Director, Actor, Writer, Producer & Founder of Eastern Congo Initiative
In addition to a successful career as an actor, writer
and director, Ben Affleck is also a passionate
advocate and philanthropist.
In 2009, Ben founded the Eastern Congo Initiative
(ECI), a grant-making and advocacy organization
focused on investing in and working with the people
of eastern Congo. ECI believes that local, communitybased approaches are essential to creating a
sustainable and successful society in eastern Congo,
and woks to increase the quality and quantity of
investments in the region.
Since 2007, Ben has made nine trips to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a focus on
the eastern provinces. He has focused on understanding the causes and consequences of conflict on
the continent, and learning about African solutions to the problems affecting the DRC. In May 2008,
a film crew from ABC’s Nightline joined Ben on a trip to the DRC, meeting with a diverse set of
individuals – including President Joseph Kabila; former armed group leader Laurent Nkunda;
refugees and internally displaced people; former child soldiers; and leaders from local and
international NGOs, among others – to gather a range of viewpoints on the issues in the region.
Nightline produced a full episode about the trip narrated by Ben; it aired in June 2008.
In late 2008, he directed a short film and public service announcement, “Gimme Shelter,” about the
humanitarian crisis in the DRC. The film was utilized as part of the UNHCR’s international campaign
to aid those displaced by violence.
In 2010 ECI released its first white paper, “Strengthening United States Foreign Policy in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.” In conjunction with the release of the paper at CSIS, Ben served as a
panelist with Senator John Kerry (D-MA); Senator-elect John Boozman (R-AR); Johnnie Carson,
Assistant Secretary for the bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Tony Gambino,
Independent Consultant; Mvemba Dizolele, Hoover Institution; and Jennifer Cooke, Director Africa
Programs, CSIS.
In March 2011, Ben testified before the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa,
Global Health, and Human Rights, to bring a message to the subcommittee in support of the women
and children of eastern Congo. He was joined by ECI Board Member, Cindy McCain, as they
discussed their recent trip to eastern Congo, the region's current state of affairs, ECI's work with
Congolese community-based organizations, and what the U.S. should be doing to help the Congolese
rebuild civil society in the region. He testified before Congress again in December 2012, addressing
the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on the M23 militia’s recent siege of Goma, and urging U.S.
lawmakers to play an active role in reforming the Congolese security sector.
In addition to extensive travel throughout the DRC, Ben’s learning and advocacy trips have taken
him to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zanzibar. He is a longtime
political activist and strong supporter of many charitable organizations, such as Feeding America,
A-T Children's Project, and the Jimmy Fund.
Ben is married and has three children. He has appeared in over thirty films, written five and
directed three, of which the Academy Award-winning Argo is the most recent.
Below are a series of useful links on some of Ben’s advocacy work.
An Animated History of Eastern Congo Initiative
Washington Post – Congo urgently needs U.S. help
Washington Post – How the United States can help secure Congo
“Gimme Shelter” Film (60 seconds, low-resolution)
TIME “A Glimmer of Hope in Africa” Feb. 2009
Nightline – Ben Affleck’s Journey to the Congo (part 1)
Nightline – Ben Affleck’s Journey to the Congo (part 2)
ABC This Week with Congressman Adam Smith
CBS This Morning – Of Congo and Cocoa
NBC Making a Difference