UHAI EASHRI is Africa’s first indigenous activist fund supporting sexual and gender minorities and sex worker human rights. We have funded critical court challenges that overturned repressive laws, resourced pioneering community-led HIV clinics, and supported communities to document their lives, organising and advocacy.
Established in 2009, and based in Nairobi, we fund activist organising in 7 Eastern African countries—Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda—and Pan-African organisations working across the continent.
From funding to capacity building to research to convening, we support efforts that build knowledge, effectiveness, accountability, sustainability, and integrity in our communities.
What sets us apart?
We are led and determined by the activists who live local human rights struggles every day. In this way, local activists do not simply benefit from our grants, but also decide our grants.
A 2007 conference brought together local sexual and gender minorities and sex worker activists and funders, who recognised irreconcilable differences between the Western-influenced world of money and the world of work in the region.
To counteract this trend, the convening recommended a new fund be created, managed by local activists to bridge the disconnect between funding and work, and which would continue to encourage dialogue on activism and funding in Africa. From this critical first step, we haven’t looked back.
To be an innovative, accessible, inclusive and responsive activist-led fund working to achieve equality, dignity and justice for sexual and gender minorities and sex workers across Eastern Africa, while also being actively involved in Pan-African movements.
To Live and Embody Revolutionary Love.
We do not simply support the field of Eastern Africa’s sexual and gender minorities and sex worker human rights—we are the field. Our staff, Board and peer grants committee are drawn from the movements we support, and so the expertise and knowledge of our movements shapes and drives our contributions.
In our grantmaking, capacity support, research and convening, we create opportunities for grantee partners to collaborate and form strong, lasting alliances.
A first fund of our kind in Africa, UHAI has been part of a consortium of funders and West African activists that implemented research to inform the need to initiate a similar local sexual and gender minorities activist fund, Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (ISDAO), that we now host.
Our participatory grantmaking approach is important to us because it:
Meaningful participation in grantmaking promotes diversity and inclusion by ensuring all constituent communities are at the decision-making table, and hence bears openness that fosters respect for grants decisions. Finally, the process grows the professional and fundraising expertise of involved activists.
Participatory grantmaking is changing the face of philanthropy and being scaled globally. UHAI is part of a core group of international participatory grantmakers who are currently developing a global guide on participatory grantmaking.
Our values are represented by the Swahili words that make up our name. UHAI is guided by certain inviolable commitments that express who we are and what principles infuse our practice.
Open and flexible processes of learning, mutual inquiry and participation grow out of pride in and respect for our incredible diversity. Simultaneously, outrage and love compel audacious, courageous and transformative work, which feeds a movement that is full of soul and spirit.
We demand equality for all, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. We aspire to bridge socio-economic disparities, and challenge impediments to individual and community advancement. Through sound governance and standards of excellence in our advocacy and support, we push each day to advance human rights and social justice.
As marginalised people, many of our human and health needs are not addressed by the mainstream, and so we are committed to taking risks that enable flexible and accessible support to affirm our human dignity. We challenge conventions to build new ways of organising, working and living.
We believe communities are their own change-agents and solutions must be driven by people’s lived experiences, driving us to approach all collaborations with a commitment to the inherent value and worth of individual contributions. This involves reaching out from the center to the margins, and including those who are frequently silenced by emerging power structures.
Currently, UHAI has a Board of 4 Eastern African activists from the sexual and gender minorities and sex worker movements, and the 2 Co-Executive Directors who are the secretary to the Board. The Board governs and has fiduciary responsibility over UHAI. This means they ensure UHAI fulfills her mission and goals. The Board accomplishes this oversight and monitoring function by keeping informed about UHAI activities, and making decisions to guide us to success. The Board validates peer grants decisions by the PGC, and approves strategic and opportunity grants recommendations by UHAI’s staff. The Board also authorises change in UHAI policy, and itself selects and invites successive Board members.
Our team is comprised of highly qualified activist professionals recruited from, and representing the diversity of Eastern Africa’s sexual and gender minorities, sex worker, and allied movements staff UHAI.
Director of Programmes
Wilfred Louis Mwangi
Programme Officer: Grants Administration
Programme Officer: Grantmaking
Programme Assistant: Grant Administration
Finance and Operations Manager
Finance Officer: Management Accounting
Finance Officer: Payment and Compliance
Partnerships and Communications Associate
Programme Officer: Knowledge, Evaluation and Learning
Programme Manager: Capacity Support
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