WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House initiative spearheaded by Ivanka Trump to help women in developing countries get ahead economically announced its first batch of grants on Wednesday: $27 million for 14 projects in 22 countries, mostly in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative was launched in February with an initial investment of $50 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
A little more than half of that amount, $27 million, went to an "incentive" fund for partnerships with private businesses and other groups. The 14 projects sharing the $27 million were chosen from over 120 entries, administration officials said Wednesday.
The projects are meant to help women with employment and entrepreneurship and to provide women in business with access to financing and other assistance.
They include an effort in Rwanda to help 1,400 women get into the central African country's fast-growing energy sector; a Latin American initiative that aims to equip 8,700 women with the skills needed to work tech-sector jobs in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru; and support for 5,000 women working in Indonesia's poultry industry.
USAID Administrator Mark Green and Ivanka Trump discussed the partnerships and the goal of helping women get ahead economically at an event Wednesday with representatives from three of the 14 programs.
Ivanka Trump, the elder daughter of President Donald Trump and a senior White House adviser, said she welcomed the "enthusiastic" response to the program, whose goal is to help empower 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.
She said the initiative is just beginning. But, she said, "we have no doubt it is going to enable us to really achieve extraordinary things" while spending U.S. taxpayer money "responsibly."
Green told the audience of White House and administration officials, members of Congress, business leaders and representatives of nonprofit groups that every proposal was subjected to a "rigorous program" of checking and double checking "because this is precious money."
He said the initiative is about tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the women in these countries.
"You have people who are simply looking for a chance," he said.
Ivanka Trump has made economic empowerment of women a focus of her White House tenure and has highlighted the issue during trips abroad, including to Africa this year to promote the initiative.
Trump's 2020 budget proposal asks Congress for an additional $100 million for the initiative, though he has suggested cuts to other foreign aid.
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