Zanele Sibanda

Zanele Sibanda

Director of Programmes

Zanele has spent over twenty years providing leadership in grant-making, capacity-building, learning and evaluation, as well as programme management, and advocacy to catalyse systems change for children generally and girls specifically.

Zanele’s passion for grassroots-driven change grew out of her experiences growing up in Zimbabwe. She deepened her knowledge and experience on community-driven change while working with the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. She expanded her experience into programming and philanthropy through her work with the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, Chicago United, and the Rural Craft Cottage Industries.

She spent a decade at the Firelight Foundation where she led a ten-member team in identifying, funding, and building the capacity of grassroots organisations in southern and eastern Africa. Zanele transformed the foundation’s funding approach by defining a long-term partnership model, capacity-building strategy, and learning and evaluation strategy. She led the management of Firelight Foundation’s seven-year partnership with Nike Foundation (Grassroots Girls Initiative), which resulted in powerful changes for girls in communities in southern and eastern Africa.

Most recently, Zanele has been working as a philanthropic advisor supporting both private foundations and public charities in channelling resources, capacity-building, and learning and evaluation to grassroots organisations.