Capacity Building


In recent times, funders have recognised the significance of enhancing the organisational capacity of their grantees. The new thinking behind this is that it is effective organisations, which are better placed to fulfill their mission and maximize their human and financial resources. Therefore, investing in the organisational capacity of grantees is increasingly seen as critical to achieving required results. In addition to providing grants, AWDF is keen to support the work of grantee partners through our Capacity Building Unit.



The ability of an organisation to make an impact on its chosen area of work depends largely on how it can manage its internal and external dynamics of growth and development. This covers areas such as an organisation’s structure, staff development, governance, management, financial management, administrative systems, evaluation mechanisms, networking capacities and fundraising opportunities. These areas of work can be challenging to all organizations, however, African women’s organisations work in an environment which makes their work even more challenging – political uncertainty, economic decline, conflict, dealing with the impact of HIV/AIDS and the rising tide of religious and political conservatism.
As the spaces within which civil society organisations operate become more difficult to navigate, it becomes increasingly important to have viable organisations with effective leadership. Civil society organisations also serve as a strong recruitment ground for future leaders. Women’s organisations in particular have the potential to produce well-grounded leaders, through their many awareness


CEO's Forum in Kampala

raising, self-esteem, inter-generational and capacity building programs. If these organisations are weak, the opportunities are wasted. Different organizations have varied approaches to issues of capacity building, the ultimate aim of which has always been to build the capacities of organizations so as to maximize social impact. Therefore, capacity building is necessary for women’s organisations to ensure that they are able to achieve their goals and visions.
The AWDF Capacity Building Unit supports the works of AWDF grantee organizations that are related to any of the thematic areas as specified above to enable them enhance their institutional capacity. This is done through a variety of strategies such as:


AWDF awards grants to current grantees specifically for capacity building.  Occasionally capacity building grants may be awarded to new grantees but current AWDF partners are given priority. AWDF’s capacity building grants can be used for programs or activities which will enable the grantee build capacity in a particular area or acquire needed skills. Examples include grants for board and staff development, strategic planning, financial management, transition planning, developing fundraising and communication strategies, program evaluations and documenting organizational experiences.
Examples of organisations that have benefited from the capacity building grants are:
The Ark Foundation, Ghana, awarded a grant of US$100,000



For a two year period for organizational development, institutional support and capacity building of staff. The grant will be used for staff remuneration, office equipment and maintenance costs and to engage a consultant to design and implement a communication strategy for the organization for its public and policy advocacy campaign programme.
SWAA International, Senegal, awarded a grant of US$45,000
To carry out an organizational development process and to pay for the salary and administrative cost of the programs and communication manager for one year.
Project Alert, Nigeria, awarded a grant of US$30,000
To organize capacity building trainings for faith based organizations in Lagos states of Nigeria aimed at sensitizing them on the prevalence of gender based violence and to equip them with appropriate skills to effectively respond to these crimes. In this project IEC materials and a marriage guide for married and intending couples will also be developed for churches and mosque to sensitise them on their human rights.
Baraza La Wanawake La Amani, Kenya, awarded a grant of US$10,000
The grant is for one year staff salary, payment of one year office rent and purchase of a printer for the office.


There are some grantees who require specialist support to help them review complex projects, conduct evaluations, expand existing activities, etc. The CBU is manned by three specialist staff who provide direct advisory support to new and existing grantees on issues ranging from proposal development, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, communication and knowledge management. Aside this, the CBU has a referral system to enable grantees access the services of qualified persons who can assist, and whose services can be paid for with a capacity building grant.
AWDF has established a pool of resource persons across Africa who provide diverse services to grantees and other women’s right organizations on diverse issues. Some of these experts are:
Hope Chigudu (Zimbabwe/ Uganda)
Dr Sylvia Tamale (Uganda)
Dr Ayesha Imam (Nigeria/ Senegal)
Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin (Ghana)
Muthoni Wanyeki (Kenya)
Jeannette Eno (Sierra Leone)
Additionally, the CBU has established an on-line English Database of fifty African women experts with backgrounds including women’s human rights, peace building, economics, political participation, communication, HIV&AIDS and women’s reproductive health rights among others. The aim of this activity is to develop a resource base of women’s experts to enhance the work of the women’s movement and to fill the information gap in African women experts in development. Detailed profiles of these experts and contact links can be accessed from

A critical need for African women’s organisations is to learn from each other and share skills and expertise. AWDF wants to encourage a culture of partnerships and collaborations within the women’s movement in Africa, and we see this as an important capacity building tool. Through our Solidarity Fund, AWDF provides grants specifically for learning and exchanges. For example, if a women’s organisation in Ghana wants to know how to develop a project to support women in politics in Ghana, they can work with a group of women in Zimbabwe who have set up a Parliamentary Support Unit for Women in Parliament.


