Aspen’s DIAspora Investment Forum for East Africa


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On October 13th and 14th, members of the East African diaspora gathered in Boston to attend the inaugural Aspen DIAspora Investment Forum for East Africa, an event coordinated between The Aspen Institute’s Diaspora Investment Alliance (DIA) and the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation with support from the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (EATIH). Highlights from the forum include presentations from KenInvest and Kenya Commercial Bank’s CEO, Joshua Oigara, as well as a stellar lineup of panels which included speakers from the Corporate Council on Africa, EATIH, StartUpAfrica, and the World Bank. The forum also included a special session on franchising for the diaspora which featured Michael Seid, an international franchising expert, from MSA Worldwide.

The event was well-attended, with over 100 attendees from the New England East African diaspora business community. Forum participants had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with US government agencies, access panelists who were available throughout the day, and network at the diaspora receptions which were held both evenings.

At the completion of the event, DIA Director Alex Dixon said,

“We wanted this forum to be an opportunity for diaspora to connect and learn various strategic avenues to invest and do business back home, and by that measure it was a success. We had a great turnout of highly engaged attendees who have been following up already asking if we can make the forum an annual event. I’d like to thank the [East Africa Trade and Investment] Hub and OPIC for their partnership in making the forum a huge success.”

In an effort to build off this year’s achievements, DIA is now conducting a brief follow-up survey for event participants. DIA asks that those who attended any of the panels or receptions fill out the survey, which can be accessed by clicking the following link: Aspen DIAspora Investment Forum for East Africa Survey.

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East Africa Agricultural Opportunities for SMEs panelists from left to right: Ade Freeman of the World Bank, Patricia Sheikh of the Corporate Council on Africa, Kanini Mutooni of the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, and Njeri Rionge of NRBC Inc.

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Pius Rotich, KenInvest’s General Manager of Investment Promotion, presents on the investment environment and opportunities in Kenya.

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Vincent Aberi (far right), Kenya Commercial Bank’s Head of Diaspora Banking, speaks to members of the diaspora community between panels.

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Michael Seid, Founder of MSA Worldwide and international franchising expert, offers insight into franchising in emerging markets.

DIA was formed in 2013 as a partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute. DIA seeks to unlock diaspora capital to achieve high social and financial impact in countries of origin. To do this, DIA designs and creates pathways for diasporas to strategically invest and/or donate in their countries of origin at significant scale and in sustainable ways. DIA aims to build a community of diaspora investors, mentors, and social investors. The team can be contacted at DIAspora@AspenInstitute.org.