June 5, 2014
Our Executive Director, Kara Gerson, was quoted in The Guardian this week in an article by Leigh Stringer on brands building the foundation for sustainable business in Africa:
“‘One challenge [for businesses] will be making sure moving operations to Africa is done fairly, so that both the workers and the business owners benefit from it simultaneously,’ says Kara Gerson, executive director of the Voss Foundation.”
Rebecca van Bergen, founder of Voss Foundation’s partner Nest, tells Stringer, “strong collaboration between NGOs, businesses and local communities is essential if brands are to help build robust industries in Africa.”
Voss Foundation has funded seven wells and 145 sanitation facilities with Nest in Swaziland, funded by our 2012 and 2013 Women Helping Women campaigns and events.
Stringer explains how such partnerships between businesses and NGO’s that help meet the needs of developing regions ultimately sow the seeds for more successful, sustainable business.
“The project focuses on how women are often required to walk several miles a day to fetch water supplies, impacting their ability to work full-time. Nest says that with consistent access to food and clean water, women artisans in Swaziland would be safer, healthier and better able to work, bringing much needed income back to their families and children.”
The Guardian article is a perfect demonstration of Voss Foundation’s ripple effect, showing how access to clean water enables community-driven development, directly impacting all aspects of life, including the economy.
“The transition [of brands to working in Africa], says Gerson, must look at how to work in a developing community in a meaningful way, getting to know the people who comprise it and understanding and respecting their culture, recent experiences, needs, and capacities.”
The piece goes on to praise Voss Foundation and Nest’s thoughtful approach, mentioning many of the practices that set Voss Foundation apart, like considering the needs of each individual community, and following up for years after implementation is complete.