Russell Simmons Selling Jewelry to Raise Money for Africa

Hip-hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons said Tuesday he’s selling jewelry to help raise money for the development and empowerment of Africans, the Associated Press reports.

The 49-year-old entrepreneur announced his “Green Initiative” jewelry, which is manufactured and designed by Simmons Jewelry Co., the AP reports. Twenty-five percent of proceeds from sales will go toward the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which will support institutions, like schools and colleges, in South Africa and Botswana and help boost economic development.

Simmons’ recently visited South Africa and Botswana to tour diamond mines and factories.

Simmons Jewelry Co. President Scott Rauch said the company’s diamonds are conflict-free.

“Our purpose was to see how we could have an affect on the diamond industry,” he reportedly said at a news conference Tuesday.

“Africans need this industry,” Simmons reportedly said, touting the economic benefits to the region, like the funding of many HIV/AIDS clinics.

Some officials say loopholes remain in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which is the diamond industry’s response to growing world concern about blood diamonds. It was established in 2002 and aims to stem the flow of conflict diamonds by forcing participants to certify the origins of the diamonds being traded.

“The Kimberly Process is very new, but it does work, and we’re trying to make it better,” Simmons reportedly said.