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Bloomberg Philanthropies, NoVo Foundation and Women for Women International Pledge Multimillion-Dollar Commitment to Critical Women’s Economic Empowerment Programs

In a public ceremony today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, President Bill Clinton, philanthropists Peter and Jennifer Buffett and Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi launched a joint, $24 million commitment to support the economic empowerment of over 100,000 women and girls in the next three years.

“It’s a privilege to be in the position to be able to help thousands of women rebuild their lives and provide solid economic opportunities that will ensure the education, health and wellbeing of themselves, their children and their families. I’m thankful for this historic moment and serious economic investment we will make with the help of our partners in the global fight for women’s empowerment and poverty eradication” said Salbi of the commitment.

Leveraging resources from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the NoVo Foundation, Women for Women International (WfWI) and the organization’s thousands of grassroots supporters, the initiative will improve the lives and livelihoods of more than half a million women, men and children by directly serving 103,000 women survivors of war in a comprehensive program of rights education and vocational and business skills training that will enable them to raise themselves, their families and communities out of poverty. Through public-private partnerships, Women for Women International will give women access to economic resources, including land control and ownership and market-based job and business skills training that are directly tied to opportunities in local and international markets. With their increased knowledge and economic resources, women will participate in the solutions that drive the economic engines of their countries and create lasting change.

“The key to building strong societies is investing in women,” said Bloomberg. “Women have become the economic backbone in countries like Rwanda where so many men have died in conflict. Innovative programs such as the Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative in Rwanda have shown real results and we look forward to expanding the program in Southern Sudan, Nigeria and Congo. Women for Women International’s commitment to the health and well being of women in post-conflict countries made them a perfect fit for Bloomberg Philanthropies, and we are proud to be working with their visionary leader, Zainab Salbi on this important initiative.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ investment, focused on the African countries of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Nigeria will expand on a previous pilot program in Rwanda. There they launched WfWi’s large-scale commercial farming initiative, providing 3,000 women and adolescent girls with cooperative education and organic, sustainable farming methods designed to increase access to land, increase income and food security and link women to international market opportunities.

The newest commitment by Bloomberg Philanthropies expands on this foundation, providing thousands more women across the continent with training in basic financial and business skills, tailored to the local economy, to prepare them to start their own businesses or find employment. Bloomberg’s investment will also launch and expand vocational skills training pilots that link women to local, regional and international market opportunities fulfilling local needs. For example, Bloomberg Philanthropies will support projects such as: sustainable, organic farming in Sudan; ceramic tile production of building materials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; cooperative business development in Nigeria; and agro-processing to produce goods such as soybeans and dried and frozen fruit in Rwanda.

For its piece, the NoVo Foundation’s investment provides critical support for women’s economic empowerment, with a key focus on technology and infrastructure. NoVo’s commitment will dramatically expand the breadth and depth of WfWi’s work in the field, ensuring quality programming through cutting-edge monitoring and evaluation. A second commitment by NoVo and WfWI will tackle violence against girls and women in the DRC and surrounding countries through a commitment to three organizations – the International Rescue Committee, V-Day, and Women for Women International.

Speaking to the global implications of the commitments, NoVo co-chair Jennifer Buffett said: “By establishing girls and women as a priority before global leaders of government, business, academia and civil society communities, the Clinton Global Initiative is sending a powerful message that we cannot afford to neglect the needs of half the population any longer. This is the message we have been waiting for.”