Diaspora key in helping Global Britain enter emerging African markets

As the UK-Africa Investment Summit takes place in London today, AFFORD executive director Onyekachi Wambu, says the diaspora has a unique and critical role to play in smooth and successful trade and they must have a seat at the table in the development of new agreements.

Africa is a huge, emerging and increasingly important market for Britain and Boris Johnson knows it.

With Africa’s population of 1.2 billion predicted to reach 4 billion by the end of the century – by then, 40 per cent of the world’s population – that market will only get bigger. According to the IMF, Africa is home to eight of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies. By 2050, one in four global consumers will be African.

More pressingly for the prime minister, the UK-Africa Investment Summit on Monday (January 20) is the first big opportunity since December’s decisive general election for the government to showcase and shape its vision of trade in a post-Brexit, Global Britain. So, it doesn’t surprise me that he will be personally welcoming the cavalcade of African leaders coming to London.

The UK wants and needs closer trading partnerships with African nations, so those leaders will arrive knowing they hold plenty of cards. Mr Johnson should be clear: it isn’t going to be easy.

Africa is a maiden being courted by many suitors, so no deal with the UK might well be better than a bad deal. Britain is jostling its elbows amid a clamour of competitors: Chinese trade with Africa grew from $10 billion in 2000 to $204 billion in 2018, the US has pledged $60 billion to focus on power, while Germany is proposing a ‘new Marshall Plan’ for Africa.

Like they have done with the Chinese, African governments will be pushing for hard deals for increased capital and investment in structural transformation to drive growth and job creation. Infrastructure development that enables goods to be moved around the African economy will be vital.

They also want to prioritise support for regional and continental integration through bodies like ECOWAS and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

But in the negotiations, maybe Britain has an ace up its sleeve too. Unlike China for example, we have long standing relationships with many African countries and very strong present-day connections with the Continent, through the millions of people who make up our African diaspora.

Post-Brexit, our spirited and entrepreneurial diaspora can be a huge asset in helping Global Britain enter these emerging markets. The unique and critical role this group can play in smooth and successful trade should not be underestimated and they must have a seat at the table in the development of new agreements.

The diaspora provides ready-made and unrivalled networks of partners for end-to-end trade and the unique skills, knowledge and commitment that come with having a foot both here and over there.

The Summit’s goals include ensuring ‘a prosperous future for all our citizens’ and boosting ‘mutual prosperity’. This suggests any trading partnership between the UK and African nations should be founded on equality and reach beyond aid. Africa must be allowed to trade more freely in areas in which it enjoys a comparative advantage, such as agriculture and labour.

Labour has dominated Africa and UK trade ties for 400 years, first through slavery, then colonisation. This came to an end only in the independence era. In 2020, serious trade deals, that avoid being one-sided and finally give African interests equal standing, will have to include provision for the movement of labour, and unfettered market access for African businesses and business people.

The UK’s current visa regimes demonstrate a reluctance to allow potential global African ventures such access and the freedom to grow their businesses, small or large, as highlighted in a report by the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) and its partners last year. This will have to be addressed, so it is easier for Africans to come to the UK to do business.

An additional $2.5 trillion is needed every year to end poverty in developing countries and meet the SDGS. So there is an urgent need to mobilise far more private sector investment.

The huge financial value of diaspora remittances needs to be more formally integrated into investment and aid structures. What is at stake here is the $87 billion that the World Bank estimates was sent to Africa in 2018 to fund day-to-day living, healthcare, education and investment projects.

The UK government and its Department for International Development must continue to work with the diaspora and diaspora organisations to ensure diaspora remittances are part of a more structured response in meeting this financial shortfall. One example is AFFORD’s plan to raise investment for affordable housing in Rwanda by issuing a diaspora bond, denominated in local currencies, in line with DFID targets to develop local African capital raising markets.

The diaspora needs to be a fully visible partner in the efforts to deliver the SDGs. This is a huge agenda with enough work for everyone.

Currently, more than 20 million people enter the African job-market each year, which is expected to rise to 100 million by 2100.

It is in all our interests to help secure African stability, jobs and growth because conflict, poor work prospects and economic instability will continue to encourage migration and dangerous escape journeys to Europe. By using its financial and intellectual clout, its investment and business development advice, the diaspora can support the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which will generate the millions of jobs and help turn migration and development challenges, facing both Africa and the wider world, into a triple win situation for Africa, the UK and for the diaspora themselves.

The Global Native: Enhancing agriculture in Zimbabwe

AFFORD would like to congratulate The Global Native, one of our current grantees, for their great social impact on the lives of farmers in 3 villages in Zimbabwe.

The Global Native invest in large trucks in order to provide transport services to farmers in rural areas enabling them to move their products faster to more profitable markets. With The Global Native’s trucks, farmers can transport greater quantity of products at cheaper prices, transport their goods to the markets quicker, therefore increasing revenue and improving their livelihood.

AFFORD awarded The Global Native a £30,000 matched grant as part of the Diaspora Business Planning Competition in 2017. Over a period of 12 months, The Global Native has already made impressive progress. The grant has enabled them to scale up their work, buying a 40 ton truck. On top of AFFORD’s grant, The Global Native raised further investment from the diaspora through their Enaleni platform and have bought 3 additional trucks, creating a total of 23 new jobs. The Global Native works with Turning Matabeleland Green, who have trained over 10,000 farmers in chicken production and tomato growing in the southern region of Zimbabwe.

