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George Soros began his philanthropic work in Africa in 1979. Today, the Open Society Foundations have a network of foundations and offices across the continent, working on democratic governance, economic advancement, and a host of other issues.

Offices and Foundations

Kampala, Uganda

The Kampala office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The Dar-es-Salaam office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.

Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Freetown office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Abuja, Nigeria

The Abuja office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Monrovia, Liberia

The Monrovia office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Conakry, Guinea

The Conarky office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Kinshasa office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

Luanda, Angola

The Luanda office serves as a satellite for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa

Dakar, Senegal

Nairobi, Kenya

By the Numbers

$125.7M 2020 budget for Africa
10.4% Percentage of global budget
7.2% Average annual change in budget since 2016

Regional Budget by Year

Explore our full budget by theme and region

Our History

George Soros began his philanthropy in South Africa, giving scholarships to black South African students in 1979. The Foundations’ work in Africa has expanded dramatically since then, and notably provided support to a range of civil society groups that helped drive a wave of democratic change starting in the 1990s.

With the end of apartheid, we opened our national foundation in South Africa in 1993, followed by our first African regional foundation—the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa—in 1997. Our Open Society Initiative for West Africa, based in Dakar, followed in 2000. The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa opened its doors in Nairobi in 2005, after Kenya held multiparty elections in 2002. We also established an office in Tunisia in 2014. 

Highlights of Our Work in Africa

Our Work

Under coordination by our Africa Regional Office, our network of regional and national foundations in Africa works on many of the essential issues facing the continent.

A paralegal stands with his bicycle on a road near Kampala, Uganda, in June 2013. © Sven Torfinn/Panos for the Open Society Foundations

Responding to COVID-19

A woman whose son was killed by police raises her fist in protest against police brutality, in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 5, 2020. © Patrick Meinhardt/AFP/Getty

Our four regional foundations across the continent have been supporting a range of responses to the pandemic, including efforts to raise public awareness about the risks of the virus and support for steps to mitigate its impact—particularly on vulnerable communities, women, and children. Our grantees continue to speak out against the excessive use of sometimes deadly force by police who are enforcing closure orders and to push for the release of nonviolent prisoners at risk in overcrowded prisons and jails. Our advocacy has focused on the need to ensure that expected new treatments and vaccines developed to combat the virus are equally available to all and in all countries.

Health and Rights

Paralegals meet with a family to discuss their rights, on May 14, 2013. © Sven Torfinn/Panos for the Open Society Foundations

In the ongoing battle against HIV and AIDS and other diseases in Africa, our work has focused on ensuring that those affected by illness can get access to the health care and support they need and be treated with respect. Our Public Health Program has supported legal groups that ensure access to public support for people facing life-threatening illnesses, and deal with issues such as land-ownership succession in a way that gives security to the families of people suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Open Society also responded to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa with an emergency $4 million grant to fund the building of treatment facilities.  

Democracy and Accountability

Observers for the National Election Watch at work in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on November 16, 2012. © Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty

Beginning in Kenya, South Africa—and then expanding to additional countries—we supported “citizen audit” programs, where local groups use publicly available information on government contracts and plans to check on whether the promised goods and services—from schools to lavatories—were actually built, and to what standards. These efforts add to our work with governments across Africa to develop freedom of information laws and institutions that give ordinary people information about government decision-making and budgets. Our support for democratic engagement in West Africa has included the creation of a web-based “situation room” that supports election monitoring efforts by independent civil society groups.  


Students assemble in a WeCare Library in ​downtown Monrovia, Liberia. © Andrea Bruce/NOOR for the Open Society Foundations

Across Africa, we support efforts to promote early childhood education, which can play a powerful role in supporting young children’s future education and healthy development. Our Early Childhood Program has worked in Liberia since 2007, helping the government build a national early childhood development system that includes a national curriculum and training systems for teachers. Our program also offers support to colleges and universities, and works to support access to education for all. 

Fighting Discrimination

Our Human Rights Initiative is engaged in supporting groups across Africa who face discrimination and sometimes violence because of who they are or how they live. This includes an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the experiences of Africans with albinism, as well as our long-standing support for equal treatment of LGBTI people. The Open Society Foundations also advocate for the resolution of nationality issues that leave many Africans stateless—an issue that can fuel ethnic division and tensions.

The owner of a landscaping and gardening business, who has albinism, and one his employees, at work in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2018. © Sven Torfinn/Panos for the Open Society Foundations

Drug Policy Reform

Our Global Drug Policy Program is actively engaged in legal reform in Africa that promotes a decriminalized approach focused on public health and human rights, rather than prohibition and punishment. In South Africa, we support volunteer networks working toward an official and legal end to the aerial spraying of glyphosates over cannabis farms, in a country where 26 million people (half the population) use traditional medicine that relies heavily on cannabis use in various forms, and has recently decriminalized the use and growth of cannabis for private consumption. 

A brother is comforted by his sister as he enrolls in a methadone program in Mombasa, Kenya. © Roopa Gogineni for the Open Society Foundations

Economic Advancement

Our Economic Justice Program is involved in a range of work in Africa, from investing in infrastructure to supporting smallholder farmers in Ghana, to backing social entrepreneurship initiatives. The program’s work includes supporting efforts to promote women’s participation in the economy using nontraditional business models.

A woman participating in a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 19, 2018. © Marc Shoul/Panos for the Open Society Foundations

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