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Afripics-EJWEAK Open Society Foundation for South Africa OSF-SAshort banner
About2018-06-27T10:32:24+00:00

About OSF-SA

OSF-SA works through a unique combination of both grant-making and advocacy. This is supported by strategic research, demonstration projects, convening on niche issues, and knowledge exchange with network and local partners. OSF-SA’s work is supported by two grant-making programmes and a Research and Advocacy Unit.

OSF-SA is part of the Open Society Foundations. The work of OSF-SA focuses on South Africa and the office is based in Cape Town. The Open Society Foundations’ work in the Southern Africa region (excluding South Africa) is carried out by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) which is based in Johannesburg.

Mindful of South Africa’s past, OSF-SA seeks to promote:

  • Democratic, responsive, accountable, and transparent governance.
  • The strengthening of democracy through informed and appropriate checks and balances on the exercise of public and private power.
  • The free flow of information and freedom of expression for all.
  • Informed and politically active communities.
  • Adherence to the rule of law and universal access to justice.
  • The ability of the poor, disadvantaged, and marginalised to exercise their rights.

In seeking to promote these principles, OSF-SA is guided by the values contained in the South African Constitution of human dignity and non-discrimination, and seeks the achievement of substantive equality and the advancement of human rights. OSF-SA is committed to promoting the values, institutions, and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic civil society. It works for a vigorous and autonomous civil society in which the rule of law and divergent opinions are respected.

OSF-SA supports over 80 organisations working to promote an open society in South Africa. To learn more about the organisations we support, visit our Annual Report Page and the Grantee Directory.

OSF-SA Fact Sheet

A brief history

OSF-SA began its work in 1993, opening offices in Cape Town as the country prepared for its first democratic elections. But George Soros, chairman and founder of the Open Society Foundations, had already been engaged in South Africa. In 1979 he launched a scholarship programme for black South African students to study at the University of Cape Town—his first ever venture into philanthropy. And in 1987, Soros provided financial support for the first dialogue between South African business and political leaders seeking to dismantle the apartheid system.

The new Foundation supported efforts to build a more just society in South Africa, providing funding for both civil society groups and government initiatives such as the provision of housing, an important deliverable for the government of President Nelson Mandela. Over the years, groups partly funded by the Foundation have taken a leading role in efforts to realise the rights promised by South Africa’s progressive Constitution—including the right to education, healthcare, and housing. Today, many of the projects and organisations the Foundation supports focus on protecting the constitutional rights of marginalised groups including refugees, sex workers, and LGBT communities, and on promoting transparency and accountability in the state and private sector. Since its earliest days, the Foundation has also strongly supported efforts to give all South Africans equal access to the protections of the law.

About OSF-SA

9 facts about our work in South Africa

01 In 1995 the Open Society Foundations partnered with the government of South Africa on the creation of the National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency (NURCHA), a 20-year financing partnership that supported the construction of over 250,000 housing units for poor South African families.

02 We have supported some of South Africa’s best known social movements and civil society groups, working on a diverse range of issues, from promoting the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS to seeking equal access to healthcare, housing, and education.

03 The Foundation has worked closely with the government on the development of an effective national network of community advice offices.

04 The Foundation has supported the growth and training of community radio stations, including children’s radio, across South Africa.

05 We have supported community and civil society groups that can carry out research and advocacy campaigns to increase accountability in South Africa’s mining sector.

06 We have supported organisations which encourage and facilitate greater citizen engagement in the day-to-day business of government, including a 2016 report on the performance of national parliamentary committees.

07 The Foundation’s work on strengthening local government accountability has included supporting community-led “citizens’ audits” to monitor the delivery of basic services and public infrastructure, such as public sanitation and schools.

08 During the build-up to the 2016 elections, we supported an online civil society group which ran an “Election Analysis Room” to provide independent analysis.

09 In recent years, we have had a dedicated focus on supporting and funding younger grantees of colour, to promote broad transformation objectives, and to ensure that over time our grantees represent the demographics of South Africa.

