(www.benineducationfund.org) is a U.S.-based 501c3 organization whose mission is to help students in Benin finish high school so they can provide for themselves and contribute to their communities. Founded in 1998 by Alphonse and Karen Kouagou, BEF provides scholarships to students based on performance and need, and commits to funding all 7 years of their secondary education. Funding comes primarily from individual donors in the United States and Canada.
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Benin is a small country in West Africa that sits on the Gulf of Guinea near the equator. It borders Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. Unlike many other countries in Africa, Benin has never suffered a bloody coup and has remained relatively stable since declaring independence from France in 1960. Benin was one of the first countries to qualify for assistance from the U.S.-based Millennium Challenge Corporation, in 2004, because it has “demonstrated a commitment to political and economic freedom, investments in education and health, control of corruption, and respect for civil liberties and the rule of law”.
The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. The GDP per capita is estimated at $1100, and many people still make less than $1 a day.
Fast Facts about Benin:
- Population: 8.3 million (2008 est.)
- Median age: 17.9 years
- Life expectancy: 54 years
- Literacy est: 40.9% (male 56.2%; female 26.5%)
- Former Name: Dahomey
- Independence: August 1, 1960 (from France)
- Government: Multi-party democracy
- President: Thomas YAYI Boni
- Capital City: Porto Novo
- Commercial Capital: Cotonou
- Other Cities: Abomey, Parakou, Natitingou
- Official Language: French
- Other Languages: Over 50, the most common is Fon
Currency: CFA Franc