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Decade of Impact: CARE's Michelle Nunn on tackling poverty through partnerships

A Q&A with the president and CEO of CARE USA

November 20, 2018

michellenunn Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE USA Why does CARE focus on investing in women and girls in the world’s poorest communities?

Girls and women bear the brunt of poverty, and they are also the key to overcoming it. When a girl finishes secondary school, her children are twice as likely to live to the age of five just by virtue of her having that education. For every additional year of school she gets, her family’s earnings will be 10 to 20 percent more over her lifetime. When you empower a girl or a woman, she becomes a catalyst for positive change whose success benefits everyone around her.

How did CARE become connected to Cargill?

Nearly 60 years ago, Cargill decided that instead of sending out Christmas cards, they would make a donation to CARE. That small and meaningful investment evolved into our extraordinarily strategic and well-aligned partnership where we now are in eight countries together. The partnership has changed 2.2 million lives. This year we are celebrating a Decade of Impact together.

How did the partnership change 10 years ago?

We took what was already a formidable and important partnership and focused on the threshold of impact we both aspire to. We looked at our collective geographic assets and shared objectives to determine how we could do something remarkable. We called it the Rural Development Initiative.

How has the Rural Development Initiative impacted women and girls?

We are creating more prosperous farmers, more nutritionally secure households and more resilient communities. As I travel the world, I frequently have the opportunity to see the impact of the work we do together. When I traveled to Guatemala, I was struck by the story of Maria, a woman involved with the CARE-Cargill Nurturing the Future Project. Maria has gone from subsistence farming to now using new skills and connections to increase her production, adequately feed her six children, send them to school, buy new furniture for her home and invest in tools and livestock. She has been able to change her future—and her children’s futures—as a result of the program.

What makes this partnership unique?

This is a preeminent partnership for us because it embodies the integrated, holistic approach where we are pairing philanthropic objectives and business goals. For example, Cargill has real expertise in the cocoa supply chain. We wouldn’t be able to do scalable change if Cargill wrote us a check without the expertise, personnel and human capital, and supply chain access. It’s the best of all worlds because it enables the investment to go further and solidifies a sustainable supply chain for Cargill’s business. We’re helping Cargill employees understand how their company is making the world a better place.

Driving the Sustainable Development Goals forward

Cargill has a rich history of building strong local, regional and global partnerships. These partnerships are critical to progressing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which provide a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable world.

Michelle Grogg, Cargill vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability, recently co-authored an article about five areas of practice that help the Cargill-CARE partnership drive the SDGs forward. Read it in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.