National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

DEF donates $75K to students in Botswana


New York--The Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) presented a check for $75,000 to leaders of the Republic of Botswana on Monday, money that will go a long way toward the educational goals of that nation’s top students.

The check presentation took place at the Botswana United Nations Embassy, located on 46th Street near Grand Central Station.

Those in attendance included two ambassadors from Botswana, Tebelelo Seretse and New York-based Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, as well as Botswana’s Minster of Foreign Affairs, Phandu T.C. Skelemani. DEF board members at the event were Anna Martin, Hedda Schupak, Sally Morrison, Ellen Haddigan, Nicola Breytenbach-Steiner and Scott Rauch, along with DEF “Angel Ambassador” Flaviana Matata.

The money, raised by DEF at its benefit in Washington, D.C., over the summer, will go toward Botswana’s Top Achievers program, which takes the country’s top high school students and gives them the opportunity to study at the university of their choice anywhere in the world. After graduation, they return to Botswana and contribute to the country’s economic, social and political development. The program is one of three educational initiatives that DEF supports in Africa.

Remarking on the donation and the importance of education, Minister Skelemani said that he wouldn’t be where he is today without education, and he noted that the country is going to need education in the future to help it diversify its heavily diamond-dependent economy.

“With education ... I could go anywhere. It’s a gift that governments give to their people so they can go into the future with confidence,” he said.

Co-founded in 2006 by Russell Simmons, DEF’s goal is to raise money in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. In addition to the Botswana Top Achievers program, DEF donates to CIDA City Campus and the African Leadership Academy, both in South Africa.