• 2016 Call For Proposals

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is a grant making and advocacy foundation that is part of the global Open Society Foundations Network. OSIWA works to support the creation of open societies in West Africa marked by functioning democracy, good governance, the rule of law, basic freedoms, and widespread civic participation. Its headquarters is in Dakar and it has offices in Abuja, Monrovia, Freetown and Conakry.

OSIWA only supports innovative interventions with effective strategies that respond to the broader deep-seated political, justice and socio-economic roadblocks to open society in West Africa. We seek to seize new opportunities and deploy novel methods, including technology, to address open society challenges.

OSIWA seeks proposals aimed at achieving the following specific themes:

  • Economic Governance and advancement – Strengthen food security system and agriculture in the context of climate change; Increase the effectiveness of natural resource management frameworks; Enhance citizens’ social demands for accountability and effectiveness in public service delivery in health and education; Strengthen regional economic integration processes as well as tax, investment and trade justice; Promote transparency & accountability in the public sector and support alternative, ICT and arts-based means for fighting corruption.
  • Drug Policy – Reduce the impact of drug trafficking on governance and contribute to reducing the vulnerability of West African states to the threat and the impact of drug trafficking.
  • Human Rights & Democratic Practice – Support civic engagement and inclusive participation in democratic governance; Strengthen electoral system; Ensure inclusive constitutional review processes and strengthen prevention and early warning information systems to reduce militancy and violence; Enhance citizenship and documentation of identity and promote the adoption, implementation and compliance of freedom of/right to information laws.
  • Justice Reform & The Rule Of Law –  Advance the inclusion and legal empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities; Promote the use of transitional justice mechanisms; Improve criminal justice and the administration of justice.
  • Journalism, Information & Digital Rights – Promote investigative journalism and free, quality & independent media.

The detailed OSIWA strategy is available at here.

OSIWA primarily awards grants to local organizations based in West Africa. In rare and limited circumstances, it provides support to West Africa-based international organizations with a strong commitment to transfer knowledge to local groups they partner with. It provides grants to government institutions as well as regional and sub-regional organizations working in its core priority areas. OSIWA requires all organizations seeking funding to submit a complete proposal, budget, a monitoring and evaluation plan, and other relevant documents including leadership information (list of Board members, trustees and management staff who will be involved in the project), proof of registration and banking details. Applications that are not submitted with all the relevant documentation may be delayed.

Proposals should be sent directly to: proposals@osiwa.org and will be accepted until April 30th 2016. OSIWA encourages the early submission of proposals. Submitted proposals will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The time required to review a proposal varies according to the complexity of the proposal, the problem being addressed, and the number of proposals being reviewed. Generally, it can take up to three to six months from the time a proposal is received to the date a final decision is made. OSIWA strives to be as expeditious as possible in its review of inquiries and proposals. Please keep this in mind when planning.

Budget Template U.S. Sourcing Guidelines Lobbying Memo M&E Reporting Plan

  • Eligibility & Process

OSIWA does a continual reappraisal of its procedures, programs, and projects. This is to ensure the Foundation meets its own set of high standards and serves as a good model of transparency in resource management at the human, financial, and technical levels.

These proposals arrive in various formats, which means much time and attention is dedicated to each one. Please consult OSIWA’s proposal writing guidelines to help ensure your proposal is submitted in the best possible way.OSIWA awards grants principally to local organizations, West Africa-based organizations in partnership with local groups, government institutions, regional and sub-regional organizations working in its core priorities areas.Former grantees of the Foundation are also encouraged to apply, provided that the report for the previous grant has already been submitted and approved.


  • Proposals sent in by applicants
  • OSIWA-internally operated grants
  • Collaborative projects funded by OSIWA and other partner organizations

  • Criteria For Selection


Selection criteria and process applications are evaluated on the extent to which the organization possesses the vision, drive, experience and skills required to create and sustain a project that will advance OSIWA’s objectives.

Questions used as criteria for selection:


  • Does the organization demonstrate the vision and skills, breadth of experience and discipline needed to accomplish the project with a high degree of success in a timely and cost-effective manner?
  • Does the organization’s track record and recommendations distinguish the organization as one who will lend a new or important voice to the advocacy community and be an agent for change?
  • Does the organization possess the leadership and analytical qualities needed to raise the level of local or national discussion and influence policy debate on the issues underlying the project?


