Startup Diaspora


The Situation

There are over 62 million first and second generation members of diasporas in the United States. Almost all Americans have immigrant roots. These connections lead to an estimated $95.8 billion in remittances to ‘countries of origin’ in 2010. Many businesses founded by immigrant entrepreneurs form part of a rich diaspora community in the US. These entrepreneurs and small-business owners are activists: they form strong connections and have extended networks, they transmit and spread information, provide resources in their country of residence/for their country of origin. They have knowledge of market trends, and often influence trade and investment, well placed to see new opportunities and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs with the same cultural ties.


Startup Diaspora

We can reach thousands in diaspora communities in the US via programs from Microsoft BizSpark and Startup America. IdEA is designed to engage diaspora communities: a way to convene the private sector, governments, investors and institutions to develop diaspora-centric partnerships in a variety of fields and sectors, particularly focused on: entrepreneurship, philanthropy, innovation, volunteerism, and diplomacy.


Next Generation

The US Department of State will be supported by the collaboration between Microsoft BizSpark and the Startup America Partnership, leading to this new Startup Diaspora initiative. The goal is to rally America’s diverse diaspora communities – comprising entrepreneurs, academics, leaders and influencers, business owners, investors, policy makers, associations and trade groups – that represent the diaspora, to come together and actively create business opportunities in underserved affinity markets. Startup Diaspora leverages existing programs and partnerships with a lens on culture and affinities: Microsoft BizSpark enables technology entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs) access software, services, and communities. Startup America has formed a partnership with Microsoft and others, to unleash the potential in the US regions. Entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners can take advantage of training, events, workshops, and industry events, community platforms that bring together a rich network of influencers, investors, accelerators, Government agencies and inspirational heads of corporations – with next generation businesses.


Outreach and Execution

Together we will identify American cities where there is a large diaspora business community and will establish affinity-cities with counterparts in the target market.  The US Department of State will utilize the interagency diaspora engagement effort in order to identify participants from the relevant diaspora communities.  One key platform for engaging diaspora communities is the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), which was launched by the Secretary at the Department’s Global Diaspora Forum in May 2011.  Startup Diaspora will utilize IdEA’s network to broaden its reach and establish scale.


The Call-to-Arms

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA) at the first Global Diaspora Forum on May 17, 2011. IdEA harnesses global connections of diaspora communities to promote sustainable development. The Department invites diaspora-focused partnerships to support the President’s call to doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 to support millions of jobs here at home.


About the Author:  Claire Lee joined Microsoft in 2004 with a specialism working with software developers and startups.  She enjoys building ‘next generation’ partnerships and pioneering initiatives and engaging with a wide variety of organizations. She currently works on the Emerging Business Team, a unique opportunity to champion engagement with startups internationally on behalf of Microsoft Corporation. Before joining  Microsoft, Claire worked with startups in the UK and prior to this with Compaq at the global distributor, Ingram Micro. At Marconi Communications, where she managed the global relationship with Siemens and helped set up a new business unit to sell Intelligent Network solutions based on the new alliance with Compaq.



The contents of this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and its ideas and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of International diaspora Engagement Alliance, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Migration Policy Institute, or any of their partners.