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Western Union, USAID launch African Diaspora Marketplace II

The Western Union Company and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Monday launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM), an initiative which encourages sustainable economic growth and employment.

ADM will do this by supporting US-based African Diaspora entrepreneurs with innovative and high-impact ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

A press release issued by the Western Union Company, a leader in global payment services and made available to PANA, said the tour kicks off the second phase of successful initiative, designed to create entrepreneurial solutions to economic and social challenges.

The launch of ADM II coincided with the Global Entrepreneurship Week events in Washington, D.C., and kicks off a month-long series of small business workshops in six other US cities.

The second phase of ADM will incorporate key learnings from the first African Diaspora Marketplace: focusing on grants toward high priority, high-impact sectors in Africa, including agribusiness, renewable energy and information and communication technology (ICT).

To expand upon ADM’s previous success, Western Union and USAID are inviting small business investment funds and technical assistance mentors to participate in an effort to engage Diaspora entrepreneurs.

Coinciding with the launch, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-funded foundation that promotes the competitiveness of the African private sector, is joining the ADM II partnership.  

The foundation will participate through the hosting of an annual event in Lagos, Nigeria, starting in late 2012, where ADM grantees will have the chance to pitch to a group of select impact investors for second round equity and debt financing.  

Also joining USAID and Western Union as funders are the Western Union Foundation and Irv Barr Management, through Western Union Agent Giving Circles.  

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

“Our support for innovative Diaspora entrepreneurs is an investment in the long-term economic health of Africa,” said Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO of Western Union.

Ersek stressed that, “Through this collaboration, Western Union and USAID are helping to tap the economic potential of the 1.4 million Africans living in the US, bringing more direct investment to the continent. The African Diaspora Marketplace will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally-produced products and services by leveraging Diaspora capital and resources.”

“Small and medium enterprises still provide the majority of employment opportunities globally,” said USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, who added “Entrepreneurship and small businesses fuel economic development and empower communities by maximizing the use of local products and services. Our collaboration with Western Union once again in ADM-II is one of even more promise for each business winner.”

Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu, said “Through lessons learned from over two decades of building successful businesses in Africa, I firmly believe that Africa’s economic transformation can be driven from within by the continent’s own entrepreneurs,” noting “as an African foundation, we are pleased to participate in this innovative effort with Western Union and USAID as a way to bring African talent and innovation back home.”

Proposals, to be submitted 3 February, 2012, will be implemented in the following participating countries: Angola, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, representing four trading regions: ECOWAS, EAC, SADC and COMESA.

The number of grants awarded will be determined based on grant pool and programme needs and is likely to be in the range of 15-30 businesses.

The anticipated matched grant size is about US$ 50,000.00, with an additional supplement of US$ 25,000 – 50,000.00 in technical assistance.

Meanwhile, 2010 ADM grantees have been at the forefront of innovative business enterprises, including the first mobile anti-counterfeiting service for pharmaceutical drugs in Nigeria, the first launched GPS tracking system to prevent product loss in Ethiopia and a high-speed ferry system powered by locally-produced sunflower oil in East Africa, which is connecting local economies in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania


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