About OSF-SA

OSF-SA works through a unique combination of both grant-making and advocacy. This is supported by strategic research, demonstration projects, convening on niche issues, and knowledge exchange with network and local partners. OSF-SA’s work is supported by four grant-making programmes and a Research and Advocacy Unit.

OSF-SA is part of the Open Society Foundations. The work of OSF-SA focuses on South Africa and the office is based in Cape Town. The Open Society Foundations’ work in the Southern Africa region (excluding South Africa) is carried out by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) which is based in Johannesburg.

Mindful of South Africa’s past, OSF-SA seeks to promote:

  • Democratic, responsive, accountable, and transparent governance.
  • The strengthening of democracy through informed and appropriate checks and balances on the exercise of public and private power.
  • The free flow of information and freedom of expression for all.
  • Informed and politically active communities.
  • Adherence to the rule of law and universal access to justice.
  • The ability of the poor, disadvantaged, and marginalised to exercise their rights.

In seeking to promote these principles, OSF-SA is guided by the values contained in the South African Constitution of human dignity and non-discrimination, and seeks the achievement of substantive equality and the advancement of human rights. OSF-SA is committed to promoting the values, institutions, and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic civil society. It works for a vigorous and autonomous civil society in which the rule of law and divergent opinions are respected.

OSF-SA supports over 80 organisations working to promote an open society in South Africa. To learn more about the organisations we support, visit our Annual Report Page and the Grantee Directory.

OSF-SA Fact Sheet

A brief history

OSF-SA began its work in 1993, opening offices in Cape Town as the country prepared for its first democratic elections. But George Soros, chairman and founder of the Open Society Foundations, had already been engaged in South Africa. In 1979 he launched a scholarship programme for black South African students to study at the University of Cape Town—his first ever venture into philanthropy. And in 1987, Soros provided financial support for the first dialogue between South African business and political leaders seeking to dismantle the apartheid system.

The new Foundation supported efforts to build a more just society in South Africa, providing funding for both civil society groups and government initiatives such as the provision of housing, an important deliverable for the government of President Nelson Mandela. Over the years, groups partly funded by the Foundation have taken a leading role in efforts to realise the rights promised by South Africa’s progressive Constitution—including the right to education, healthcare, and housing. Today, many of the projects and organisations the Foundation supports focus on protecting the constitutional rights of marginalised groups including refugees, sex workers, and LGBT communities, and on promoting transparency and accountability in the state and private sector. Since its earliest days, the Foundation has also strongly supported efforts to give all South Africans equal access to the protections of the law.

About OSF-SA

9 facts about our work in South Africa

01 In 1995 the Open Society Foundations partnered with the government of South Africa on the creation of the National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency (NURCHA), a 20-year financing partnership that supported the construction of over 250,000 housing units for poor South African families.

02 We have supported some of South Africa’s best known social movements and civil society groups, working on a diverse range of issues, from promoting the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS to seeking equal access to healthcare, housing, and education.

03 The Foundation has worked closely with the government on the development of an effective national network of community advice offices.

04 The Foundation has supported the growth and training of community radio stations, including children’s radio, across South Africa.

05 We have supported community and civil society groups that can carry out research and advocacy campaigns to increase accountability in South Africa’s mining sector.

06 We have supported organisations which encourage and facilitate greater citizen engagement in the day-to-day business of government, including a 2016 report on the performance of national parliamentary committees.

07 The Foundation’s work on strengthening local government accountability has included supporting community-led “citizens’ audits” to monitor the delivery of basic services and public infrastructure, such as public sanitation and schools.

08 During the build-up to the 2016 elections, we supported an online civil society group which ran an “Election Analysis Room” to provide independent analysis.

09 In recent years, we have had a dedicated focus on supporting and funding younger grantees of colour, to promote broad transformation objectives, and to ensure that over time our grantees represent the demographics of South Africa.