Please note: There is currently no round of the alumni small grants available. Any future rounds will be announced here and, on the Africa Connect Facebook group.
Australia Awards established the Small Grants Scheme to provide direct financial support to alumni development groups or Communities of Practice (COPs). Since 2017 Australia Awards–Africa funded 41 small grant projects in three rounds to the value of more than $380,000.
Most of the grant projects address community challenges, contribute to skills transfer through agriculture, extractives or infrastructure-related initiatives or promote gender and socially inclusive practices for women, youth and rural communities. The grants often contribute to innovative research, improved technology and capacity building of people. Not only do the alumni small grants assist the project beneficiaries, but they also establish numerous collaborations between alumni and other organisations and institutions and even across African countries.
Read more about the impact and establishment of networks and collaborations and watch videos about some of the development projects funded by the Small Grants Scheme.
A 2019 assessment of small grant outcomes suggested more than 3400 people (of which two-thirds were women) across eight countries benefitted from only 20 grants at the time. The seven most prominent areas of impact were the enhancement of knowledge and skills, the improvement of farming practices and technology, knowledge transfer between alumni and other experts and communities, policy enhancements and gender and social inclusion matters.
Collaboration and networks
Alumni initiate the small grant projects to make a difference in their communities through knowledge and skills transfer, research and policy enhancements. The small grantees use their networks to contribute to development outcomes in their countries. Examples from previous rounds include three agriculture projects that were completed in partnership with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO). Two of the projects engaged KALRO on crop research (root and legume) to improve farming practices, while the third linked farmers directly with KALRO on a vegetable demonstration site.
Cross-country collaborations also happen. Alumni from Cameroon, Tanzania and Zambia implemented a grant project about indigenous knowledge and practices of communities to complement scientific data on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the three countries. Alumni from Mozambique, Ghana and Zimbabwe implemented another project on ecological approaches to improve productivity, household food and nutrition security in Mozambique.
Sometimes grantees rely on their fellow alumni to implement projects. An example is a project in Cameroon where alumni developed training modules based on their Australian experiences of managing diversity and ethics, ergonomics and environmental preservation.
Alumni associations often collaborate with grantees on projects. For instance, the Nigerian alumni association members were project partners in the public-private infrastructure and small ruminant small projects. They participated in launches, sensitisation campaigns and capacity building workshops. In South Africa, a small grants project delivered a youth development education project in partnership with the Australia-South Africa Alumni Association (ASAAA).
Alumni links with government departments are fundamental as alumni leverage off their employment networks in key ministries to support their small grant project activities. For example, in Kenya, the Panpads Project aimed at promoting inclusive education for girls collaborated with women representatives of parliament.
Alumni also use community networks and collaborate with development agencies, non-profit organisations and volunteers. An agriculture project in Nigeria collaborated with a farmer’s cooperative and a Tanzanian gender equality project worked with Action Aid and the Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) to enhance its project delivery.