Gatsby Africa

Gatsby Africa (GA) is a private foundation set up by Lord David Sainsbury, with a long history of engaging in East Africa across government, business and society. The organisation is committed to helping build stronger and more inclusive economies through the transformation of sectors that have the potential for inclusive and competitive growth over the long-term. Gatsby currently works in 6 sectors across East Africa, namely Commercial Forestry, Aquaculture, Textiles and Apparel, Livestock, Agricultural Inputs and Water.

GA believes that, if successfully transformed, these sectors are capable of inspiring a step change in a country’s growth, generating significant gains in jobs and incomes.

Approach to Private Sector Development

Gatsby Africa’s approach is founded on global insights, as well as experience from 30+ years of working in East Africa. These learnings have led us to believe that inclusive and sustained economic growth can be achieved if the following three criteria are met:

Competitiveness: Firms compete in target markets by raising productivity, efficiency, and quality, and innovating to develop new products or ways of working.

Inclusiveness: Sector growth generates economic opportunities at scale while reducing inequality and removing barriers to participation.

Resilience: Sectors can adapt and evolve to overcome new challenges and create new opportunities, maintaining competitiveness and inclusiveness.

How Gatsby Africa works

Stemming from its history, learning and experience, Gatsby Africa recognises a set of ways in which it must work if it is to meet the immense scale and challenges of sector transformation.

Acting as a partner to governments: GA works hand-in-hand with governments across the region, supporting their agenda for development and helping them to prioritise and coordinate public investments or policy initiatives, enabling them to play their central role in transforming sectors.

Setting a bold vision: GA works with government and sector actors to set an ambitious but realistic vision of what the sector could become, informed by lessons from other countries as well as in-depth analysis of the big opportunities for growth.

Ensuring long-term commitment: GA is able to define its own strategic priorities and, in doing so, can help in tackling immediate constraints, building momentum to show that transformation is possible, while recognising that large scale and sustainable impact takes time and needs long-term targeted efforts.

Holding a systemic and politically aware approach: GA seeks to understand the whole system, its interdependencies, and the underlying political economy in order to support changes that are feasible, sustainable and dynamic.

Undertaking a commercial mindset: GA knows that growth requires investment in businesses and that it is businesses that provide employment and serve markets. The organisation therefore focuses on supporting business capabilities and best practices, enabling investment in innovation and growth.

Pragmatically learn and adapt: GA recognises the need to work in dynamic, complex environments and therefore the need to take risks, and learn from failures in order to deliver ambitious levels of transformation.

Applying a flexible ‘toolkit’: GA has the flexibility to use a range of approaches and tactics. This ranges from supporting research and information sharing, to piloting new business models, to facilitating investment, technology and skills transfer; and even investing in businesses when this is required.

Working in Partnership

Gatsby Africa has an empowering mandate from David Sainsbury to take a long-term approach, innovate, and share learning. Central to this mandate is the recognition that GA cannot address sector transformation as a lone entity – that is why partnerships are central to achieving its mission. Through working in partnership, there are increased opportunities to help sectors compete globally and change millions of people’s lives through the provision of quality employment.

What we bring to partnerships:

Political and business networks: GA has developed high-level networks and strong relationships across East Africa after 30+ years’ operating in the region. Being a private foundation, GA can take an independent, neutral position.

Implementing experience and innovation: With heavy investment in its teams and their capabilities, GA learns by doing and testing new solutions to stubborn problems.

Research and sharing knowledge: GA invests heavily in research and learning both across its portfolio and internationally. The organisation also partners with leading thinkers and learning institutes.

Funding: GA funds its own programmes and seeks co-finance from partners in order to scale programmatic work.

Learning: Learning is central to GA’s mission – bringing in global experience to inform sector programmes, gathering robust evidence and data on what is working and adapting its activities in light of this evidence.

For more information on Gatsby Africa and partnership opportunities, please visit the our website.

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