USADF Turns 35

Jack Leslie, Chairman of the USADF Board of Directors, speaking at the 35th Anniversary Reception

Jack Leslie, Chairman of the USADF Board of Directors, speaking at the 35th Anniversary Reception

WASHINGTON – Today, the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) turns 35 years old. As Chairman of the USADF Board, I'd like to shine a spotlight on this great little agency that has carried out a great big mission since 1980.

 

USADF is the only federal agency dedicated entirely to Africa – we work with Africans for the most marginalized communities in Africa.  All of our funds must go to 100 percent African-owned enterprises.  Today, including our small grants program, we operate in 30 African countries, providing funding for over 400 active projects, directly benefiting nearly 1.5 million people.

 

As Africa grows and prospers, we are charged with helping to ensure every African has a chance to be a part of Africa’s growth journey.  We serve the most marginalized – women and children, religious and ethnic groups who have been ostracized, the disabled, victims of war and violence, and those living in remote areas not often reached by aid organizations or their own governments. We are empowering all these groups. The majority of our funding goes to women-led organizations – which is not too remarkable to those of us who are familiar with Africa and know that if you really want to get something done, ask a woman to do it!

 

Over the years, we’ve worked with tribes like the San in Botswana or the Tauregs in Niger. We have projects today working with the Turkana in the most remote part of northern Kenya.  We have projects with the disabled in Uganda.  We work with former slave populations in Mauritania, with widows of genocide in Rwanda, with rural HIV-positive farmers in Mali.  We are the only US development agency on the ground in Somalia working with young people to match skill training with actual jobs.  We continue to be very proud of our work, and the very special people we serve.

 

As Congress moves forward with legislative efforts to “Electrify Africa” or codify the President’s global food security initiatives, USADF is there extending Feed the Future’s reach into the marginalized areas of Africa, speaking for those who have no seat at the table and for those who will never have access to ‘the grid’.  For example, with our partner, GE, we have already made $2.8 million in grants as part of the Power Africa program.  In fact, when President Obama was in Nairobi last July, three of the five energy entrepreneurs he met with were ADF grantees. And I’m pleased to see our tiny agency has just completed the award for our 50th African Energy Entrepreneur for Off-Grid Energy.

 

We are also active in Feed the Future – in fact, 70% of our funding goes to agricultural enterprises, like the many cooperatives we have funded that do such a great job in helping to raise the incomes of smallholder farmers.

 

Today starts a year-long look back at 35 years of working to promote pathways to prosperity and goodwill in the most underserved communities in Africa. I remain proud to associate myself with the work of USADF, and we look forward to remaining on the frontier of development, and empowering communities with African-led solutions to achieve growth and prosperity.

USADF HQ staff at the 35th Anniversary Reception on Capitol Hill

USADF HQ staff at the 35th Anniversary Reception on Capitol Hill