3M Shines A Light On a Small Village in Southern Ethiopia

by LP Green, II

3M is leveraging innovation, diversity and technology to improve lives. Dedicated to making lives better through its more than 50,000 products ranging from personal safety, automotive and office products to brightness enhancement film for electronic displays, 3M is not just a company that creates; it is also a company that cares.  Through its strategic philanthropic arm, 3Mgives, the company develops and invests in community programs that improve lives.

The company’s commitment to improving lives is evident in the work of 3M’s Team Africa’s, one of the company’s Business Resource Teams. Through a partnership with 3Mgives, Team Africa recently invested in solar lamps for a village in Ethiopia. Abdul Dire, a 3M senior technical service engineer and a member of Team Africa, was concerned about his hometown of Koba Adi, a small village in Southern Ethiopia.  The village needed clean water, light and a school that went beyond the fourth grade. Using his own money, as well as getting financial support from 3M’s Team Africa, Abdul bought the raw materials and paid for the design to add the 5th and 6th grades to the school. The people in the village built the school and were so inspired by the commitment of Abdul and Team Africa, they worked together to add classrooms for grades 7-8.

Now that they had additional classrooms, the students still needed light to study after dark.  Using 3M’s expertise in light management and reflective film, Team Africa worked with a non-profit company to make their solar lamps brighter using 3M film. 3Mgives donated reflective film to the non-profit solar energy company to enhance all of their lamps. Team Africa facilitated the assembly of solar lamps that were sent to students in Koba Adi. As a result, students no longer had to use kerosene lamps to study, which decreased their exposure to toxic smoke.  Thanks to Team Africa, the students now had portable lamps that provide 3-4 hours of bright LED lighting and the ability to store energy and charge electronic devices.

“This is a great example of how our Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) and Business Resource Teams (BRTs) are increasing the relevance of our contributions and helping us to reach more diverse communities”, said Kim Price, Vice President of 3Mgives and the 3M Foundation.  Price leads the effort to ensure that 3M’s strategic philanthropy and global community engagement are relevant and impactful.  “3Mgives harnesses the power of the 3M Foundation, product donations and our people to make a positive difference in the lives of communities and customers and to develop the next generation of innovators”.

In a bold new effort to better utilize the talents of the company’s diverse workforce, 3M recently expanded the role of 3Mgives to include its eleven Employee Resource Networks.  To integrate the ERNs into 3Mgives, the company recently appointed Meredith Crosby as Director, 3Mgives Strategic Initiatives. “This project is a great example of the ways our ERNs are building on 3M’s heritage of collaboration to further advance our engagement in diverse communities around the globe,” said Crosby.  In addition to the engagement of ERNs in the company’s philanthropy, Crosby is also developing the strategy for 3M’s extensive work around STEM initiatives and education equity.  “We believe in using all of our resources to find innovative solutions to complex challenges” she added.

The company is committed to building on its long-standing history of strategic investments to advance local communities. Since the inception of the  3M Foundation in 1953, 3Mgives has invested more than $1.3 billion in cash and products to support education, community and the environment throughout the U.S. 3M’s investments are bolstered by a strong volunteer program. At 3M, employees share their time and talent to improve every life.  Last year, 3Mers volunteered more than 250,000 hours and raised an additional $1.7 million through matching donations.  “With the alignment of 3Mgives and our ERNs, we expect those numbers to dramatically increase,” Price concluded.


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