The Caterpillar Foundation’s Role in Africa

September 20, 2016

For decades, Caterpillar has been part of some of the largest infrastructure projects in Africa. While the company has worked to help build the societal infrastructure there, the Caterpillar Foundation has been working to help build the continent’s human infrastructure.

The Caterpillar Foundation’s mission is to alleviate poverty and put people on the path to prosperity. We do this by investing in programs in communities around the world that provide access to opportunities to help people reach their full potential.

Working with its non-profit partners, the Foundation has invested more than $50 million since 2010 to fund projects in the Africa / Middle East region. These investments are benefiting hundreds of thousands living in poverty in Africa with access to education, clean water, sanitation and microfinance.

Take for example Suzie, a grandmother of six, living in Uganda. When learning of plans for a university to be built in her town, Suzie saw an opportunity to provide housing for students. She used a loan from Opportunity International, an organization the Foundation supports, to expand a building in town to create 17 rooms, each housing several students. And, she used other Opportunity loans to pay the school fees for her own grandchildren to attend school. Suzie’s entrepreneurial spirit, supported by Opportunity, has helped more than 50 students go to school. Along the way, she has created jobs at the hostel, supporting even more families and ultimately helping to create a culture of economic resiliency.

Access to a quality education is another focus area that helps break the cycle of generational poverty, contributes to business growth and builds strong economies. The International Youth Foundation (IYF), a longtime partner, is focused on ensuring that youth develop the leadership, technical and life skills to earn a livelihood. Our support of IYF has helped provide job training and employment services for hundreds of unemployed youth in South Africa.

The Foundation believes that in order to truly make a difference in alleviating poverty, root cause investing is necessary. That’s why in recent years, the Foundation has placed an increased importance on policy and advocacy work.

One example of that approach includes the Foundation’s support of The ONE Campaign. Around the world, approximately 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, and one billion more only have access to unreliable electricity networks. Energy access plays a significant role in disrupting the spiral of poverty. Without electricity, women give birth in dark hospitals, children’s vaccines cannot be refrigerated, students are unable to study after sundown, and doing business is nearly impossible. With the Foundation’s support, ONE’s advocacy work helped lead to the passing of U.S. legislation (Electrify Africa Act) earlier this year, spurring the U.S. government to create investment opportunities to bring 50 million Africans power by 2020. 

To learn more about the Foundation’s work in Africa and in the communities in which we live and work around the world, visit Follow the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter, too. 

Caterpillar Foundation

Since 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has been dedicated to transforming lives in the communities where we live and work around the world.

Learn More


Together.Stronger. is a catalyst for shared prosperity – a collaborative impact platform that unites businesses, non-profits, government, and citizens to combine their strengths to alleviate poverty for millions of people worldwide.

Learn More