In my last face to face private visit with Nelson Mandela and Russell Simmons in southern Africa, we discussed how important it was for the diamond industry and other extractive industries to invest in the empowerment of Africa. Shortly thereafter and taking the wisdom of Mandela seriously, Russell, I and others from the industry established the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) to provide financial support for the higher education of young African leaders from diamond producing nations in Africa.
Business leaders and government leaders can and should do so much more. Africans can learn from us, but equally important, there is so much we can learn from Africans. We are working now in South Africa and Botswana. Soon we will be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
We are advocating concern about all the minerals and other extractive industries. But like in every neighborhood in America and in Africa, the greatest resource is not the oil, diamonds, copper, gold, silver, platinum, uranium or other precious metals and minerals. The greatest resource is the human resource: that is the youth, families, communities, villages and neighborhoods where people want and deserve the best of life.