Far from the din of Washington, Ivanka Trump toured businesses run by women in Ethiopia on Sunday while promoting a White House global economic programme for women.
President Donald Trump”s daughter and senior adviser visited a coffee shop and textile company in Addis Ababa. It was her first stop in Africa on a four-day trip to Ethiopia and Ivory Coast on behalf of a White House project intended to boost 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.
Aiming to offer assistance and learn about the struggles of women in business, she took part in a traditional coffee ceremony, visited with weavers and announced new financial support for businesses.
“Investing in women is smart development policy and it”s smart business,” Trump said, sitting in Dumerso Coffee, a dimly lighted space with a woven ceiling, tile floor and colourful paintings. Alongside were women who work in the industry. “It”s also in our security interest, because women, when we”re empowered, foster peace and stability,” she said.
This is Ivanka Trump”s first visit to Africa since the president launched the Women”s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. It”s a programme she hopes will outlast an administration better known for “America First” isolationism.
She has drawn praise for taking on this project and for making the trip. But thousands of miles from Washington, she is sure to be shadowed by her father”s efforts to cut international aid, as well as his past disparaging comments about Africa.
Ivanka Trump arrived in Ethiopia early Sunday, flying commercial.
She first visited the coffee shop and then went to the textile and craft manufacturer Muya, where she was greeted by dancers and chatted with women seated at colourful looms. She took a seat at one herself. She also noted that she was in the country with Africa”s second-highest population.
“Ethiopia”s success is Africa”s success,” she said. “We learned today that the quality of the coffee is second to none. You shared with me that Ethiopian cotton rivals cotton anywhere in the world. And then of course the skills and the craftsmanship of the Ethiopian people. We hope more people realize their full potential.” Ivanka Trump was accompanied by Mark Green, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, and David Bohigian, the acting president of the Overseas Private Investment Corp., which provides loans, loan guarantees and political risk insurance, funding projects that stretch across continents and industries. OPIC, working with Ivanka Trump, last year announced a project geared at women.
At the coffee shop they announced a loan, issued by a local women-focused bank and backed by USAID, for a coffee business owned by women. At Muya, they announced additional OPIC financing.
Later in the trip, she plans to meet with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. In Ivory Coast, she will visit a cocoa farm and participate in a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa. That gathering is part of the World Bank”s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, a programme that Ivanka Trump pushed the bank to introduce.
She will be joined in Ivory Coast by a US congressional delegation that will include Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the White House.