Pangea Trust, on March 16 2022, held the Ethiopia Diaspora Mapping Report Validation Workshop, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the findings of an in-depth research on Ethiopia’s Diaspora remittances.
Speakers at the workshop included Sofie Berghald, the senior advisor for private sector development at Sida HQ, Vince Mountaga, the founder of BelCash Technology Solutions PLC, Amadou Daffe, the CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya Inc, Anne Lawi, the MD for Pangea Trust- among others. Aside from the speakers, the workshop was attended by over a hundred participants from the finance and entrepreneurship sector in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa.
The findings of the report were presented and expounded on by various speakers while other participants posed questions as well as comments on the report and generally the subject of funding for businesses and investment options for diaspora.
In her presentation, Anne Lawi, the Managing Director Pangea Trust was keen to highlight that the biggest challenge for businesses across Africa is funding. SMEs lack the collateral demanded by financial institutions to acquire loans, and they also lack proper information on where to get funds. With this background, therefore, Pangea Trust is building a data driven programme to tap into diaspora remittances as a source of funding for businesses.
The information gap was further emphasized by Addis Alemayehou, chairman of Kazana Group. According to him, even when the information exists, it is not being shared widely enough. For example, “There are many people investing in businesses- even of strangers- but they are not talking about it,” he said. This information gap, he opined, was what the diaspora mapping report, the workshop, were closing.
Speaking at the workshop to expound on the place of Islamic finance in Ethiopia’s startup and investment ecosystem was Rahma Hersi, an Islamic Finance lawyer and advocate for economic justice in Africa. With Islam constituting 34% of Ethiopia’s population and 1.7billion people in the world, Rahma said that general information around Islamic Finance must be disseminated in a manner that is palatable to those who ought to be interested in it.
Omolayo Nkem Ojo, Research Manager at DMA Global Ltd., acknowledged that the current conflicts in Ethiopia were posing a challenge to implementing the recommendations of the report as diaspora may be justifiably sceptical to invest with the conflicts still raging. However, as the conflicts lessen, implementation of the recommendations will continue to take shape.
Clearly from the report, and from the contributions at the validation workshop, Ethiopian diaspora are interested in investing their money in profitable and impact-driven ventures, and startups need alternative funding for their businesses. Therefore, the plan to provide a platform for diaspora to invest directly in startups back home ought to continue to be implemented.