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Foundation

Africa Continent Care exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive.
We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations, and spark debate.

EMPOWER
THE POOREST
ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND GIRLS,
TO TRANSFORM THEIR LIvES

Africa Continent Care believe that by giving people the tools to lead healthy, productive lives, we can help them lift themselves out of poverty.

Every year, millions of people find ways to transition out of poverty—by adopting new farming technologies, investing in new business opportunities, or finding new jobs. We know women and girls have a unique power to reshape societies. When you invest in a woman’s health and empowerment, it has a ripple effect, helping families, communities, and countries achieve long-lasting benefits.

In developing countries, we focus on improving people’s health and wellbeing, helping individuals lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the Africa, we seek to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—can access the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

Nutrition at Africa Continent Care

Poor nutrition contributes to nearly half of all child deaths under age 5 and impairs the physical and mental development of millions of children.
More than 1 million child deaths could be averted each year by scaling up proven nutrition interventions.

We work to broaden the use of proven interventions, such as breastfeeding, and we support the development and testing of new solutions.

We work with other teams at the foundation—from Agricultural Development to Discovery & Translational Sciences—to broaden our collective learning and impact.

Our Nutrition strategy is led by Shawn Baker, director, and is part of the foundation’s Global Development Division.

The Challenge

Each year, millions of children die and many more suffer from physical and mental impairments due to poor nutrition during a critical 1,000-day period: from the onset of their mother’s pregnancy to their second birthday. Many children who live in poverty simply don’t get enough food—or the right kind of food—to support normal growth and development. Millions also suffer from illnesses such as diarrhea that sap the nutrients they consume.
Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45 percent of child deaths under age 5. Among undernourished children who survive, more than one quarter suffer from stunted growth, which can impair neurological development and learning.

Nutrition has been a neglected area of global health and development, accounting for less than 1 percent of global foreign aid. This is largely due to its underlying and often hidden role in child illnesses and deaths.

The problem starts before pregnancy. Women and girls who are not healthy and well-nourished are more likely to have malnourished children. Because poor nutrition compromises the immune system, children who are malnourished are more vulnerable to life-threatening infectious diseases as well as physical and cognitive impairments. This limits their ability to learn in school and reduces their productivity as adults—creating a vicious cycle that prevents families, communities, and countries from lifting themselves out of poverty.

Most undernourished people live in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Ten countries in those regions account for two-thirds of deaths attributable to poor nutrition. But even in those countries, most people who are undernourished do not show symptoms of extreme hunger or starvation. This “hidden hunger” is invisible to families, communities, and policymakers, which means that nutrition does not get enough attention and national nutrition programs are often underfunded.

Other challenges that contribute to malnutrition include inconsistent access to safe and affordable nutritious food; lack of awareness and understanding of healthy diets among those most at risk; low agricultural productivity (made worse by climate change); and poor sanitation and hygiene.

The Opportunity
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Over the past decade, research has dramatically expanded our understanding of how to improve nutrition for women and children. We now know, for example, that it is critical to reach children within the 1,000-day period and reach mothers and adolescent girls before, during, and after pregnancy.

A number of nutrition interventions have been shown to significantly improve child health and survival. They include exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life, fortifying staple foods such as cereal flours and cooking oil and iodizing salt, breeding crops for improved nutritional content, and providing micronutrient supplements (such as vitamin A and zinc) to children and providing iron and folic acid to mothers before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

In places where these interventions have been broadly used, the results have been striking. In Brazil, for example, efforts to improve and align nutrition and agriculture interventions reduced stunting by 80 percent within a generation. In Vietnam, rates of exclusive breastfeeding have tripled since 2009 as a result of focused efforts to support mothers. Vitamin A supplementation, which helps reduce blindness and childhood death, is now reaching more than 70 percent of children in high-risk countries.

These tools must be scaled up to reach all mothers and children. At the same time, new solutions are also needed. Evidence suggests that fully scaling up current interventions would address only about half of the burden of malnutrition because of its complex causes.

