Monday, March 23, 2009

Philanthropy in Africa Series: FACE Africa



Welcome to the first post on the series, Philanthropy in Africa! This week, we'll feature African philanthropists who have created organizations and foundations that benefit countries in Africa, a social entrepreneur turned author who has made it her life's mission to understand global poverty and how to address it, celebrities that use their platform to bring awareness to issues in Africa, and a young professionals group that provides support for Rwandan women.

In this first post, we profile Saran Kaba Jones, who at the young age of 26 has created FACE Africa, a non profit organization that benefits her native country of Liberia.

Liberia is a small country in West Africa that is recovering from a devastating civil war. Statistics on the country shed light on the war's impact: Life expectancy, 44.7 years; adult literacy rate, 50%; people undernourished, 50%; and people with access to clean drinking water, 61%.

Saran Kaba Jones founded the organization in 2007 to bring innovative and results based non profit programs to Liberia. Saran and her team accomplish this by partnering with organizations with proven track records, and then replicating those programs there. FACE Africa is based in Cambridge, MA.

The foundation's priority areas are education, health services, technology and clean water. Last month, the organization was selected by Procter & Gamble to distribute the company's point-of-use water treatment flocculent in Liberia. Flocculent, trade name PUR, is an invention that quickly turns 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean, drinkable water. Saran shared, “Poor water and sanitation systems are major problems in Liberia. The war compounded the sufferings of millions of Liberians who, even before the war, had little or no access to basic human needs such as safe drinking water and basic sanitation. We believe that a necessary starting point in rehabilitating the country is to provide easy access to safe drinking water and we are happy to be working with P&G to make this possible.”

Saran's impressive resume has equipped her with the skills and knowledge to manage the day to day operations, as well as setting the strategic direction of the organization, which includes expansion into other countries, among them Sierra Leone. She previously served as the Fellowship Program Coordinator at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and in 2000, she was the youngest member of the Massachusetts Delegation to the National Summit on Africa. She has also served on the Board of the Boston Pan African Forum and currently serves on the Board of the Coalition for a Strong United Nations (CSUN).

In commemoration of United Nations World Water Day, FACE Africa held its first benefit on March 22, 2009 to raise funds for their clean water initiatives in Liberia. Guests included the mayors of Boston and Cambridge, MA, and the Liberian ambassador to the U.S.

For more information, visit the website at http://www.faceafrica.org/.

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