On Thursday 6 December, AFFORD, welcomed the Minister for Africa Harriet Baldwin MP and representatives of leading Africa diaspora organisations and entrepreneurs in the UK to a Business round table, held as part of the organisation’s Diaspora Investment and Policy Forum (DIPF).AFFORD Executive Director, Onyekachi Wambu, stressed the positive impact that African diaspora contributions are having on Africa giving example of the power of remittances which outstrip bilateral aid flows. Over $40 billion was sent to Africa, last year impacting education, healthcare and much needed employment, as well as lobbying on ending harmful practices – like FGM/C and education for girls. Twenty-five per cent (or $10 billion) of the remittances represent investment of some kind, which could have more impact through better structured financial instruments and products such as the Remitplus Rwanda diaspora bond which AFFORD is launching in 2019.
The Minister, reiterated the aim of the UK becoming the largest G7 investor in Africa, and acknowledged the ‘richness and diversity’ of skills and expertise that the diaspora communities offered and was keen to hear how partnership with government could be improved to reach the target. With the opening of new offices and embassies in several African countries including, Djibouti, Chad and Niger, the Minister emphasised the desire for recruitment to posts in these countries to come from the diaspora community and strongly encouraged diaspora apply for these job opportunities. The meeting also saw the Minister remind attendees of the planned Africa Investment Summit to be held in the UK in 2019 and the important role the diaspora will play both in the summit and investment and expressed an interested working with AFFORD and it’s network.
Diaspora organisations and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to share their experiences. Some enterprises demonstrated the job opportunities their business are able to create in Africa and the UK, highlighting the benefits to both continents. Challenges shared included lack of access to sustainable investment capital, limited support to help services go to market, mentoring and building a pipe line to get diaspora and African SMEs investment ready. A strong recommendation for improved partnership work and longer commitment to programmes that provided training and seed capital was advised to encourage growth and sustainability which in turn would produce more business success stories.
AFFORD’s Chair, Ade Daramy, AFFORD closed the meeting emphasising the need for a more coordinated partnership approach and the need to formalise structures to produce greater efficiencies which in turn will enable the diaspora to operate and deliver at scale, producing greater impact.
- The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the UK government department responsible for protecting and promoting British interests around the world, through the FCO in London and their network of over 270 diplomatic posts in 168 countries and territories. Find out more about a career in the FCO by visiting their pages on:
2. Diaspora Investment & Policy Forums (DIPFs) bring together African diaspora businesses and social enterprises, governments, civil society organisations, the private sector and other development stakeholders, to work on practical means of improving diaspora interventions in African development and job creation. DIPF’s are convened by AFFORD and its partners to provide opportunity to mainstream diaspora perspectives, priorities and practices.
- Development Dialogue between diaspora businesses, social enterprises, mainstream, business development institutions, policy makers, government institutions relevant to enabling SME sector, and other stakeholders.
- Policy Development that strengthens SME sector with focus on practical, effective and sustainable implementation.
- Facilitated Networking for partnership action and improved policy that impacts positively on SME sector.
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