  • Is the project relevant to OSIWA’s strategic priorities?
  • Is the project sufficiently innovative in its approach and sound in its strategy to have an impact on public opinion, policies, and/or reform activities at the national, regional or local level?
  • Are the project goals and timeline realistic and manageable?
  • Does the project budget speak to the activities?
  • Is the Monitoring and Evaluation framework well defined?
  • Does the project identify and build on existing efforts by organizations or individuals already working on the issue?
  • Does the project have multiplier effects?

OSIWA requires all organizations seeking funding to submit a completed proposal template, a budget,  and a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. The application should also include the following information as attachments:

  • Proof of registration and (if available) a copy of organizational statutes;
  • A list of board members, trustees and staff;
  • A list of current activities or (if available) a most recent annual report;
  • A current organizational budget and, if available, an audited financial statement;
  • A recent project or organizational evaluation (if available).

  • Proposal & Budget Guidelines


Proposal writing can be a challenging enterprise. These guidelines have been prepared to help you. They outline what OSIWA considers the main elements of a grant proposal. We accept proposal in either French or English.

Our tips:

1. Address a need
In preparing the proposal, the organization seeking a grant must demonstrate its capacity to address a need. This need should clearly fall within OSIWA’s thematic areas and should prioritize the needs of the community.

2. Research
Before submitting a proposal, the grant seeker should research each funder’s mission, strategic priorities and budget.

3. Structured
Well thought-out, structured and carefully written proposals are more likely to be given favorable attention than those less carefully put together.

4. Additional support
The potential grantee greatly increases the likelihood of receiving funding by seeking support for respective components of its work from the appropriate source.

5. Feasibility
Most funders support a project only when convinced that it is feasible and that the prospective grantee is capable of implementing it.

6. Innovation
As much as possible applicants are encouraged to be creative and think outside-the-box.

Note: A well-written proposal for a weak, unnecessary or unfeasible project or a poorly written proposal for a potentially good project may both be denied funding.

  • Grants Faq’s

What is the threshold for funding?

There is no set maximum amount for OSIWA funding. OSIWA operates a limited budget for the ten countries it covers and its regional program. In the event that OSIWA cannot fund the entire project budget, it may choose to fund part of it and request the grant seeker to source for the outstanding balance.

How do I get funding from OSIWA?

OSIWA launches a yearly and open call for proposals. Grantees can submit their request through this process. However, in some urgent cases the Foundation may consider reviewing proposals submitted outside the regular call process. This decision is at the discretion of the Foundation and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

What is the decision making process?

All our requests go through an internal and transparent review process. Depending on the approval limits, final approval will either be given by the Executive Director or the Board.

Does OSIWA give scholarships?

OSIWA does not provide scholarships to individual to pursue studies. However, as part of its capacity-building for grantees, OSIWA may provide some funding to allow staff of a grantee organization, who is involved in the implementation of an OSIWA project, to participate in a training that will enhance delivery on the project. This will be determined by the Foundation on a case-by-case basis.

Open Society Foundations (OSF) has both Fellowship and Scholarship opportunities for outstanding individuals pursuing unconventional approaches to open society challenges and/or innovative scholars making extraordinary contributions in the fields of social sciences and humanities.

Note: Due to current OSF operations, OSF Fellows must be professionally fluent in English (e.g. able to give presentations and submit reports). For francophone applicants interested in receiving help with translation of their application, please contact the Fellowship Program at: osfellows@opensocietyfoundations.org

OSIWA can help with the translation of application materials.

The next deadline will be posted as it becomes available. Flexibility is negotiable. You may also download:

  • Fellowship Guidelines
  • Tips for writing robust proposals

Does OSIWA give grants to individuals?

OSIWA does not give grants to individual. OSIWA only works with institutions. Individuals operating on their own are not eligible for OSIWA funding.

Does OSIWA support international organizations?

As a general rule, OSIWA does not give funding to international organizations. The Foundation primarily awards grants to local organizations based in the ten countries in West Africa where OSIWA works. In rare and limited circumstances, it provides support to West Africa-based international organizations with a strong commitment to transfer knowledge to local partner groups.

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