More than 150 diamond and jewelry industry leaders, diplomats, government officials, delegates to the Kimberley Process Intersessional, philanthropists, and other dignitaries attended the "Gala Salute to Botswana: Diamonds Empower Africa" on June 5, 2012 at the Embassy of Botswana in Washington, DC. The gala event was co-hosted by the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) and the Embassy of Botswana to the United States.
“Our industry supports the empowerment of Africa. We are pleased to pay tribute and to salute the outstanding progress that Botswana continues to achieve, and that represents the good that diamonds do to improve the quality of life of people and communities in Africa.”
H.E. Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, Ambassador of the Republic of Botswana to the United States, said, "on the night of the event it was Botswana's time to shine as a model for what is possible when good governance is combined with good corporate social responsibility and best business practices from the private sector and government. Botswana's economic wealth and social well-being are due to being the top producer of diamonds by carat weight and value in the world. Careful stewardship of this most precious resource with our business partners exemplifies that public/private partnership works in a democracy such as Botswana."
Some of the VIP attendees at the gala included H.E. ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, chair of the Kimberley Process; H.E. Ebrahim Rasool, ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the United States; H.E. Ephraim M. Hlophe, ambassador of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the United States; Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council; and Jacob Thamage, Coordinator of the Botswana Diamond Hub.
Phyllis Bergman, president of the Diamond Empowerment Fund, emphasized, "Our industry supports the empowerment of Africa. We are pleased to pay tribute and to salute the outstanding progress that Botswana continues to achieve, and that represents the good that diamonds do to improve the quality of life of people and communities in Africa."
The gala's lead sponsor was Tiffany & Co. Supporter sponsors of the gala were Exelco, Julius Klein Group, Leo Schachter Diamonds, Signet Jewelers, and Wilderness Safaris in Botswana. The Dalumi Group, creators of the Swana Diamond, showed their support during the evening by making the winning bid for the exclusive Wilderness Safari auction package which includes an arranged tour by Debswana of the world's richest diamond mine, Jwaneng, and a private tour by DTC Botswana of their newly opened offices in Gaborone.
A highlight of the program was a stirring speech by Patience Osei who is a student scholar in Botswana's Top Achievers Program and which is supported by the Government of Botswana in partnership with the Diamond Empowerment Fund. In thanking the Diamond Empowerment Fund and the Botswana Top Achievers Program Patience stated, "You have given me the opportunity to change my life and to enhance the future of Botswana. I will not let you down."
The Diamond Empowerment Fund is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop the next generation of leaders in Africa by supporting education initiatives in diamond-producing nations. www.diamondempowerment.org.