The Simmons Jewelry Company introduced a plan Tuesday (Dec. 5) in New York, to
empower African communities where diamonds are a natural resource. Simmons
announced the establishment of the Diamond Empowerment Fund, hours after returning
from a nine day mission exploring the diamond industries of South Africa, and
have witnessed…that diamonds can be the difference between extreme poverty
and total stability," Simmons said "All of the HIV clinics, all the
hospitals, all the schools, all the civil servants, all the doctors, the lawyers
are funded by diamonds."The
Simmons Company’s delegation, which included Hip-Hop Action Summit Network
CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis, found that contrary to frequent negative publicity, Africa’s
diamond industries are a critical aspect of these nations’ economies.
“I got to get
a first hand understanding of how the diamond industry contributes significantly
to the empowering of a lot of brothers and sisters in Africa where diamonds are
a natural resource," Dr. Chavis explained. Simmons
along with Dr. Chavis flew to Mozambique to meet with former South African President
Nelson Mandela, to better understand the needs of these communities rich in natural
Jim Jones came out to support Simmons’ diamond initiative, wearing a large
diamond encrusted medallion. "As
rappers we spend tens of millions of dollars a year on jewelry alone," Jim
Jones told AllHipHop.com. "Not just me myself, I’m talking about as
a general effort. It’s a service that goes back to the African people that’s
been mining all the diamonds that we wear. We should learn about purchasing from
them, as opposed to just giving everybody our money because we like what we see.”
isn’t the first time that the Hip Hop community has been vocal about the
Diamond Industry. Kanye
West criticized the profits of conflict diamonds in his song “Diamonds from
Sierra Leon" and the Simmons Jewelry Company has maintained the use of conflict
free diamonds as well. Conflict
Diamonds, also known as Blood Diamonds, are used by rebel groups to fuel conflict
and civil war. Conflict
Diamonds have recently received increased attention, with this weeks’ release
of Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film Blood Diamonds.
Simmons, disturbed by the negative media attention the industry is receiving,
would like to change the overall perception of Africa’s diamonds.
The company’s delegation, who accepted the Diamond Information Center’s
invitation to fact find, was accompanied by team of photographers and film producers.
ever had an agenda in any of my businesses bigger than lifting up my people,”
Simmons said in reaction to the criticism that was received for his support of
the diamond industry. “We tend to loose our focus. We have, a positive story
about African empowerment, about African self determination, about resources being
extracted as natural resources and beneficiation derived by local communities."
As a fund raising effort for the Diamond Empowerment Fund, the company has launched
a new line of jewelry called Green Initiative, from which twenty five percent
of the proceeds go to support the diamond communities. The
Diamond Empowerment Fund will support educational and skill development in schools,
colleges and other institutions throughout South Africa and Botswana.