We aim to accelerate inclusive and resilient economic growth in East Africa by demonstrating how key sectors can be transformed.


We plan to achieve our mission by:

  • Funding and implementing programmes that look to catalyse and influence large-scale and lasting change in priority sectors.  
  • Building and supporting local organisations dedicated to sector transformation.  
  • Sharing what we have learned with others who are trying to transform sectors.

Through this, we hope to create jobs, raise incomes and reduce poverty for people across East Africa.


David Sainsbury set up the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in 1967 to support causes in areas he is passionate about, including science and economic development.

Gatsby has worked in Africa since 1985.  Up to 2006, we mainly funded NGOs, R&D organisations and private consultancies to undertake projects in two areas: local institution building and agricultural research & dissemination.

In 2006 David Sainsbury left his position as Minister of Science and Innovation in the UK Government. His eight years as a minister, following his 35-year career at the UK retailer J.Sainsbury, had strongly influenced his thinking on the roles of the public and private sectors in driving economic growth.

He believed that to help generate large-scale and lasting change in Africa, Gatsby needed to be more ambitious and make more of its freedoms as a private foundation. Rather than fund many different and isolated projects, he saw a role for Gatsby in partnering with government and the private sector to transform the growth of entire sectors - such as cotton - via a holistic, long-term approach.

Since 2007 we have gradually evolved to fill this role, focusing on both funding and implementing ambitious programmes in East Africa.


We work in sectors with the potential for competitiveness and where growth could benefit large numbers of people. We help public and private stakeholders to tackle immediate constraints to growth as well as long-term structural challenges.

We support stakeholders to develop a vision for the sector by combining international learning and benchmarking with high quality analysis of local, regional and global markets and trends. We pilot new ways of working via partnerships with the private sector that look to test and prove inclusive business models that can be scaled and replicated.

We also seek to facilitate effective policy-making and public-private dialogue. Crucially we look to build public institutional capacity to regulate and govern markets effectively while creating the right environment for dynamic private sector innovation.

Ultimately we aim to help build competitive, inclusive and resilient sectors. Resilient sectors have the institutions, incentives and capabilities in place to dynamically adapt to new challenges and opportunities and ensure continued, long-term growth.

We work in the Tanzanian cotton and textiles sector, the tea sectors in Tanzania and Rwanda, and forestry sectors in Tanzania and Kenya.

Beyond our programmes, we have built and continue to support a number of independent East African organisations to undertake sector transformation work and influence the broader debate on economic growth in the region.  These are governed, managed and staffed by local people.

With our partner organisations, we are already involved in 10 sectors across East Africa. Transforming these sectors would raise incomes or create jobs for at least 1.7 million smallholders and workers, and improve the lives of more than 10.8 million East Africans.

However, many other sectors also need support. Therefore an important focus for each programme and organisation is to capture what is working and what is not, and share this with other stakeholders so that they can benefit from our learning.  In this way, we aim to contribute to a wider movement, and to see a series of sectors in East Africa and beyond transformed by us and by others. 


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