A charity set up by two insurance executives is planning on forging stronger links between schools in Africa and Britain. Richard Bailey, director of African Revival, explains.

In 2003 Tony Allen of the A&A Group together with Chris Knott, (Chris Knott Insurance) embarked on setting up an African charity. Its aim would be to provide aid and hope through self-sustaining projects in marginalised rural districts in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its clear philosophy would be “helping Africans to help themselves.”

Four years on, African Revival, based in Hampton Hill and with a team of experienced rural developers lead by Richard Bailey, has built up three core programmes; Primary Education, Basic Health Care and Small Business Development.

It has established projects in Southern Sudan, Northern Uganda, Western Kenya, Malawi and Zambia and has a strong network of volunteers on the ground, who agree with the local communities a clear, transparent, practical and focused vision.

They oversee each development and provide technical support and assistance to enable each project to become fully sustainable. Chris and Tony’s original philosophy is at the heart of every project they undertake.

This year they embarked on their most ambitious plan yet in collaboration with the BBC World Class programme, to create a lasting link between schools in the UK with corresponding schools in Africa.

So far they have linked communities in Uganda, Zambia and Malawi with schools in Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent and are already seeing the difference that is being made to the lives of the young children.

Richard Bailey, executive director of African Revival, says: “Our plan over a period of five years is to move the African schools through a programme that not only upgrades their infrastructure but also improves the quality of teaching, together with providing income generation for the school and the surrounding community.

“Children in the UK are beginning to understand the hardships of their peers in Africa and are raising on average £500 for their partner school. We have been able to supplement this from our corporate partners and individual donors as a result, extending that link further. We are keen to accelerate our Primary Education Programme and are hoping that more businesses and individuals will join us in adopting a school.”

African Revival fundraises in many ways and is involved in different awareness raising activities locally, nationally and internationally. Its corporate partners include Confused.com, Call Connection and Software Solutions Partners.

Its annual fundraising ball, hosted by many insurance luminaries and attended by the fraternity, has become one of the highlights of the insurance calendar. In the three years it has been running it has raised over £230,000.

Bailey adds: “Businesses realise that corporate social responsibly programmes make good business sense. Customers want to see that businesses are supporting good causes and ‘Cause Marketing’ is becoming part of overall business strategy.

“Our plan to support our Schools Linking Programme is to work with our corporate partners to develop Cause Marketing Campaigns. Initiatives include a promise of a donation for a particular policy sold and discount off other products if a donation is made through our website. We are hoping that our work will attract more corporate partners.”

Corporate Responsibility

Do customers care about corporate responsibility? A survey carried out by African Revival shows that, price and quality being equal, 72% of shoppers said they would change brands if the competing brand supported a good cause.

African Revival also encourages donors to visit the schools to see for themselves the change their donation makes.

David Rasche, chief executive of SSP, who recently joined a team from the UK in Zambia, says: “It was a great tour in several ways, excellent team building, good challenges and bravery were demonstrated by all.

“It was also very enlightening to see the situation of the villages and schools, which African Revival had only started to help, and how much better things were for those who are well in progress with the programme. It really shows the benefit of direct charitable involvement and how easy it is to make an impact with only a relatively small amount of money.”

David and Lisa Flux of David Flux Insurance are also keen supporters of African Revival and have financed the rebuilding of Tochi Primary School in Northern Uganda. David Flux says: “The children had been living in an internally displaced persons camps (IDP) in order to protect them from abduction from the rebel army.

“Since the area is now much more secure they can now return home and back to school. We are delighted that we have been able to facilitate their education.”

‘ If you would like to adopt a school or if you would like more information about how your company could be involved please contact Richard Bailey, director African Revival.

Tel: 020 8939 3190

email: richard.bailey@africanrevival.org

Website: www.africanrevival.org