International Community Trust Funds: Freeport-McMoRan Leads The Way

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – There is a real and growing need for new forms of investment for public services. One way is through community trust funds, also known as social funds, where the finances are owned and managed by a local community to achieve sustainable regeneration of a local area or solve a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues. These types of funds are independent, yet work in partnership with other private, public and third sector organisations. They are set up to reduce dependency on grant supports by generating income through enterprise and the ownership of assets. These new forms of social investment need to be accessible and flexible, operating outside political cycles, and be able to drive innovation and encourage local partners to work towards common goals.

A great example of community trust funds are the ones set up by Freeport-McMoRan in Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and the U.S., which are managed by community members who determine the allocation of funds to programs that focus on education, health and economic development.

One of the focal points of Freeport-McMoRan’s North American contributions was supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Freeport-McMoRan places emphasis on programs and initiatives that improve STEM education to help students gain the skills necessary for success in a global, knowledge-based economy and society. The programs supported are designed or selected for their ability to increase student interest, improve teacher quality and confidence, and ultimately, improve student achievement and outcomes in STEM disciplines, with the ultimate goals of inspiring them to pursue post-secondary degrees or career and technical certifications – and ultimately careers – in mining and other STEM related industries. Freeport-McMoRan’s six community investment funds in North America contributed almost $3 million to community-directed projects in 2014!

Freeport-McMoRan’s community investment in South America was approximately $9 million in 2014, which included contributions for economic development and infrastructure, education and training; and safety, health and the environment. Its Cerro Verde operation near Arequipa, Peru continues to invest in a number of initiatives. In 2014, 130 female entrepreneurs completed the DreamBuilder: Creator of Businesses for Women, which worked in partnership with Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. The women gained the knowledge and skills necessary to start and/or grow their own small businesses in the Arequipa Regio. Importantly the entrepreneurs who completed the program reported an increase in their incomes and an improvement in their family’s quality of life.

It is clear that the private sector is a key development player, with foreign direct investment to developing countries. In 2013 it totaled $758.2 bn, compared to $134.5bn in total global flows of official development assistance (ODA). The ultimate aim for companies like Freeport-McMoRan who are investing in communities through social investments is to ensure that these funds are designed effectively to empower communities to become sustainable.

Photo Credit: Freeport-McMoran/3BL Media