After fourteen years of success in the financial sector, Amy Towers turned her full-time attention to raising her four sons and running her philanthropic foundation. She established the Nduna Foundation in 2007 with the intent to focus work on nutrition, human rights, and conservation, primarily in conflict and post-conflict countries in Africa.
Ms. Towers made her first trip to Africa in 2005 during the height of the food crisis in Niger. There she found that many of the causes of severe acute malnutrition in children were preventable. This fueled her passion to begin investing in areas, people and programs that proved early money mattered and would prompt other donors to follow.
This could not have been more evident than in 2006 when Ms. Towers’ investment and partnership with UNICEF in tankering water into some of the most dangerous regions of Somalia would not only prove that it could be done, but would prompt others to follow. Her $500,000 investment resulted in more than $5 million of donations from others.
Another example is her investment in the construction of a facility to make ready to eat therapeutic food (RUTF) in Ethiopia. Today, this project is often referenced as a model of how partnerships can work with local players. Today, this facility is a thriving enterprise, providing life-saving RUTF to that region’s most vulnerable children. One of the very few models of local production success.
Since her initial trip to Niger in 2005, Ms. Towers has travelled to Ethiopia, Gabon, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, and others. She has traveled to remote regions at considerable personal risk in order to research the interventions that worked best and where early money mattered. She maintains a diverse portfolio of partners who manage a wide range of projects all intended to effect sustainable change in the lives of people who would otherwise be forgotten and live without a voice.
In 2009, in partnership with UNICEF Zimbabwe, Ms. Towers co-founded CCORE, the Collaborating Centre for Operational Research and Evaluation in Harare, Zimbabwe. CCORE was created to improve the capacity to gather, analyze and share research data in support of aligning high quality, evidence-based programming and policy-making for the entire region. It was a model of regional collaboration and information sharing, and as it’s growth exceeded capacity in Harare, recently relocated to Nairobi, Kenya.
Towers’ partners include UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, The Elders, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, MANA Nutritive Aid, and others. She currently serves on the Boards of Human Rights Watch, MANA Nutritive Aid, Women for Women International, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and on the Board of Advisors to The Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela and chaired by Kofi Annan.
She was recognized for her work by the US Fund for UNICEF in 2006 when she received the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award; by the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 2011 with the Caring for Congo Award; and was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 2013.
Ms. Towers has grown increasingly more focused on human rights, especially violence against women and children. Ms. Towers serves as a Trustee for Women for Women International and is a member of the Fundraising and Marketing Committee.