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Written by ZNews Africa Staff

Imagine if you could provide financial resources to enthusiastic entrepreneurs in emerging markets, empower women and fight climate change all at the same time? This is the work of New York-based non-profit and social investment fund, Shared Interest.

The organization mobilizes the resources for Southern Africa’s economically disenfranchised communities to sustain themselves and build equitable nations. International investors and partners on the ground enable Shared Interest to provide collateral, unlock local capital, and build capacity for entrepreneurs in low-income communities.

“You hear many people say ‘save the planet,’ ‘save the planet,’ ‘save the planet.’ The good news I want to say to you is the planet is just fine. The planet does not need saving,” remarked South African global activist Kumi Naidoo. Naidoo is the incoming secretary general of Amnesty International and former executive director of Greenpeace International.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 20: Incoming Amnesty International Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo accepts an award onstage during the Shared Interest 2018 Annual Spring Benefit at the Edison Ballroom on March 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Shared Interest)

“If we continue on the path that we are on… the end result will be we get the planet to the point where we do not have water. We don’t have soil and we cannot produce food. So let’s be very clear; If we continue on the path we are on, the end result is that we will be gone. The planet will still be here,” Naidoo emphasized.  

Climate change is of course not restricted to affecting Southern Africa. The problem is a global one.

“Whether you’re in South Africa or South Brooklyn, it’s the same challenge we all face,” urged Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City at a recent benefit hosted by the group.

The Mayor emphasized that the very real effects of climate change are not limited to particular geographic regions and can affect even the world’s most developed cities. “We in New York City got an extraordinary wake-up call when hurricane Sandy hit. It made climate change very personal for all of us. The worst natural disaster in the history of the city just five years ago,” he remarked.

“What Cape Town is going through now as the precious resource of water is slipping away, it’s a reminder that climate change is not a theory. It’s not abstract. It’s very personal for everyone who is affected by it.”

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio addresses a crowd at Shared Interest’s Annual Spring Benefit in Manhattan on March 20, 2018. (Photography by Eric Acquaye)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Representative to the United Nations address the very personal issue this is for women. In a statement she declared, “All around the world communities are grappling with the reality of climate change and frequently it’s overburdened women left to run households feed their families and care for loved ones who also feel the brunt of climate change. This is especially true in developing countries.”

The reality is climate change is an issue of survival for human beings. The planet will restore itself, with or without us. As Naidoo points out, “Once we become extinct as a species the forest will recover. The oceans will regain their salt. So do not worry about saving the planet. Understand that the struggle we are engaged in here is to ensure humanity fashions a way to coexist with nature.”

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