Ebola: Singapore-listed Olam donates $318,000 to fight disease in West Africa

SINGAPORE - Global agri-business group Olam International said on Thurday that it has donated US$250,000 (S$318,000) to help fight Ebola.

The mainboard-listed company said the move follows its education and awareness-raising efforts across its African processing units, plantations and smallholder operations.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will receive US$200,000 and a further US$50,000 will be given to the World Cocoa Foundation, which will be making donations to the International Federation of Red Cross, the Red Crescent Societies and Caritas on behalf of the global cocoa industry.

Olam is also launching an internal fundraising initiative amongst its 23,000 employees for MSF.

Earlier this week, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, announced they were donating US$25 million to the fight against the worst-ever Ebola outbreak in west Africa, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives and which the World Health Organization says might see over 10,000 new cases a week.

Olam said that over the past months it has been working across Africa with health agencies and governments to educate over 9,000 employees, as well as its smallholder networks about Ebola prevention, identification, and treatment. The company has also implemented health screening for its workforce in Nigeria, the only country currently affected where Olam has a direct presence.

Sunny Verghese, Olam's group managing director and chief executive officer, said the donation reinforces Olam's commitment in the fight against Ebola.

"As an agri-business founded in Nigeria 25 years ago, we would not be where we are today - which includes 25 African countries - without the communities in which we operate," he said in the statement.

Said James Kliffen, head of fundraising for MSF UK: "A donation of this magnitude from Olam is truly remarkable. This support couldn't come at a more crucial time for MSF, as our staff in West Africa face unprecedented challenges."