Diamonds Are Doing Good – Not Just In Mining Communities

Recent developments shows that the diamond industry's heart is definitely in the right place.

The Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) recently donated $130,000 to the Botswana Top Achiever Program during a dinner reception with President Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi of Botswana. This program recognizes students across Botswana, and provides them with the ability to study in leading universities around the world. Students then come back to Botswana and contribute towards its economic diversification. D.E.F. has been contributing to the Botswana Top Achievers program since 2011.

President Masisi commented that through D.E.F.’s Diamonds Do Good initiative, the Botswana diamond story is reflected in a positive way, emphasizing how ethically sourced diamonds have made and continue to make enormous contributions to Botswana’s economy, an example of good governance and industry best practices.

Meanwhile, more than 60 volunteers from Forevermark US and staff from Forevermark authorized jeweler, Diamonds International Honduras, came together to rebuild, improve and expand a school for children in Roatán, Honduras.

The five-week combined effort more than doubled the school’s capacity, making it the largest in the area. Results included: greatly improving the overall space, structural quality, updated electric, proper air circulation and the opportunity for more students to enroll and receive free education.

The project stemmed from a recent trip to Diamonds International Honduras taken by Forevermark US Director of Business Development, Michael Rousso. After hearing about Diamonds International’s plans for the school and seeing firsthand the strength and spirit of the community in Roatán, Rousso felt it was imperative for Forevermark to join this effort.

“We have dedicated the past seven years giving back to the communities of Roatán, and this year, we wanted to put a special focus on education by rebuilding a school that was in dire need of help,” said Ruth King, General Manager of Diamonds International Honduras. “All of the children who were once turned away now have a safe and comfortable environment to start their educational journey. This project will keep on giving back to the community for years and years to come.”

In the school’s original state, over 40 children in seven grades shared two small and run-down classrooms and a shed. Now, the school’s capacity has more than doubled with over 2,000 square feet including four new classrooms and a library, allowing a safe space for nearly 100 children to receive a free education each year.

Then there is De Beers Group’s three-year partnership with UN Women, which includes a $3 million investment to advance women and girls in De Beers Group’s diamond producing countries which has just marked its first anniversary.

In addition to the capacity-building program for women micro-entrepreneurs in southern Africa, De Beers Group is providing scholarships to young women and girls in Canada to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). To date, eight university scholarships have been awarded, with the aim of a further 19 multi-year scholarships by 2020. De Beers Group also sponsored a summer science camp at the University of Waterloo for 13 and 14 year old girls from indigenous communities near the company’s Gahcho Kué mine, which included visits to Google’s HQ and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

As a UN Women HeForShe Thematic Champion, De Beers Group has also committed to achieving parity in the appointment of women and men into senior leadership roles in its own organization, as well as ensuring the company’s brands are a positive force for gender equality through all its marketing campaigns.

Over the past 12 months, De Beers Group has doubled its appointment rate of women into senior positions, with 51 percent of new senior hires being women.

There are plenty of other examples, of course, such as a new children's rehabilitation center, to which Russian diamond miner ALROSA contributed $1.8 million to the construction costs in Mirny.

The point is that the diamond trade is taking very real action to help people on the ground – not just in mining communities, but elsewhere, too.

The good that diamonds do is well-trodden path, but the steps that companies are taking are especially worthy of praise and need to be transmitted to consumers.