The streets of Manhattan and Boston are now linked to the small farms of sub-Saharan Africa, as Self Help Africa continues its growth to raise funding and awareness of its work across the United States.
Our journey to the US began in early 2009, with the decision to set up a new company there – Self Help Africa Inc, which was subsequently granted charity status.
Over four years later, the US office is firmly established in New York and has attracted significant support from a wide section of society.
Our flagship event, the Change-Maker’s Gala Ball, will attract up to 600 people to Manhattan in late October this year to support our projects. The black-tie event – which last year raised $350,000 – features a host of celebrities along with patrons from the worlds of business, finance and law. But activity in New York isn’t confined to one night in October. Every year, a Streetfest is held in the city’s financial district, attracting thousands of people to a number of bars and restaurants which donate all profits from the evening to our programmes.
This year, for the first time, Self Help Africa participated in the annual BCG Charity Day at a financial trading firm in Manhattan. Held to commemorate the Cantor Fitzgerald staff who died on 9/11, the event involves celebrities concluding trades on world markets, with profits from these trades going to charity. This year, the event raised over $12m, and Self Help Africa – assisted by celebrities Nana Meriweather (Miss USA 2012), Vincent Pastore (from TV show The Sopranos) and Al Leiter (former baseball star and commentator) – will receive a share of this fund.
Further afield, Boston has hosted its own Change-Maker’s Gala evening for the last two years, while there have been entries in the Boston and San Diego marathons by runners raising funds for our work. In addition, a team of runners from New York will travel to Addis Ababa this November to run in the Great Ethiopian Run, raising up to $80,000 for our work as a result.
But it’s not all ‘public’ fundraising events in the US, as attracting institutional funding and support for our work in other ways is also vital. Self Help Africa received its first significant support from the US government in 2011, when a team of organizations – of which it is part – was tasked with an ambitious new $24m programme to link agriculture and health promotion in Uganda. In addition, our work has been attracting increased attention from the private sector across the US, as it seeks to engage with the growing African market.
Self Help Africa has also represented the interests of smallholder African farmers at multiple events and initiatives in the US, the most recent of which included serving on the World Bank advisory group for the development of an agricultural business index.