The impact movement in West Africa has lost a pioneer and driving force with the sudden passing of Innocent Chukwuma. The thoughts of the GSG team and community are with his family and friends at this sad time.
We would also like to take the opportunity to reflect on – and celebrate – Innocent’s enormous contribution to impact in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. His legacy spans many years of tireless work furthering human rights causes and developing the impact investment ecosystem.
Innocent served as the Vice-Chair of the Impact Investors’ Foundation (IIF) in Nigeria and was helping lead the creation of the Nigeria National Advisory Board for impact investment (NAB). He played a hands-on role, training and supporting members of IIF team, while advising on the development of impact investing in Nigeria. These are efforts that will drive more capital to create impact in the country, ultimately improving people’s lives, while creating progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
From 2013 to 2021, Innocent served as Director of the Ford Foundation’s West Africa office, overseeing the Foundation’s grant-making activities while catalysing private and public cooperation in the region. Prior to that, he founded and led the CLEEN Foundation to promote public safety, security, and accessible justice in West Africa. CLEEN was the first African non-governmental organisation to receive the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.
Innocent also held roles within Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organisation and was widely recognised for his work in advancing human rights, receiving the Reebok International Human Rights Award among other accolades. He served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he created and taught a course on the management of non-profit groups in the Global South, and was also invited to be a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.
On a personal level, Innocent worked with intelligence, humour, humility and most of all with heart. He had an ability to bring people together to form consensus around hard issues. He had a relentless drive to improve people’s lives and was deeply committed to fixing broken systems. He was an inspirational figure and will be remembered fondly at the GSG.