Na Ncube, Founder and Director at Global Native has found the support from AFFORD paramount in growing the enterprise and stated:

“AFFORD’s grant has helped us generate 100% increase in sales which would have been difficult without the extra injection of capital. Business expansion needs capital, and for most diaspora businesses this is a limiting factor in expanding our enterprises. Demand on the ground still exceeds supply therefore we are still looking for new capital to scale up further over the next year. If you are interested in investing in our work, please get in touch at” 

HIRDA-UK/SOMALIA: Empowering Women, Transforming Communities

The decline of the Somali state after the civil war redefined the socio-economic roles played by Somali women. With so many men dying, injured or simply losing interest in their marriages, women have had to take up the responsibility of caring for their families and working their way out of poverty.

Though Somali women are at the forefront of Somalia’s slow renaissance, the country’s improving economy has not benefitted them. They have limited access to land, finance to grow their businesses and are disproportionately affected by poverty, violence and discrimination.

Despite this situation, female entrepreneurs generate and promote business growth, provide sustainable employment and increase trading activities in the Somali regions.

That’s why in collaboration with our office in Somalia, we’ve made it our mission to empower these business women so they can positively effect change in their families lives and in their communities.

The grant we received from AFFORD helps us provide female entrepreneurs with loans to help them expand their businesses, receive tax exemptions and security from the local governments. They also benefit from protection from clan leaders as well as business advisory services so they can make their loan repayments.

We are extremely proud of the women we’ve worked with and celebrate how their new economic security causes a ripple effect of positive change: where future generations are educated, where the quality of their families lives are improved, where they believe in themselves and their ability to run businesses on their own and where their success stories inspires and generates more entrepreneurs.

The funding we receive from AFFORD makes a world of difference in the lives of these women and we look forward to building a future where women continue to empower and transform lives.

Bunyoro Kitara Development: Disability is not inability

For disabled women in Uganda, breaking out of the cycle of poverty is near impossible. With little or no formal education, these women are unable to gain steady employment which means no education for their children, zero access to good healthcare and poor standards of living.

This challenge is what the Bunyoro Kitara development association worked at erasing by providing 15 disabled women with skills that enabled them to be self-sufficient and financially independent.

Based in the Masindi district which is within Bunyoro region, the project aimed at training disabled women in tailoring/ hairdressing and bookkeeping. It also equipped them with sewing machines (for those undertaking the tailoring workshops) and hair dressing toolkits: a hair dryer, oils, relaxer, weave & combs. We also train them in basic business and financial management skills.

For women like Rose, Robina and Jenitha, this project gives them access to tools that they would have ordinarily been unable to afford which accords them the dignity of financial freedom.

With continued support from AFFORD, Bunyoro intends to open a resource training centre in Masindi so more disabled women can acquire the skills they need to thrive.

Riana Development Network: Eliminating poverty one household at a time

In partnership with AFFORD, our organisation addressed issues of food insecurity and poverty of 38 households within the Nyanza province in Kenya.

This province has the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya resulting in households that are headed by women who have lost their spouses or by children orphaned by the disease. With the loss of their breadwinners, these families were in dire need of food, clothing, healthcare and education.

Our project also targeted farmers in this community who had limited skills and resources to develop their farms and so had insufficient food supply and no sustainable income.

To help ameliorate the situation Riana Development network provided these households with a breeding stock of goats as well as training in administrative skills like record keeping and the use of a financial cooperative. The milk and meat from the livestock met the nutritional needs of these families, while the sale of milk, goats and pelts improved their financial security while their newly acquired skills in record keeping and administration raised their confidence in themselves and in their ability to run successful businesses.

The local farmers also benefitted from our efforts in livestock development, which increased their potential for higher amounts of sustainable income.

Through this initiative, these women and farmers have formed a corporative to help them manage their animal stock and other associated food insecurity issues in partnership with the local administrators.

We are excited about the prospect of building a farmer’s cooperative society that will seek to provide long term financial stability for farmers so they can diversify their income streams.

Development Impact for Nigeria: Creating business owners in Ishefun

Development Impact for Nigeria is an international development NGO that provides advocacy and community development support to individuals, self-help groups and professionals working with socially excluded communities in Nigeria.

Our organisation believes that with a job or a source of income, people are set free to live their best lives.

That’s why supported by AFFORD, we worked with low income earning women in Ishefun-giving them vocational training in a number of industries like shoemaking, soap-making, tailoring and sewing so they can become economically independent.

In all, over 60 women gained practical technical knowledge on the production process and received business and micro start-up advisory services before they set up their own small businesses.

The length of the training programs (at least 3 months) boosted their confidence in their ability to produce and gave them invaluable insights on how to package and market their products effectively.

The skills these women have acquired allows them to support their households, has improved their standards of living and encouraged trading activities within their communities.

The socio economic potential of this project is huge and we plan on rolling out this framework in other low income communities. We also plan on setting up a vocational centre and community cooperative/hub that would offer business education, advice and support as well as a cooperative microloan scheme for women. The future truly is promising.

Deconstructing 10 Myths on Migration

Little words often conceal big truths…

Often, ideas are so widespread that we forget to question them; to the point where they end up justifying behaviours, individual or collective strategies, and even certain policies. And so we know that, whether acting in good faith or bad, policy-makers, the media and/or the general public end up echoing prejudices and stereotypes on migrants and migration.

In the context of growing political and social tension around these issues, and the lack of recognition of the link between migration and development, the Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale issues des Migrations (FORIM), ICMC Europe, and the working group Migration & Development of CONCORD have decided to tackle the ten most common myths on the subject with the support of ADEPT.

Watch and share using the hashtag #LetsDebunkMythsTogether


As part of the UN Togetherness campaign, is a global campaign that aims to change negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants.

We are reaching out to the general public, networks and organisations to showcase some of the videos created on the issue and try to have a discussion on the matter of migration.

The aim of the campaign is to build empathy and humanise the debate. AFFORD and ADEPT encourage different networks to watch the videos below and share them on social media. Each video’s length is less than three minutes.

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