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Ecobank partners Western Union, USAID to attract $22m diaspora investment

Ecobank Group is partnering with Western Union and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to bring in N22 million worth of diaspora business investment in Africa

Sixty finalists for the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) were announced by Western Union, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ecobank. The proposals collectively represent more than $22 million of diaspora business investment, which can spur job creation in the finalists’ native countries.

The ADM is a business entrepreneur program that has catalyzed economic development plans from US-based African diaspora to help 19 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, through collaboration between Western Union, USAID and Ecobank.

“The finalists of the ADM competition represent the best of a new class of entrepreneur – those who are investing back in their home countries to create economic opportunity and reduce poverty and unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Alonzo Fulgham, Acting USAID Administrator.  “USAID is proud to be a part of this innovative program that leverages the resources of Western Union and its Agents, diaspora communities, and local partners in Africa to support these entrepreneurs.”

“The business leaders selected here understand the challenges facing their native countries, and they have identified solutions that work,” said Anne McCarthy, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Western Union. “Our finalists have market-appropriate proposals that could sustain job growth and spark new business start-ups benefiting Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“These finalists are a representation of the millions of Africans resident abroad, who we want to reach out to and encourage to invest in Africa’s future,” said Arnold Ekpe, Chief Executive of the Ecobank Group.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of 733 applicants by an independent panel of volunteer judges from business, non-governmental organizations, diaspora development organizations and academia.  They represent 14 countries and a range of business plans – from agri-business such as food oil processing and fish farming to healthcare and IT service providers.

From this group of finalists, between 10 to 20 winners will be announced in mid-January 2010 at an event to be held at the Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, DC.  The ADM program will award matching grants for program winners of between $50,000 to $100,000.

The ADM is funded jointly by USAID, The Western Union Company, and the Western Union Foundation, as well as through Western Union Agent Giving Circles featuring Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in Africa and Irv Barr Management in the United States.


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