The Roger Federer Foundation is supporting an initiative to develop early-childhood education in Malawi. Together with local non-governmental organization Action Aid Malawi, the Foundation aims to provide sustained support for around 80 community-based childhood centers (CBCCs) over a ten-year period. The first objective is to improve access to these centers; the second is to increase their quality.
This involves not only construction work but also measures such as providing training for staff, raising awareness and mobilizing parents, as well as improving management. All in all, it is hoped that more than 50,000 children will one day benefit from the Foundation's commitment. "Education really matters for children," says Roger Federer. "It can never be taken away from them."
Active Involvement of Target Population
To ensure the initiative has a lasting impact, the Roger Federer Foundation places a major emphasis on ensuring that the local community is involved in drawing up the various projects right from the outset, and actively take responsibility for implementing them. "We only cooperate with communities where a CBCC has already existed for a number of years but is not being run as well as it could – whether due to a shortage of resources, or because the right expertise is not available," says Janine Händel, the Foundation's CEO.
Driving Force for Prosperity
The Malawi initiative is made possible largely thanks to a sponsorship partnership between Roger Federer and Credit Suisse under which the bank is channeling one million US dollars into the Foundation each year until 2019. Fact is, the two partners share many similarities in terms of the focus of their commitment to society. One of the pillars of the Credit Suisse corporate responsibility strategy, for example, is education. In 2008, the bank launched an initiative aimed at expanding and improving education facilities for children and young people in the countries of Africa, Latin America, the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East, and Europe. Credit Suisse firmly believes that education constitutes the basis of a better life for millions of people and is the driving force for prosperity and social change.
Giving the Poorest an Opportunity
Roger Federer set up his Foundation back in 2003. "Early on, my family and I decided that if I became successful in sports, I would give part of my winnings back to society," explains the tennis professional. The stated objective of the Foundation is to facilitate access to education for children and improve the quality of education provision in places where the financial resources available would otherwise be non-existent or insufficient. The Roger Federer Foundation focuses its support on projects in southern Africa, where its commitment is concentrated at primary-school level and early-childhood education. That the Foundation's focal region is Africa is in part because it is there that poverty is at its most acute. But his personal proximity to South Africa also plays an important role, says Federer: The Foundation's first project was realized in his mother's home country. The Foundation now has a presence in Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe too. In these countries, the Roger Federer Foundation cooperates exclusively with local non-governmental organizations and on a partnership basis. The stated goal is to make a lasting, positive impact. "We're pursuing a long-term approach. Generally speaking, we support projects lasting from three to ten years," says Federer.
Facts about Malawi
• Population: 13.1 million
• Poverty: 40 percent live below the poverty line
• Area: 118,480 km2
• Average life expectancy: 52.4 years
• Nutrition: 19 percent of children under the age of five are malnourished
• HIV/AIDS: 12 percent of people aged 15–49 have HIV/AIDS
• Official national languages: English and Chewa
• Main exports: Tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton
• Currency: Malawi kwacha
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