Most people from third world countries dream of a time when they can brag about the progress of their country of origin, a time when building a life of success no longer means having to leave the country for a foreign land.  The diaspora itself will have to play a crucial role in turning this dream into reality.  These are five ways I believe, us living in more developed countries, can better help the third world.

1. Invest in people’s future, not just with their immediate needs. 

It’s often believed the diaspora is already doing all it can. Every year, Billions of dollars in remittance and foreign aid are sent to third world countries. While this is true, remittance itself doesn’t do much for the development of these countries, and I think foreign aid are just crippling these economies.  Part of the reason remittance is not helping development is due to fact developing countries are nations of consumers; they import almost everything they need. Therefore the money sent by the diaspora doesn’t stay in the country, but end up in countries where goods and services are purchased.

The remittance has to target education and development directly.  For example, 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, 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 in their country of origin.  If it’s your intention to contribute to the development of the country, you have to stay informed of the social, economic, political issues the country is facing, and try to understand 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 is key to succeeding.  Also, that is a good way of fueling your desire to get engaged.

3. Develop a Network.  

Develop a network of people with similar interests from different ethnic and professional background, 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 need.

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 talents 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 (especially with your money).  Look up the following organizations:

Color of Hope

Haiti Tech Summit

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, hunt for economic opportunities.  

Third world countries have always been regarded as 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 solve, there’s money to be made”.  Now is time for the diaspora and any else interested to develop this entrepreneur mindset.

After all, one can argue the more 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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