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Supporting Diaspora Entrepreneurs

Solar powered ovens could help prevent deforestation in countries like Uganda, where people in poor villages cut down trees for cooking fuel. Manufacturing them in Uganda could create jobs and build capacity in Uganda while making the ovens affordable to people who live there.

That idea is the seed of Ronald Mutebi’s business plan, just one of 733 submitted by members of the African Diaspora in a business plan contest sponsored by US AID and Western Union. The contest is designed to channel the knowledge and capacity of African emigrants into ventures that will support development in their home countries.

The 58 finalists (Mutebi is one) will present their plans at a conference in Washington Wednesday. Between 10 and 20 winners will get grants of up to $100,000 to fund their businesses.

At the Kauffman Foundation’s blog, Jonathan Ortmans writes that diaspora entrepreneurship should play a greater role in development:

This phenomenon of diaspora entrepreneurship has been receiving attention from development communities. The contributions of diaspora entrepreneurs are beyond the financial impact of remittances used for investment in the most capital-constrained countries in the world. Development experts have identified various types of diaspora capital—human, social, and financial—as a useful development resource for migrant-sending countries.

Check out the African Disapora Marketplace for more on some creative ways emigrants are trying to aid development in their home countries.

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