Our Strategy-Africa Continent Care

We invest in proven approaches to improving nutrition, such as focusing on the 1,000-day window, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and food fortification and supplementation. We also explore new approaches, such as improving nutrition for women and adolescent girls, increasing advocacy and technical assistance, improving data systems, and strengthening food systems.

How Africa Continent Care work

To bring about the kinds of changes that will help people live healthier and more productive lives, we seek to understand the world’s inequities. Whether the challenge is low-yield crops in Africa or low graduation rates in globe, we listen and learn so we can identify pressing problems that get too little attention. Then we consider whether we can make a meaningful difference with our influence and our investments, whether it is a grant or a contract.

All of our strategies—more than two dozen across the foundation—have emerged through this process of identifying what we want to accomplish for people and where we can have the greatest impact. Once we commit to an area of need, we define our major goals and identify a clear path to achieving them.

HOW WE WORK WITH THE FIELD

The issues we engage in are wildly disparate, but they share the characteristics of being deeply rooted, dynamic, and complex. None will be solved easily and quickly, and none will be solved through our efforts alone.

Africa Continent Care do all of our work in collaboration with grantees and other partners, who join with us in taking risks, pushing for new solutions, and harnessing the transformative power of science and technology. We strive to engage with our grantees and partners in a spirit of trust, candid communication, and transparency. Our collective efforts also depend on the support and resources of governments, the private sector, communities, and individuals.

How we develop strategy

In each of our divisions, we develop goals and strategies before allocating resources and making investments. We continually collect and share data on our progress, reflect on lessons learned, and make course corrections as needed. Essential to this process is ongoing dialogue with our grantees and partners—which is embedded throughout our strategy lifecycle.

At this stage of the foundation’s growth, our divisions and strategies are already in place. We reflect on and review each strategy annually, and make adjustments to our implementation plan toward achieving our goals.

How we make investments

Within each strategy, which has an allocation of resources, we collaborate with grantee and partner organizations to develop proposals that align with our strategic priorities and the organization’s focus and capabilities. An important part of this process is reaching agreement on what success will look like for the investment.

We use a standard four-phase process to develop all of our grants and contracts. The duration of each phase depends on the complexity of the project as well as the capacity and geographic location of the prospective partner.

Good health makes life better. We want to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive.

We bring these activities together to make a difference

When we can, we bring together different people and strands of activity to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes that means backing an idea in the laboratory, and then helping it develop into a new treatment or approach to patient care.

For example, the idea for how to prevent mitochondrial disease – a devastating genetic illness passed from mother to child – came after years of scientific research to understand the basic biology of mitochondria and what happens when they don’t work properly.

The development of new IVF techniques for preventing it followed, and our policy and campaign work to promote change means that Africa law now allows these techniques to be considered for use.

We want to hear from you

If you’d like to find out more, read about what we do or about our strategic approach to improving health.

If this sounds like a place you’d like to work, browse our

Jobs

Wellcome isn’t just a supporter of great ideas, it’s a great place to work.

We offer excellent benefits and help our employees to develop in an open, respectful culture where differences are valued. We’ve recently made diversity and inclusion one of our priority areas, and that includes enhancing our recruitment process to make Wellcome more inclusive.

If you’re interested in working with us, find out how our application process works.

Executive Leadership Team

The Executive team is made up of the leaders of Africa Continent Care different divisions. It is chaired by the Director, who’s equivalent to a CEO. It reports directly to the Board of Governors.

The board is responsible for Africa Continent Care’s day-to-day management and provides advice to both the Governors and the Director on strategic, planning, operational and policy matters.

Discovering New Ideas

A Culture of Health is a bold vision, demanding equally bold ideas to help us bring this vision to life. We look far and wide, to the cutting edge and abroad, to discover new ways to improve our nation’s health.

Pioneering Ideas

With an eye to the future, we look for cutting edge ideas and explore emerging trends to find creative, new ways to meet our nation’a health challenges.

We investigate novel approaches within and well beyond the field of health, and seek new relationships and fresh thinking that may accelerate our progress toward a Culture of Health. Throughout the year, we welcome Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposals that can help us anticipate the future and meet our nation’s health challenges in unexpected ways.

