Ending the Colonial Mindset When Philanthropy Crosses Borders

This nonprofit shows foundations that their support isn’t about exporting some scarce resource – it’s about unleashing a community’s own plentiful potential.

An InteRoots building project in Kasasa, Uganda (Photo courtesy of InteRoots)

What is colonist philanthropy?

The inclination to send resources such as new technology across borders and “save” people — by making their lives look more like your own — is one example. 

The founders of InteRoots say they’ve seen too many examples of toxic relationships with philanthropy. That’s why they’re innovating the grant-making process to center communities, which identify problems and drive the solutions.

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with correspondent Cinnamon Janzer about her reporting on InteRoots and what it looks like to decolonize philanthropy. We also meet founders M. Scott Frank, the group’s executive director, and Ronald Kibirige, chair of InteRoots’ board. 

“It’s this mentality that something needs to be brought to a place and that the answer always exists within the colonizer's framework,” Frank says. “You're always looking to the people who created the problem, in a lot of cases, to be the answer.”

“From the Ugandan perspective, for example, where I'm coming from — or from my own point of view, as far as this is concerned — having a colonial mindset is always looking to the colonial masters or the previous colonial masters for all the support.”

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple or Spotify.

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