Founded in 2007 by Russell Simmons and leaders in the Diamond and Jewelry industry, The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) is a non-profit international organization with the mission to support education initiatives in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource with the belief that sustainable development through education is essential to empower both individuals and society to reach their fullest potential. DEF’s envisions a future for these countries to be strong, stable, economically prosperous and socially empowered.
How DEF will realize this mission
- Global diamond jewelry industry supporting D.E.F. through partnerships which support our education initiatives
- Innovative product designs where sales help support our beneficiaries
- Education and advocacy on the positive contributions and best practices of companies working together with governments to empower society where diamonds are a natural resource.
- People donating to the Fund and also choosing to purchase diamond jewelry products that support D.E.F’s mission;
“For our people in Botswana every diamond you buy means food on the table, better living conditions, better health care, safe drinking water, more roads and much, much more. It means that we can build new power stations and expand our electricity network in the country”
The continent of Africa holds a cultural, economic, and humanitarian interest for so many people. The issues are undeniably vast. It was the humble hope of Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons, owners of the Simmons Jewelry Co., that they could join in and make a difference in helping Africans empower themselves. In this hope was the genesis of the idea for the Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) as a way to make a positive difference for Africa.
In fall 2006, while completing a fact-finding mission to southern Africa to see firsthand how diamonds are empowering Africans in Botswana and South Africa, Russell and his delegation witnessed concrete examples of how the diamond industry directly enhances sustainable economic development and contributes to the overall self-empowerment of African people and communities. They first chose those places in Africa where there are stable democratic governments and the kind of government-private sector joint ventures that have a factual and transparent track record of improving the quality of life.
They were in search of a success model not only for the diamond industry but, eventually, for other extractive industries in Africa. The delegation found that Botswana is the undisputed world model of African empowerment when it comes to the extraction, processing and production of diamonds. The team visited thriving commercial training and production centers, as well as well-equipped public schools, musical band programs, hospitals, family care facilities, orphanages, and HIV/AIDS clinics, all financially supported throughout Botswana from diamond beneficiation. They were heartened by the positive developments they saw and believe these effective measures can be the model for other countries in Africa that possess bountiful natural resources.
When the delegation arrived back in the United States, they reported the findings of fact and announced the establishment of D.E.F. to support education initiatives in Africa. At the same time, the Simmons Jewelry Company launched the Green Initiative™ collection of jewelry to raise funds for D.E.F. Green is intended to symbolize prosperity, well-being, and care for the planet Earth and its entire people. Importantly, green also represents the continent of Africa; including its natural and human resources. The collection is intended to symbolize and communicate the efforts to empower Africa’s most treasured resource – its youth – through education. Indeed, the malachite and rough-diamond “Green Bracelet” quickly became the first symbol for D.E.F. This signature green bracelet has recently been redesigned for 2012. Now, instead of a rough diamond, Simmons Jewelry Company added two polished diamonds to symbolize both D.E.F’s growth and the growth of the students we’ve helped since our founding.
D.E.F.’s mission reached the attention of the entertainment community when Oscar winner Forest Whitaker chose to wear a bracelet from the Green Initiative collection to the 2007 Academy Awards. The Green Bracelet as a symbol for D.E.F. and its mission then gained further public awareness through advertising campaigns featuring Kimora Lee Simmons wearing nothing but dozens of Green Bracelets, a series of celebrity events for D.E.F. from Manhattan to Hollywood in the summer and fall of 2007, and features in Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Ebony, Hamptons Magazine, and Hollywood Life.
D.E.F. was launched with Simmons Jewelry Co.’s leading support. Building on this good first step, the vision for D.E.F. is to engage the entire diamond and jewelry industry in raising funds to benefit educational initiatives in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. D.E.F. is diligently working to build alliances with the diamond jewelry industry to raise funds towards our mission of helping CIDA, African Leadership Academy and Botswana Top Achievers all organizations that empower Africans through education.
If you are in the diamond jewelry business and would like to be part of D.E.F. click here.