Every immigrant from a developing country dreams of a time when they brag about how well their country is doing, a time when building a life of success no longer means having to leave the country for foreign land. It’s certain, the diaspora itself will have to play a crucial role in making that happen, to move the country toward sustainable future. These are five ways the diaspora can become more engaged in developing the third-world countries.
1. Invest in people’s future, not just with their immediate needs. Now, some people might be thinking, the diaspora is already helping. They send millions of dollars in remittance every year. While this is true, remittance itself doesn’t do much for these countries development. Part of the reason is because most of the developing countries are nations of consumers; they import almost everything they need. Therefore the money the diaspora sends doesn’t stay in the country, but end up in the countries that are exporting to these developing countries.
The diaspora need to be more conscious and targeted in how it’s sending money to the developing countries. More of the remittance has to target education and development directly; i.e. choose to pay for a relative school fees directly or help fund an idea a relative has or you suggest to them. While helping friends and families, it’s important to take into account both their immediate economic needs and their future. Otherwise, we could be just be feeding people dependency mentality, which doesn’t help the country or the diaspora.
2. Connect, and Stay Informed. Very often the diaspora is disconnected from, oblivious to what’s going on their country of origin. If it’s your intention to contribute to the development of your country, you have to stay informed of the different issues (social, economic, political) the country is facing, and their root causes. Why is it necessary to be informed? Information/knowledge is the first step in good decision making; whether it’s a decision to take on social issues or start a business, understanding the environment will be a key to your success. Also, that is a good way to grow/fuel your desire to get engaged.
3. Develop a Network. Develop a network of people with like interest from different ethnic and professional backgrounds, especially professionals who are working in related fields. Most importantly, your network should include informed people living in the country of interest, because they will know things you don’t. These connections in return will link you to other people and resources that you’ll need further down the road. Just like you might be able to connect them to resources they don’t have.
It’s said “one of the main problems with the developing countries is certainly not a lack of talent, but a lack of connection to market resources”. The diaspora can be the bridge linking talent in the developing countries with resources in more developed societies.
4. Support organizations that are doing good work on the ground. Research organizations that are already doing work on the ground, and contribute to their cause with your money and time.
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, hunt for economic opportunities. For the longest time, developing countries have been regarded as just pools of socio-economic and political issues. But now it’s the time to start looking at the challenges these countries face as economic opportunities that need to be leveraged. As the venture capitalist Nick Hanauer says, “Capitalism is a system that awards problem solvers; if there’s a problem to solved, there’s money to be made”. Now is time for the diaspora to develop that mindset.
After all, one can argue the developed markets are reaching the point of saturation. Soon the emerging and under-developed markets will have to be investors next target. Therefore, why not get ahead of the curve?
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