Western Union, USAID launch second African Diaspora Marketplace Initiative

Global money transfer service, Western Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM).

The initiative, launched November 22, 2011, encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting US-based African diaspora entrepreneurs with ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

In a statement, Western Union said ADM II is launching with a small business workshop tour kicking off November 30 in Atlanta, followed by stops in Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, before ending in Washington, DC on December 16.

“The second phase of ADM will incorporate key lessons from the first African Diaspora Marketplace, targeting grants toward high priority, high-impact sectors in Africa, including agribusiness, renewable energy, and information and communication technology (ICT),” said Western Union.

To expand upon previous successes, Western Union and USAID said they are inviting small business investment funds and technical assistance mentors to participate in the effort to engage diaspora entrepreneurs.

According to the statement, proposals, to be submitted by February 3, 2012, will be implemented in the following participating countries including Ghana, Angola, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

It adds that the number of grants awarded will be determined based on grant pool and programme need, and is likely to be in the range of 15 to 30 businesses. “The matching grant size is expected to be up to $50,000, with an additional supplement of $25,000-$50,000 in technical assistance.”

Commenting, Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union said, “Our support for innovative diaspora entrepreneurs is an investment in the long-term economic health of Africa, and part of our enduring community commitment.”

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said, “Small and medium enterprises provide the majority of employment opportunities globally. By working with Western Union to launch ADM-II, we are strengthening the ability of entrepreneurs to fuel broad-based economic development, build local capacity and expand the reach of key services.”

In 2010, the African Diaspora Marketplace awarded more than a dozen matching grants of $100,000 each to winning business entries in seven countries.

By Ekow Quandzie

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