Focus Areas


Gatsby has worked in Africa since 1985. We are currently focused on accelerating inclusive and resilient economic growth in East Africa by demonstrating how key sectors can be transformed.


We fund and implement programmes, build local organisations dedicated to sector transformation, and synthesise and share lessons from our activities and those of others.

Through this we aim to test, refine and prove models for sector transformation, allowing others to confidently adopt them at scale in different contexts. Ultimately this should contribute to the increased growth and competitiveness of key sectors, creating jobs and raising incomes for people across East Africa.

We work in the Tanzanian cotton and textiles sectors, the tea sectors in Tanzania and Rwanda, and forestry sectors in Tanzania and more broadly regionally.

We have also set-up and continue to support a number of independent institutions dedicated to sector development.  These are governed, managed and staffed by local people.

In all our programmes we take an analytical approach as an engaged funder, proactively looking for opportunities and partnerships in areas of interest rather than funding proposals from others.  Rather than simply provide finance, we design and manage our own programmes, allowing us to take calculated risks, quickly respond to changing circumstances, pool our learning, and focus on long-term impact.

While we have traditionally based programmes on grant finance, more recently we have also started considering loans and equity where such approaches are more suitable for achieving our objectives.

We have a small, professional team based in London, and employ a number of staff in East Africa on specific programmes.  We frequently use specialists and experts in different fields in both the planning and implementation of activities.

We work closely with local institutions.  We have founded a number of independent institutions across Africa over the past two decades, giving us a wide and experienced network of local people who are key to understanding the political economy and guiding our programmes.  We also work with and through other legitimate local institutions, building their capacity to sustain activities after Gatsby’s involvement ends.

Our programmes benefit from the direct involvement of Gatsby settlor David Sainsbury.  Lord Sainsbury brings vast experience from both the private and public sector.  He understands commercial pressures and challenges after working for more than 30 years - including six as Chairman - at the FTSE 100 retailer J Sainsbury plc.  Furthermore, his time as the UK’s Minister of Science and Innovation has given him a strong understanding of the role of government in catalysing growth.


This video sets out the thinking behind Gatsby's sector programmes, explaining our approach and exploring what is needed to make it work: