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Shared Interest Honors South Africa’s Change Agents at Annual Gala in New York

April 12, 2016 at 03:30 pm | Entertainment

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Erharuyi Idemudia

April 12, 2016 at 03:30 pm | Entertainment

The 22nd Anniversary Awards Gala hosted by Shared Interest was an opportunity to honor groups and persons who have contributed to the improvement of lives in Southern Africa.  On April 7, 2016, PepsiCo, Anthony Bugg-Levine, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and artists United Against Apartheid were honored for their invaluable contributions.

PepsiCo was honored for “improving the lives of South Africa’s women and children.” South Africa has one of the widest gender wage gaps in the world, as on average, women earn one third less than men. Furthermore, particularly in rural areas, women do not have equal access to education, business training, employment or opportunities to obtain loans. PepsiCo represents a company that has chosen to change the status quo. For example, in order to improve the economic and social welfare of women and children, PepsiCo Foundation visited Limpopo in South Africa, where they worked with “2,100 farmers, 80% of whom are women.” They assisted these farmers to become self-sustaining, productive and profitable.

Similar to PepsiCo, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is an advocate for women’s rights. She currently serves as the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women. In 2005, she made history when she became the most senior-level female politician in South Africa’s history. As Executive Director of UN Women, she heads the successful gender solidarity campaign, #HeForShe, which was initiated to end discrimination and violence against women and girls. According to Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, it is important to realize that we have the power to fundamentally change “the power relations between men and women.”

While PepsiCo and Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka were honored for their contribution to the development of women’s welfare, Artists United Against Apartheid were honored for lifting voices to end apartheid and transform South Africa.  The group’s Sun City album was one of the first collaborations among major recording artists to support a political cause. The project raised “more than $1 million for the [African National Congress] to meet the needs of South Africans in exile and to aid anti-apartheid education in the United States.” As a consequence, Artists United Against Apartheid successfully galvanized international public opposition to apartheid policies, persuaded major recording artists to boycott South Africa, and gain support for the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in the United States.  

The fourth honoree, Anthony Bugg-Levine was honored for his foresight and contribution to the creation of what has become known as impact investing. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), impact investing refers to “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.” For a geographical location like southern Africa with a large population of low income residents and over flowing natural resources, wildlife, minerals and land, it is a great opportunity for social investors who wish to improve their communities. Mr. Bugg-Levine’s work provides an opportunity to employ the resources of local communities to build, strengthen and improve the welfare of Southern Africans.

Shared Interest embraces the work and contribution of these four honorees, and strives to build upon their progress. The organization mobilizes resources to strengthen southern African communities by guaranteeing bank loans in favor of low income prospective borrowers, building self-awareness and self-sufficiency within low income communities, and driving policies that recognize women as a important part of community development.

At the conclusion of Shared Interests’ 2015 Gala, Face2Face Africa published an article on the important work performed and completed by Shared Interest in Southern Africa.  Over the past year, the organization has recorded significant accomplishments in its objective, and continues to improve the lives of Africans living in Southern Africa. One such example of the organization’s important achievement is its recent partnership with Thembani International Guarantee Fund. Under this partnership, Shared Interest has successfully quadrupled the number of loans it guarantees in favor of low-income entrepreneurs and farmers, who otherwise, would not receive loans from banks to establish their businesses and employ residents of their local communities.

Shared Interest has “unlocked more than $103 million in local loans” that has benefited more than “2.3 million low income black south Africans.” The organization’s work has performed miracles for persons who never imagined that they could own businesses or employ members of their communities. In addition to establishing businesses and creating jobs, Shared Interest’s work in southern Africa has also aided the construction of schools, water systems and other infrastructures and facilities to deliver basic amenities. The organization hopes to continue expanding its presence and furthering its objective in countries like Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and other neighboring countries.

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