All on-board to unlock diaspora finance for growth in Africa

Rwanda faces an acute housing crisis. Rapid urbanisation drives an urgent requirement for new housing units, with demand of 31,000 units against 1000 new constructions just in the capital city, Kigali. A huge factor in the shortage of housing supply is the ongoing challenge of affordability, with average waged citizens priced out of the traditional market, and the real estate and construction sector of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) unable to access the finance to solve the problems through the market. Unlocking new private capital of $331 billion needed for SME growth in Africa to finance affordable housing and general development in countries like Rwanda, is one of the greatest challenges for governments, philanthropists, and private investors.  

AFFORD proposes to provide a scalable investment solution for affordable house construction in Rwanda by disrupting inward investment through diaspora enabled funded products.  AFFORD’s just published policy brief (available in full here: examines the role that diaspora financial capital of US $87 billion (from a mix of remittances and Diaspora Direct Investment – DDI) can play in supporting development outcomes, especially in the context of ‘blended finance.’ Furthermore, as noted by Diaspora Investment Expert, Gibril Faal:

“…based on conservative estimates, the volume of annual African migrant savings is USD $33.7 Billion (i.e. USD $1,980 average savings x 17 million African migrants living outside the continent). This does not include the millions of multigenerational African diasporans. If 1% of annual African migrant savings of USD $33.7 Billion is invested in Africa, this will mean an inflow of USD337m.”  (G.Faal)[1]  

The policy brief centrally argues that the development financing gap can be addressed in part through an innovative mix of concessional ‘blended finance’ and diaspora financial capital.  Using a blended finance approach will de-risk, and help achieve an accelerated investment ecosystem for ‘missing middle’ enterprises. 

Traditional silos should be broken down between Official Development Assistance (ODA), philanthropy, private investment, and now DDI.  Governments, Multilaterals, DFIs, philanthropists, civil society, and the private sector should adopt a broader view of how LDCs financing for development is conceived as well as facilitate the unlocking of diaspora finance. AFFORD recommends:

  • Governments and philanthropic foundations to consider increasing the deployment of grant financing components as part of blended finance packages 
  • Governments, Multilaterals, DFIs, and philanthropists to be more innovative and flexible in how they deploy ODA and grant funding in order to fulfil its potential as investment capital, especially in emerging and frontier markets. 
  • DDI to be considered as a potentially valuable component in blended finance packages, whose potential remains relatively untapped. 
  • Financial institutions, Multilaterals, DFIs, and the private sector should develop a broader range of investment products targeting diaspora investors, including diaspora bonds, mutual funds, and social enterprise funds. 
  • [Read the full thought piece at

[1] Faal.G: Strategic, Business and Operational Framework for an African Diaspora Finance Corporation 2019, p.7


  • AFFORD was established in 1994, with a mission “to expand and enhance the contributions Africans in the diaspora make to African development”. Priority projects and activities are focused on diaspora contributions to job creation through African enterprise development. AFFORD’s innovative approach mobilises the financial, intellectual, and political assets of the African diaspora and channels them to drive economic growth and social development in Africa. AFFORD’s mission is achieved through programmes and projects undertaken solely or in collaboration with partners in Africa, the U.K, E.U and other parts of the world. These projects and programmes fall within the following overlapping themes:
    • Investment, Enterprise & Employment
    • Diaspora Engagement, Network Building & Training Services
    • Learning & Policy Advocacy
  • AFFORD has played a key role in developing diaspora Finance – presenting solutions and innovative programmes that bring together diaspora and the diverse and important institutional FFD stakeholders to formulate structures to implement investment plans with relevance for diaspora input. Our extensive knowledge of diaspora investments, remittances, and fund structures, include: the written project evaluation and replication plan on ‘RemitPlus™ Diaspora Finance Report (2011)’, which provided outlines for African Diaspora Bonds, Diaspora Mutual Fund, Diaspora SME Fund, and Diaspora Bank Accounts. That 2011 report influenced many processes, policies and practices including the: AU Global African Diaspora Summit (2012); UN High Level Dialogue on Migration (2013); Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (2015); Joint Valletta Action Plan (2015); target 10.7 of Sustainable development Goals (2015); Paragraph 35 and 44 of the recently concluded UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (13 July 2018); and the £2.9 million diaspora finance element of the Comic Relief/UKAid funded Common Ground Initiative (CGI) Programme, the largest diaspora finance programme to date.
  • Through the AFFORD Diaspora Finance (ADF) Programme AFFORD seeks to maximise the impact of diaspora financial and skills investment into Africa which has been estimated at between US$17.4 billion in 2018. AFFORD is delivering a number of exciting new investment and financial instruments, as well as a philanthropy/giving platform through which diaspora investment and resources can be mobilised and scaled to support wealth and job creation in Africa.  The ADF programme is shaped by the focus on diaspora investment and employment promoted by African governments, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development (FFD). Despite the current estimated US$17.4 billion of diaspora investments, AFFORD believes that by providing the right framework and support these efforts can be greatly amplified.

For more information:

Paul Asquith – Policy & Engagement Manager, AFFORD


©AFFORD, June 2019

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