AWDF occasionally runs skills building training workshops for women’s organizations. Examples include:
International Women’s Summit; Women’s Leadership Summit on HIV&AIDS, July 2007
In July 2007, AWDF convened a meeting with its grantees working on HIV/AIDS in Kenya as part of its activities for the YWCA International Summit on HIV/AIDS. The meeting was to assess the current challenges affecting women’s organisations that support those living with HIV and AIDS and how AWDF can best assist them in their efforts.
Monitoring and Evaluation workshop, Ghana, 2007
AWDF convened a skills building workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation for 30 representatives of grantee organisations at national and regional levels in September 2007. The purpose was to share the tool developed by the Women’s Funding Network to capture the impact of social change as they occur through the works of the organisations. This in turn is to strengthen our capacities to ‘tell our stories’ of the change that women’s rights initiatives generate to improve the quality of life of their constituencies.
Where is the money for women’s rights in Africa? South Africa, November, 2007.
In November 2007, AWDF in collaboration with ActionAid International, Urgent Action Fund-Africa and the International Network of Women’s Funds convened a resource mobilisation strategy meeting for grantee organisations and partners from across Africa. The Johannesburg meeting provided a space for discussion, analysis, skills-building and visioning among African women’s rights activists, organizations and donors on resource mobilization for stronger and more sustainable African women’s rights movements.
GIMPA Certificate Course, Ghana, September, 2008
AWDF, in collaboration with Resource Alliance has successfully negotiated the establishment of a resource mobilisation course at the Greenhill Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). The GIMPA/Resource Alliance course started in September 2008. The goal of the course is to equip participants with critical knowledge and skills which will result in a significant increase in the effectiveness of their fundraising and resource mobilisation.


AWDF organizes thematic convenings with grantees, potential grantees and donors to learn new trends, deepen its understanding and publicise its work on specific thematic areas. Examples of these convenings are:

Women’s Political Participation and Transformational Leadership, South Africa, November, 2008

At the 11th Association of Women in Development (AWID) Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa, AWDF organized a pre-AWID workshop on women’s political participation and transformational leadership to assess women’s participation in political processes at local, national and regional levels with a view of developing strategies to deal with challenges and barriers facing women in politics and strengthening qualitative and quantitative participation of women at all levels. Participants at this convening ranged from grantees, potential grantees, politicians, partners and donors.

Africa Women’s Regional Consultation on Aid Effectiveness, Kenya, May, 2008.

AWDF joined forces with others in May to convene women’s rights organisations to deliberate in the processes leading up to the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra in 2008. The idea was to create a regional position on the Paris Declaration and to present the interests of African women in a systematised and strategic way. This included a TOT in Nairobi in February 2008, together with providing funding for an international convening of women’s rights groups before the Forum in September 2008.

Movement Building for Women Living with HIV/AIDS in West Africa, Sierra Leone, May, 2008

In May 2008, AWDF linked up with ActionAid International to mobilise women living with HIV/AIDS in 7 countries in West Africa. The objectives of the forum was to strengthen the leadership, organization and strategies of women living with HIV to make African women’s voices and demands, visible and influential in policymaking at all levels.


AWDF has an active knowledge management, communication and production project which coordinates learning from programmes within the women’s movement and its donor networks. The core focus of the KM&P is systematic generation of information, sharing and learning. Under this project AWDF has commissioned a number of research papers and publications. Examples of these publications include position and research papers such as:

African Feminist Forum Position on the New UN Entity for Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment

Financing for Development

Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists.

The African Union: Opportunities for African Women

Women’s Empowerment in Peace Building: “A Platform for Involvement in Decision Making” “Women and Peace Building”.

AWDF has also published various fact sheets on the organisation’s six thematic areas.

In order to build and sustain a body of knowledge generated by the African women’s movement and to improve and strengthen its activities, AWDF has a well furnished resource centre open to the general public. The centre is furnished with literature on current development issues with a focus on women’s rights activities in general.


AWDF’s Capacity Building Unit has been supported by the following donors:

African Capacity Building Foundation
Comic Relief (UK)
The Ford Foundation
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dutch MDG3 Fund
The Mertz Gilmore Foundation (USA)
Sigrid Rausing Trust

For further information on the Capacity Building Unit please contact:
The Program Officer, Capacity Building Unit
African Women’s Development Fund
AWDF House, Plot 78
Ambassadorial Enclave
East Legon, Accra, Ghana.
PMB CT 89, Cantonments, Accra.
Tel/Fax: +233 21 521257