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Umicore extends support to EIGHT: empowering people from Central and Eastern Africa in extreme poverty for a better future


Umicore will continue its partnership with EIGHT, an initiative that promotes positive change and sustainable development with unconditional cash transfers in Artisanal Scale Mining (ASM) communities in Central and Eastern Africa. As a responsible player in the global supply chain, we are fully aware of the risks linked to ASM - such as child labor, human rights abuses, poor safety conditions and health risks - which is why we exclude ASM from our supply chain. Nonetheless, we acknowledge the need to contribute to empowering these communities so that they can lift themselves out of poverty. By acting together, we can change the status quo and help make supply chains fairer. Therefore, we partner with different initiatives, including our collaboration with EIGHT, to make a difference.

The main objective of EIGHT is to provide communities facing extreme poverty with unconditional cash transfers. This innovative approach acknowledges the realities of mining communities, where survival often takes precedence over future considerations. Due to the lack of opportunities and choices, this leads to a cycle of hardship where individuals are left with no alternate paths for a better future. Every villager receives monthly cash transfers via mobile money, while the mothers or female care givers receive the amount for their children. Lisa Zschunke, our Responsible Sourcing Manager, explains, "This regular, additional income not only provides a sense of security but also enables individuals to move beyond mere survival."

"Unconditional cash transfers allow families to consider their future, invest in meaningful ventures, and even explore new career paths. This empowerment goes beyond just providing immediate relief; it creates a pathway to sustainable self-sufficiency. The impact of this support can be seen in initiatives like the pilot projects in Busibi, Uganda, and Lutala, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here, communities have used the support to establish ventures like chicken farms and village shops, leading to increased confidence and ability to invest in their children's education."

Lisa Zschunke, Umicore's Responsible Sourcing Manager

It is important to note that the success of the EIGHT initiative is not based solely on personal accounts. The independent partner IPIS (International Peace Information Service) closely monitors and follows up on the initiative and has consistently demonstrated that it has a diverse and positive impact on the communities involved. This method of evidence-based analysis ensures that the positive effects are immediate and sustainable.

Umicore recently committed to extending the support for another four years, covering the cash transfers for two villages, each receiving support for two years. The first village is Masimelo, situated in the 3T-rich area of the Maniema province, home to 256 adults and 265 children, totaling 521 residents. The aim is to make a contribution to support and empower mining communities, enabling them to create lasting positive change for themselves.