U.S. Ambassador’s Small Grants Signing Ceremony

signing ceremonyRemarks By U.S. Ambassador D. Bruce Wharton

U.S. Ambassador’s Small Grants Signing Ceremony

Mangwanani; Salibonani lonke; Tatenda ndafara kuvapano.

Good morning – honorable ministers, members of parliament, government officials, traditional leaders, councilors, district administrators, distinguished grantees, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen.  As the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the U.S. Embassy.

This morning, I am really honored to be with you to formalize our support to the development programs that you and your communities have created across Zimbabwe.  Through you, we join today with communities in Matabeleland North, Bulawayo Metropolitan, Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, and Manicaland to work together to strengthen Zimbabwe.

You and the good work you are doing is exactly why we are gathered together this morning: to celebrate your exceptional organizations and the great work you are doing to improve your communities.

Our assistance comes to you from the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program, a program I hold near and dear to my heart.  In fact, if I didn’t hold the position of Ambassador, I would like to have Mutsa and Julie’s job!

As Julie and Mutsa mentioned, the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program started in Zimbabwe shortly after independence in 1980.  The Self-Help Program is distinct from the larger-scale assistance carried out by other parts of the U.S. government, such as the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, the Center for Disease Control, CDC, and our Public Affairs programming.

This program focuses on providing targeted grants to assist small-scale, short-term, community-driven development projects that bring about tangible and immediate improvements in people’s lives.  The program has awarded more than $2 million for community-driven projects over the past ten years.  As you know, this is a competitive program with guidelines and an application process open to all communities in Zimbabwe.  Though we seek good geographic distribution of the projects, the program is apolitical, open to any Zimbabweans who put together a proposal to improve their community.

The program also helps to bring Americans and the people of Zimbabwe closer together.  It helps Americans better understand the challenges and potential of Zimbabwe, and helps Zimbabweans better understand U.S. policies and programs meant to support the people of this great country.

Today, we are awarding grants worth $149,000 to diverse community organizations working in eight of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces.

Four of those grants are funded through our President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, Fund.  These include:
Chiyubunuzyo Arts and Culture Association;
Midlands AIDS Service Organization;
National Training and Conference of the Arts in Zimbabwe, and;
Nyanga Community Development Trust.

We also have four grants awarded funded through the United States African Development Foundation, or USADF.  These grantees are:

  • Lupane Women’s Center;
  • Sustainable Tourism Agenda Zimbabwe;
  • Rupere Primary School, and;
  • Bright Tomorrows Trust Zimbabwe.

We are pleased to award six grants through the Special Self-Help Fund, including:

  • Bhagu Village Women’s Group;
  • Chenhuta Secondary School;
  • Domboshava Community Development Association;
  • Guzha Primary School;
  • Kurainashe Organization, and;
  • Zimbabwe Opportunities Industrialization Centers for Taguta Women’s Group.

Finally, we are awarding one grant through the Julia Taft Refugee Fund to Jesuit Refugee Services.

Each of these grants represents a partnership between the people of the United States and the people of Zimbabwe.  Through these grants, we can support your work to assist people living with HIV and AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children, people with disabilities, and people who are economically disadvantaged.  Each of your projects also provides a model for others to follow.  I hope that our community-focused, apolitical, rigorous, transparent and outcome-driven grant process also provides a model for others to follow.

I also hope you will all be extremely proud to know that your projects succeeded in the face of competition from the more than 200 applications we received!  Makorokoto, amhlope!

As you are just starting on your Self-Help Program grant, I want to share one more example of a past grantee, in addition to Rafiki Girls Center who we just heard from, that implemented a successful project and have turned their activities into a sustainable, income-generating enterprise.

Light to Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe recently implemented a peanut butter making project.

Through the constant involvement of their members, their hard work securing markets and buyers for their peanut butter, and their careful management of the grant, they generated a profit from their peanut butter sales and re-invested these profits into expanding production capacity.

They were able to purchase another roasting machine, a de-huller, and a grinding machine as well as stock up on raw materials.

Even though the life of the grant is now finished, peanut butter production is growing, profits are increasing, and project beneficiaries continue to receive food assistance, monthly allowances, and assistive devices, such as crutches and wheelchairs, paid for by the project profits.

We recognize that there may be speed bumps and challenges during your project implementation.  Do not let that deter you.  My colleagues in the Self-Help Program office are here to help you solve any problems and find solutions to any unforeseen challenges that might arise during the life of the grant.  Please take advantage of their expertise and keep the team updated on how each of your grants is progressing.

We wish each of your organizations the best of luck as you continue your good work in Zimbabwe and we are happy to be able to contribute to your efforts.  In two or three years’ time, I hope we will be highlighting your projects up here during a future signing ceremony!

I look forward to signing grants agreements with each of you in a moment, and again, congratulations for your accomplishments.

My colleagues, Julie and Mutsa, will now call each one of our new grantees up front for the signing.

Siyabonga. Tatenda. Thank you.