropy universe. There was something for doers, something for donors, and even more things for everyone. The tone of the gathering was particularly triumphant against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw the last AGM being held three years ago. For many of our partners and even some team members, this was their first experience of a Segal Family Foundation Annual Meeting.
The days preceding the main event were dedicated to our African Visionary Fellows, as well as our first-ever Donor Salon. For the AVFers, this was a chance to connect within and across cohorts — and to celebrate the end of active fellowship for those cohorts whose completion ceremonies were intercepted by the pandemic. And so on the evening of Tuesday 11 July, the Fellows of 2020, 2021, and 2022 cohorts were celebrated over dinner. While the rockstars were convening amongst themselves, we held space for donors to also get together. Through a variety of sessions addressing topics pertinent to those on the giving end of the philanthropic spectrum, funders had a chance to speak freely to one another and exchange thoughts. The donor salon is still a fairly novel concept, but one whose importance is increasingly becoming acknowledged as interest in meaningful philanthropy expands.
Thursday 13th July heralded the official opening plenary of the 2023 Annual Meeting, graced by the First Lady of Rwanda Mrs. Jeanette Kagame who noted that Segal Family Foundation’s “connecting of donors and doers has nurtured countless dreams across the continent and transformed them into tangible realities.” (At another time during the week, President Kagame held discussions with some Segal Family Foundation leadership as well.) The opening plenary, co-emceed by Isabelle Kamariza of Solid’Africa and Jean Michel Habineza of iDebate Rwanda, then gave way to breakout sessions revolving around connections, cash, and culture. Over the two days, some attendees expressed appreciation that #Segal2023 “[wasn’t] like a normal conference where you’re stuck in boring sessions and trying to dodge people;” others remarked that it was “the best conference [they] have ever been to!” We agree, though we may be biased. It was important to us that participants had ample time to meet outside structured sessions, so spaces were carved out specifically for connecting with one another. We put emphasis on this by providing a comfortable tent dedicated to networking, not overdoing it with the breakouts, and by pre-orchestrating meetings between people we thought should absolutely meet one another — curated connections, as we call them. Because events like these can take a lot out of attendees, we also offered unwinding activities at the end of the first day: wellness, karaoke, dancing, and a film screening, all led by some of our grantee partners.
On the last evening of the annual meeting, following more networking and structured conversations, it was finally time to get glam and get down. Delegates dressed to the nines and converged once more for a grand celebration of this year’s award winners—GGEM Farming, Foi en Action, Sheria Kiganjani, Kesho Kenya, and Mukisa Foundation—at a dinner gala co-emceed by Nasser Diallo of Clinic+O. The evening began with a majestic Burundian ingoma performance punctuated by breathtaking displays of athleticism from the drumming troupe, and ended with more dancing — this time by the attendees themselves. In between, awards were presented to much jubilation from the audience and especially the awardees’ countrymates: the Malawian contingent broke out in song, the Burundians erupted in cheers, the Tanzanians ululated with pride, the Kenyan crew chanted exuberantly, and the Ugandans led a standing ovation. One aspect that makes Segal Family Foundation unique is the abundance of excellent local (and often small) organizations among our partners; the Awards Gala is particularly special because it is a chance to honor the outstanding leaders of these organizations that often aren’t (yet) well recognized on the global stage. So here’s to this, the tenth Annual Meeting; we’re already looking forward to the next one, and the next ten.
See more pictures, videos, and conversations about our recent annual general meeting via the hashtag #Segal2023 on social media!