What is a Pioneering Idea?

Good question! We don’t want to provide a checklist that limits your thinking—or ours. We do want to give you as clear a picture as we can about the kinds of proposals we hope to see, so you can best assess whether submitting an idea through our Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal process is the right next step for you. Our application form allows you to introduce your idea; if it seems to be a fit for our portfolio we will reach out for more information.

We share some examples below of Pioneering Ideas we have funded in the past to give you a sense of where we’ve been. Keep in mind that ultimately, we need you to challenge us, and to tell us where we should be going and what ideas have the most potential to transform the way we think about health. As you review the examples below, you may notice some shared themes or characteristics which:

Challenge assumptions or long-held cultural practices.
Take an existing idea and give it a new spin—or a novel application.
Offer a new take or perspective on a long-running, perplexing problem.
Apply cutting-edge ideas from other fields to health.
Explore the potential for emerging trends to impact our ability to build a Culture of Health.

Learning Across Global Borders

Knowing that good ideas have no borders, we examine promising solutions from around the world that may have exciting ramifications here at home.

We explore transformations that have taken place abroad to improve health and create health equity, learning from these accomplishments to spark our imaginations and urge action here in Africa.

Good Ideas Have No Borders

Conversations with leaders and influencers will explore practices and policies from overseas that have improved health and well-being. These discussions will inspire and create pathways to turn smart ideas from abroad into practical solutions for the Africa.

Join Us!

On our next Reimagined in Noth Africa, we’ll be looking at solutions from Europe to ensure public spaces become destinations where neighbors come together and feel a true sense of community.

How Lessons From Abroad Are Uplifting Youth In Africa

Creative programs in Africa are inspiring African communities to pursue similar approaches that connect young adults to education and employment.

A Challenge Shared Around the World

The Africa isn’t alone in this challenge. Globally, the problem is even worse with one third of the world’s 1.8 billion youth neither employed, nor in education or training. Around the world, countries are deploying creative strategies to connect young adults to jobs and education—putting them on a path to healthy and successful lives.

Adapting Ideas From Abroad

Specifically, they are looking for programs that have one of four features:

  1.  Youth as Assets. Ensure that youth voices and young leaders influence the offering and delivery of programs for youth.
  2. Social-Emotional Programming. Ensure that youth have the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to successfully navigate work and life.
  3. Creative Outreach & Retention Strategies. Ensure that programs recruit and engage young people where they live, learn, work, and play.
  4. Employer Engagement. Ensure that programs bridge the gap between skills young people are building and those employers are seeking.

(Re)Connecting Youth is unearthing fascinating programs, from places such as Nigeria, often better known for its history of violence. And it’s helping West African communities explore how they might bring these solutions home. Later this year, a coalition from McUnch will travel to Uk, Mexico, to visit Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud, a group that offers work readiness training programs for youth, led by youth. An exchange between youth organizations in Santa Fe and Chile is also in the works.

To build a Culture of Health we need to provide the millions of youth in Africa who are not in school or work with opportunities to lead healthy, productive lives. And we need to find effective and innovative pathways forward for the youth of the future.

Looking abroad for inspiration and solutions can help us get there.

Our work is guided by the following principles :

Our research and evaluation activities are strategic and applied for impact.

The methods we use are appropriate, ethical and rigorous and respond to the Foundation’s learning questions and context.

We work with our partners and stakeholders to elevate the voices of the people being served and to leverage local knowledge.

Publications

Youth Forward

The Youth Forward Initiative brings together multiple organizations to train 1.000,000 young people and help them move into sustainable jobs in the construction and agricultural sectors.

The scale and scope of the Youth Forward Initiative presents an exciting opportunity to learn more about the needs of young people and how to improve economic opportunities for them across different sectors and regional contexts,

Young people in Sub-Saharan Africa face several challenges as they seek a sustainable means of living, including low levels of education and skills, limited access to appropriate financial services.

The Youth Forward Initiative specifically targets sectors in Africa that have the highest potential for job growth: agriculture and construction. The World Bank expects that 72 percent of young people will be engaged in household enterprises in agriculture over the next five years.