African diaspora contributes to forging new reality for the continent

What is the role and value-add of the African diaspora when it comes to building the continent’s future? Can Africans in the diaspora build unicorns on the continent? And how are they contributing to forging a new reality for the continent and its peoples?

In this edition of the IE Africa Center’s African Solutions, Global Challenges, SOAS University of London, MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship, the African Foundation for Development and the Royal African Society focused on the ways in which Africa’s diaspora is playing a leading role in defining the future of the continent. The event held at SOAS – University of London and was sponsored by Wakalua.

The event took place in two parts – the first a private roundtable discussion designed to generate new solutions and ideas to support African innovation across the diaspora through finance and entrepreneurship, and the second event open to the general public.

The first session of the roundtable focused on the African Diaspora and Global Finance. Moderated by Yinka Adegoke, Editor Quartz Africa, participants grounded in an understanding of the contemporary global financial context within which Africa is developing, analyzed the types of financing and specific ways that the diaspora can add value.

Speakers included Wale Adeosun, Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Kuramo Capital, Baroness Usha Prashar, Professor Gibril Faal OBE of GK Partners/LSE, Eric Guichard, CEO & Founder of  Movement Capital and Semhar Araia, Head of Diaspora Policy on Facebook’s Africa Public Policy Team.

The discussion also focused on the different stakeholders in financial markets and the challenges and opportunities presented by each.

The second roundtable session was moderated by Dina Sherif, Executive Director, Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT, and focused on entrepreneurship, in particular how to scale up businesses and make them sustainable. Much of the discussion focused on female led businesses, with stark numbers cited on the low levels of financing available to female entrepreneurs across the continent.

The public event which took place later in the evening, was opened by Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS-University of London and facilitated by Dara Owoyemi, Managing Partner, Integral Growth Partners. It featured a series of short TED talk style presentations in which speakers Claude Grunitzky, Dr. Anino Emuwa, Ebele Okobi and Bashair Ahmed narrated how they found an African solution to a global challenge in the diaspora.

At IE Africa Center, we believe that the future is a global one in which Africans and Africa are at the forefront of new approaches and methodologies that can offer instructive lessons for the world.