Shared Interest, a New York-based nonprofit social investment fund working in Southern Africa, held its 20th anniversary awards gala at Gotham Hall in New York City.

The six extraordinary individuals who were honored were Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, social justice advocate and philanthropist the Rev. Mpho Tutu, South African filmmaker and producer of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” Anant Singh, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and anti-Apartheid and human rights activist Rosieda Shabodien. Avon Products, a leading global beauty company, received the Corporate Award at the gala.

Distinguished American and African leaders and top diplomats gathered for this celebratory annual event that recognizes leaders for their commitment and ongoing work toward economic democracy and development in Southern Africa. The black-tie affair began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dessert with host Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

“On the 20th anniversary of Shared Interest and South Africa’s democracy, we are deeply honored to pay tribute to these outstanding honorees for their contributions upholding the economic, social and political rights of all South Africans,” said Donna Katzin, executive director of Shared Interest. “Our honorees’ leadership and decades-long selfless efforts have helped to lay the foundations for a united, democratic and equitable future in South Africa.”

Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, Shared Interest has mobilized U.S. investors, philanthropists, corporations and faith-based organizations to invest in South Africa’s future by providing micro finance organizations, agricultural cooperatives, small businesses and low-cost housing organizations with access to capital. More than 2 million Black South Africans—the majority of them women—have benefited from Shared Interest’s $15 million loan guarantees and technical support from South African partner Thembani International Guarantee Fund to create jobs, launch small businesses and build affordable homes.

This year’s honorary chairs were Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor David Dinkins and Joyce Dinkins, Suzan Johnson Cook, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, South African Ambassador to the United Nations Kingsley Mamabolo and his wife, and Consul General George Monyemangene and his wife.

Shared Interest’s mission is to mobilize the resources for Southern Africa’s economically disenfranchised communities to sustain themselves and build equitable nations. Since Shared Interest began in 1994, its loan guarantees and technical support have benefited more than 2 million Black South Africans—the majority of them women. Shared Interest has never lost a cent of its investors’ interest or principal.

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