A new initiative is born out of a roundtable at the Latin American Impact Investing Forum
During the recent Latin American Impact Investing Forum (FLII) in Merida, Mexico over thirty conference participants gathered to discuss an increasingly hot topic in development: diasporas.
The U.S.-Mexico Foundation (USMF) and IdEA joined forces to co-host a lunch to discuss the potential of diasporas as engines of growth and development in Latin America and to share the different ways in which participants work with diaspora groups.
A diverse group participated, including development practitioners and foundation leaders, investors and entrepreneurs, educators and volunteers, and more. The discussion benefitted from the unique perspectives and experiences of each of the participants.
Martha Smith, President of USMF and Raúl Rodríguez-Barocio, Chair of the Executive Committee of UMSF kicked off the discussion by sharing their experiences in engaging the Mexican diaspora in the US through various USMF programs such as the Mexican-American Leadership Initiative and expressed the desire to have diaspora topics fully integrated into the FLII next year.
Gil García, President, Southern California Sister Cities Inc, shared advice on how to successfully work with the Mexican Government’s 3×1 Program for Migrants, an initiative in which different tiers of the Mexican government provide matching funding for every Mexican peso contributed by migrants to development projects in their hometowns in Mexico.
Andrew Christensen and Hugo Rodríguez Nicolat of Escalera shared their success in tapping diaspora for financial support for their school construction and scholarships in Chiapas and Claudia Rodríguez of Enseña por México, (“Teach for Mexico”) spoke about their efforts to recruit Latino college graduates for their Teaching Professionals program modeled on Teach for America to improve the quality education across the country.
Mexico was not the only country represented at the roundtable. Carolina Puerta, Executive Director of Conexión Colombia, spoke about the shifting dynamics of the Colombian diaspora and the impressive work of Conexión Colombia, which works with hundreds of organizations in the public and private sectors to enable the Colombian diaspora to contribute to social development projects. Since 2003, Conexión Colombia has mobilized more than $23MM in donations.
Some organizations worked with the diaspora primarily through digital means, such as MercyCorp’s MicroMentor program which is a “free business mentor service for entrepreneurs and a rewarding volunteer opportunity for business professionals.” MicroMentor is currently piloting programs in Latin America and intends to harness the power of diaspora to help grow businesses faster and create more jobs.
Daniel Gonzáles, Program Director of AVINA Foundation, a pan-Latin America foundation, spoke passionately about their work across the region and their desire to partner with organizations to engage diasporas across Latin America.
When the roundtable had to conclude, participants weren’t ready to end the discussion. They reconvened in another room and formed the “Latin American Diaspora Collective” or LADIC. LADIC was born out of participants desire to continue the conversation –and that is exactly what the mission of LADIC is: to enable groups working with – or who want to work with – Latin American diasporas to continue sharing experiences, ideas and opportunities for partnership. Learn more about LADIC here and sign up to become a member.
The FLII roundtable was a great success and proved the power of diaspora engagement through the formation of LADIC. We are looking forward to having many successes to report at the second meeting of LADIC at the 2015 FLII!