The Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) is doubling its initial allocation of support for its “Top Achievers Program” in Botswana. DEF awarded $50,000 to the program in September 2011 and has allocated another $100,000 this month, furthering its commitment to developing the next generation of leaders in diamond producing countries in Africa.
The Top Achievers Program represents a partnership between DEF and Botswana’s Ministry of Education. Top Achievers selects top high school students countrywide and affords them the opportunity to study at a university of their choice anywhere in the world. Graduates then return to Botswana to contribute to its economic, social and political development. Botswana’s education minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, continues to emphasize the importance of what these advanced degrees will have on shaping the future growth of Botswana.
The governor of the Bank of Botswana, Linah Moholo, who is also a member of DEF’s advisory board, said, “Affording these young, talented students the opportunity to be exposed to rigorous curriculum focused on development, macro-economics, political theory and social entrepreneurship will further the growth in our country for generations.”
Russell Simmons, the co-founder of DEF and advisory board chair, said, “This gift is a commitment from us to empower African youth and further Botswana’s vision of a thriving economy built on the responsible use of its natural resources to benefit its people.”
Varda Shine, the chief executive of the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) as well as a DEF governing board member, commended the program. As the DTC completes its own relocation to Botswana by the end of 2013, Shine said that she understands the importance of business and social responsibility to a country’s well being. “The Diamond Empowerment Fund clearly understands that access to education and incubation of future leaders leads to sustained progress, economic growth and prosperity,” she said.
The Top Achievers Program is one of three DEF beneficiaries. DEF also supports the CIDA City Campus, a business college in Johannesburg, South Africa, that is free to attendees with the requirement that they return to their native villages and teach for a period of time after graduation. In addition, DEF supports the African Leadership Academy, a university preparatory school in Johannesburg that draws students from all 54 countries across Africa, and emphasizes leadership skills, African History, and entrepreneurial skills. DEF provides scholarships to all students from diamond-producing nations.