STATE DEPARTMENT —
A U.S. company that employs several hundred people in rural Indonesia, a firm that trained more than 12,000 farmers in Vietnam, and another that built a clean-energy facility in Uruguay are this year's recipients of the Awards for Corporate Excellence.
The three companies chosen for the State Department award were among 10 U.S. firms nominated as finalists for their projects around the world.
This annual awards program dates back to 1999 and highlights U.S. businesses that advance sustainable development, democratic values and ethical practices overseas.
"The goals that we are trying to achieve around the world — from building global health, energy and food security to expanding access to education for refugees — are only possible with the ingenuity, the engagement and the leadership of the private sector," said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Tuesday's awards ceremony.
Among this year's winners is Aaron Fishman, a former cook and brownie-company owner who opened Indonesia's first large-scale cashew processing plant in a poverty-stricken region of Bali.
The vast majority of the people that he hired were previously unemployed women.
"We deliberately located the factory in the village rather than in the city so that we could employ people like that," Fishman said in a VOA interview.
The State Department also recognized the Cargill food and agriculture company for a project in Vietnam that has involved training more than 12,000 farmers in sustainable development techniques.
The company has built 76 schools in the country and plans to build more.
"We feel that we have been a good and responsible guest in the country of Vietnam," said Cargill CEO David MacLennan.
In Uruguay, the Weyerhaeuser International forest products company built a clean-energy facility that can supply electricity to thousands of residents.
The company's employees are also active in community school and maintenance projects.
"It has just been a great partnership for not only the company but the community," said Weyerhaeuser vice president Kristen Sawin.
Since the program's inception, the State Department has recognized companies for enterprises in countries including Pakistan, Cameroon, Fiji and the Slovak Republic.
The program is spearheaded by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
"The fact is that American companies are some of our best ambassadors around the world," said Charles Rivkin, the assistant secretary of state for the bureau.