US: Bloomberg Philanthropies commits US$10 million to women’s economic development in Africa

New York, US (PANA) - New York-based charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies on Wednesday announced a US$10 million investment toward expanding the foundation’s women’s economic development programme in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of  Congo (DRC).

Announcing the commitment at the US-Africa Business Forum holding on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Chief Executive Officer of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ms. Patricia Harris, said: "This funding will help Relationship Coffee Institute provide an additional 20,000 women farmers with access to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee.

"Through the grant to the Relationship Coffee Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of rural Rwandan women coffee farmers through training and market access, more women will be able to benefit and participate in Africa’s economic growth.

"In Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural production, tourism and construction are rapidly growing industries that are fueling economic development. Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped ensure that more women are not only a vital part of this growth and also emerge as strong participants and beneficiaries," she stated.

Relationship Coffee Institute is a key partner in helping women access one of the most valuable agriculture commodities, coffee, and currently, the coffee supply chain struggles to provide 25 million smallholder farmers with a fair and sustainable means to meet their basic needs.

Ms. Harris, however, said the problem was especially acute for the estimated 12 million smallholder farmers who are women, most of whom are marginalized and left out of the global marketplace.

"Without access to knowledge, markets, and buyer networks, smallholder farmers miss the opportunity to make needed income to feed their families and care for their communities," she noted

According to her, the Relationship Coffee Institute connects women farmers to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee.

"The new round of funding will allow the institute to reach an additional 20,000 women and builds on a previous commitment of over US$2 million. In 2013, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Relationship Coffee Institute’s main partner, Sustainable Harvest has continued to expand its women’s coffee programme, and by 2015 was sourcing nearly 1 million pounds annually of women-grown coffee from nine countries.  

"The funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies allowed Sustainable Harvest to scale its social enterprise model by working with government and local NGOs. As a result, Relationship Coffee Institute was able to reach a larger number of women, many of them widows with limited agronomical skills," she stated.

The CEO noted that the Rwandan government, after seeing women enrolled in the programme present at a major coffee conference, 'Let’s Talk Coffee', asked the Rwanda Coffee Institute to implement its training to all 400,000 Rwandan coffee farmers in efforts to bolster economic growth.

"In Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural production, tourism and construction are rapidly growing industries that are fueling economic development," she said.

"Through our partnerships with Women for Women International, the Relationship Coffee Institute and Sustainable Harvest we are supporting women in Sub-Saharan Africa with innovative workforce training to gain new job skills, basic business training, life skills and support networks in these sectors providing participants with the tools and resources to sustain an income, learn the importance of saving, and small business management."

PANA learnt that, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been involved in supporting projects across Africa and is currently active in more than 36 countries.

Its initial focus was on women’s economic development, malaria, and maternal health was later expanded to include public health initiatives, such as road safety and tobacco control, and it also works with several cities in Africa to reduce their carbon footprints through C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Additionally, the foundation is supporting efforts to improve the quality of financial journalism through the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa to promote economic growth.

Bloomberg Philanthropies was established by billionaire businessman and former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, and encompasses all of his charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$510 million.

The US-Africa Business Forum, organised by the US Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies, is aimed at enhancing trade and investment between the US and African countries.

The forum would also strengthen commercial and financial ties between the US and Africa, focusing on US private sector engagement in Africa in sectors such as finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, health care, and information communication technology.

Some African leaders, US President Barack Obama, businessmen and women, as well as chief executives of companies in Africa and the US are attending the event.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  21Sept2016

21 september 2016 16:46:29

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