Innovative Competition Acts as Catalyst for Business and Job Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2012/ — At the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM II), 17 U.S.-based entrepreneurs were awarded matching grants to fund innovative business plans and promote economic growth in seven countries in sub-Saharan and North Africa. The grants will match ADM winners’ own funds to support growth of their businesses.
Launched in 2009, ADM is one of the few public-private initiatives to harness the knowledge and resources of U.S.-based African diaspora and other entrepreneurs to address economic opportunity by advancing the ability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa to obtain capital. Forty-four finalists for ADM II vied for the top awards with business plans addressing high priority, high-impact sectors in Africa. Finalists presented plans in agribusiness, information and communications technology (ICT) and renewable energy.
Winning proposals included a Kenyan agribusiness implementing sustainable “zero-waste” practices through the commercial production of High Efficiency Organic Fertilizer; the first legal technology provider in Tunisia; an alternative power-generator utilizing agricultural waste in Liberia; and an online medical information delivery system in Nigeria. Each awardee can receive a total investment of up to US$70,000, which includes up to US$50,000 in matching cash grants and/or up to US$20,000 in technical assistance.
ADM II is jointly funded by USAID, the Western Union Company, and the Western Union Foundation. Other contributing partners include Ecobank, African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and Irv Barr Management.
The marketplace competition showcased promising and innovative ideas for businesses that can create employment and strengthen trade in emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa. The program supports U.S.-based entrepreneurs in supporting African communities.
“At Western Union, we have the privilege of witnessing how diaspora communities are fostering positive change in their home countries every single day,” said Aida Diarra, regional vice president for North, Central and East Africa, the Western Union Company. “The African Diaspora Marketplace is an incredibly powerful example of their efforts. Through our support of ADM II, and other programs around the world, Western Union magnifies this good work, helping to drive financial access and economic opportunity in developed and developing countries.”
USAID and other development leaders believe that the fight against poverty in Africa is largely a fight against unemployment. Establishing innovative, sustainable business initiatives and promoting entrepreneurship generates jobs and capital, creating the potential to improve the fortunes of generations to come.
“The African Diaspora Marketplace will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally-produced products and services,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “These businesses will buy, sell and hire from within the communities they serve, putting money into the local economy, building local capacity and fueling broad-based economic development.”
Speaking at the ADM II awards ceremony, Tony O. Elumelu, the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, affirmed the importance of Diaspora participation in Africa’s ongoing economic transformation. According to Elumelu, “Africans in Diaspora need to team up with Africans in Africa and work together. We need all possible human assets.”
In November 2012, ADM II winners will convene in Lagos, Nigeria where The Tony Elumelu Foundation will host a session with impact investors looking for investment opportunities among the winning businesses.
ADM II incorporates key lessons from the first African Diaspora Marketplace. Expanding upon its success, Western Union and USAID invited small business investment funds and technical assistance mentors to participate in the effort this year. Each winning project will be monitored for a period of up to 24 months and grant payments will correspond to key milestones identified in the winner's proposal.
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About Western Union
The Western Union Company (http://www.westernunion.com) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of April 24, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and completed 425 million business payments. For more information, visit http://www.westernunion.com.
About the Western Union Foundation
Through Western Union’s Our World, Our Family® signature program, the Western Union Foundation supports initiatives to empower people through access to economic opportunity. Recognized by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in 2009, the program is a five-year, $50 million commitment reflecting efforts made by Western Union employees, agents and partners around the world. Since its inception, the Western Union Foundation has awarded more than $80.1 million in grants to more than 2,045 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 109 countries and territories. To learn more, visit http://foundation.westernunion.com
USAID is the lead government agency providing development and humanitarian assistance to people around the world. The agency's Global Development Alliance (GDA) links U.S. foreign assistance with the resources, expertise and creativity of the private sector as well as nongovernmental organizations. Since its launch in 2001, the Global Development Alliance has changed the way U.S. international development projects are financed and implemented. By cultivating more than 900 public-private alliances with over 1,700 individual partners, it has allowed USAID to leverage an additional $9.6 billion in resources for development. For more information about USAID and its programs around the world, visit http://www.usaid.gov. For more information on Global Development Alliances, visit http://idea.usaid.gov/organization/gp.
Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, which is present in more countries in Africa than any other bank in the world. Ecobank currently operates in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group also has an affiliate in Paris and representative offices in Dubai, Johannesburg, London and Luanda. ETI is listed on the stock exchanges in Lagos, Accra and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) – the BRVM. The Group has over 23 000 employees from 35 different countries in over 1,100 branches. Ecobank is a full service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transactional banking services to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, local companies, SMEs and individuals. Since 2005, Ecobank has partnered with the Western Union Foundation to make grants totaling more than US$600,000 in 17 African countries, in support of education and economic empowerment programs. For more information, please visit: http://www.ecobank.com.
About The Tony Elumelu Foundation
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an Africa-based and African-funded not-for-profit institution dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa. As a 21st century catalytic philanthropy, the Foundation is committed to the economic transformation of Africa by enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the African private sector. Founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu, MFR, the Foundation identifies and addresses systemic challenges that inhibit African entrepreneurs. For more information, visit http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org.
About the African Capacity Building Foundation
ACBF was established in February 1991. It is the outcome of collaboration between African governments and the international donor community. Its mission is to build sustainable human and institutional capacity for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Africa. ACBF’s vision is for Africa to be recognized for its socio-political and economic capabilities and endowments – a continent with effective institutions and policies acquired through sustained investment in people and institutions. The Foundation is a leader, major partner and centre of excellence for capacity building in Africa. The African Union currently serves as an Observer on the ACBF Board of Governors. For more information, please visit http://www.acbf-pact.org
About the U.S. Department of State
The Secretary’s Global Partnership Initiative (GPI) is the entry point for collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, the public and private sectors, and civil society. Launched by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2009, GPI aims to strengthen and deepen U.S. diplomacy and development around the world through partnerships that leverage the creativity, innovation, and core business resources of partners for greater impact. For more information, please visit: http://www.state.gov/partnerships