We envision a freer, safer, more integrated, democratic and equitable West Africa

Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grantmaking and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights and knowledge generation.  It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world.

OSIWA fosters citizen participation in building a region that is freer, more vibrant and more tolerant using various tools including grants, advocacy, litigation, partnership building, dialogue, strategic communication, research and technical assistance. We believe in the agency of people and that citizen participation is the cornerstone of democracy.

We work across ten countries in the sub-region from Dakar (Regional office), Abuja (Country Office), and Freetown (Mano River Office).


Through tools including grants, advocacy, litigation, partnership building, knowledge generation / research, and technical assistance, OSIWA fosters citizen participation in the building of a region that is freer, more vibrant and more tolerant. We are firm in the belief that citizen participation is the cornerstone of democracy.

OSIWA plays a dual role in the region as both an advocate and grant-maker by enabling itself to be agenda-setters both within and alongside other organizations working on the ground. The Foundation works through a unique combination of grant-making, advocacy, partnership building and technical assistance.


Through grant-making, research, advocacy, litigation, and the provision of technical support, we are committed to supporting and standing in solidarity with those who seek justice, accountability, equitable distribution of national wealth, sustainable and environmentally-friendly development, economic and legal empowerment, promotion and protection of basic rights, freedoms and liberties of its citizens and public participation.

What sets us apart from other organizations in the sector?

We are dynamic and how we engage our partners is constantly evolving to ensure the support we offer is reflective of developments in the region. This is why we occasionally have to change our programs as we renew our strategic plans to address the evolving West African context.

We continually think of new ways of engaging citizenry. From investing in arts & culture as a vehicle for social movements and progress to developing a guide to fund Community Based Organizations; we are constantly looking at different ways to engage.

We are bolder and less risk averse than other funders, willing to invest in new and/or youth led organizations that might need more organizational support than typical partners, but who demonstrate a capacity for positive impact. We go where other organizations are not willing to go.

Our ecosystem approach means we work at all levels from ECOWAS, AU and governments to community activists and entertainers. We act as a convener and are able to work with both demand and supply-side actors united for protecting and building open societies.

At OSIWA we consider ourselves to be talent scouts for social programs and we are constantly looking to partner with organizations carrying out meaningful work in the region. We know that it is through our partners that we will achieve our vision for the sub-region.

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