The aim of Sport en Commun, which was launched at the end of September, is to use sport for economic and social development in Africa. Its Director, Nelson Camara, explains that this platform will form a connection between the domains of sport and development funding and will measure the effects of projects undertaken.

Interview taken from the magazine Sport and Citizenship n°50, Jan. 2021.


Sport & Citizenship: What are the objectives of the “Sport en Commun” platform?

Nelson Camara: The initiative was conceived in 2018 at the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and George Weah, who emphasised the importance of sport as a vector for economic and social development in Africa. The French Development Agency (AFD) was tasked with structuring and setting up a dedicated platform. “Sport en Commun” was launched in September 2020 and Sport Impact is charged with its management.

The aim of “Sport en Commun” is to promote economic and social development through sport in Africa. In the current context, this has become even more important. Although the continent of Africa has suffered less from the health crisis, it is still faced with enormous challenges. We would be wrong if we thought that sport was simply a leisure activity. It represents an important force for social cohesion, and a channel for educating young people, empowering women, reducing inequality of all kinds, economic development and jobs. “Sport en Commun” aims to form a bridge between the sport domain and the development domain. To do this, we are pursuing four main goals:

  • Facilitate funding for development projects by identifying the levers available
  • Support project leaders throughout the life cycle of the project
  • Make contacts between professionals easier, since the sport domain and the development domain do not know much about each other
  • Give visibility to project leaders, to funding and support structures and to the subject of the social impact of sport in general

Sport & Citizenship: You talk about support. How will this be given?

NC: According to our research, 60% of project leaders find it difficult to see exactly what funding is available. This is a serious restraint. The first thing we will do to support projects is to give visibility on our platform to the different sources of funding available. The idea is that “Sport en Commun” will become a sort of unique gateway for all project leaders.

We observed that 40% of them meet difficulties in structuring their dossier. We therefore propose a number of services in association with our partners and local experts: incubation, structuring (to initiate fund-raising, for example), follow-up, deployment, and also impact measurement, so as to know and identify the effects of the project.

Many projects are already being supported, whether they are present on our platform or conceived by our “Sport Impact Leaders”, top-level athletes who are sport ambassadors for development. We have also launched a call for projects co-funded by AFD and FIFA in the field of sport-health. In 5 weeks we received more than 1,000 dossiers from a wide variety of geographical regions (49 African countries) and sports (football, basketball, combat sports, swimming, traditional African sports, and others). This confirms the enthusiasm for this subject and sport’s potential for social innovation.

Sport & Citizenship: You talk about social impacts. How do you expect to measure the effects of the projects which are funded?

NC: Measuring impacts is vital, otherwise funding is limited. Before setting up the platform, we conducted a survey with funders to find ways of increasing their involvement. Their main requirements were to have access to a database of qualified projects and local experts and to be able to measure the effects of projects efficiently. That is why our platform is working with a stakeholder like Sport and Citizenship, so that we can use your expertise in creating suitable tools and methodologies. For a funding body, this aspect is crucial. It means measuring the returns in social terms, not financial. The project has made it possible to do this and also to avoid things. We need to convince people that investing in sport brings economic and social added value. To do this we need objective data.

Sport & Citizenship: When will the measuring take place?

NC: In our calls for projects we ask candidates to set out the expected impacts. However, not all of them possess the tools and methods to do this. That is why the platform must provide these services. Hence the partnership with Sport and Citizenship. The idea is to be able to adapt your tools according to the context working with local experts. Today, project leaders and funders are convinced of the added value offered by measuring what they do, but few of them know how to do this effectively. Even the traditional bodies involved in sport and development admit to having needs in this area.

Sport & Citizenship: You took part in the “Finance in Common” Summit in mid-November. What did you take away from these discussions, particularly the session devoted to sport?

NC: Development through sport is now benefiting from a new political approach. I appreciate the energy shown by the AFD in structuring and launching this vast international movement.

The panel devoted to sport brought together the most prestigious institutions as well as several public development banks. All of them were keen to find a common objective, which led to the announcement at the end of the summit of the launch of a coalition. This coalition unites sport stakeholders, including the Olympic and Paralympic movement, and several public development banks including the AFD, the KfW and the GIZ (Germany), the JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency), the Inter-American Development Bank and the West African Development Bank (WADB).

This coalition will allow us to work together on new funding and support initiatives. We hope that by January this coalition will have a special secretariat for coordinating our efforts. Another objective is the launch of a seed capital fund dedicated to this matter at the next Africa/France Summit in Montpellier in July 2021.

credit : IM YOUTH Foundation