Of Interest to Diaspora

Last week i happened to catch a great report on NPR about Latin American immigrants preferring to move to Spain instead of the US. Why? Because…

Experts say one of the main reasons is the emergence of an entire industry of financial services catering to immigrants.

Ecuadorians are the biggest group of Latin Americans in Spain. And in Madrid and Barcelona, there are shops where they can pay for appliances and have them delivered to an address in Ecuador. One company is test-marketing ATMs that allow users to pay for grocery purchases, medical treatment or cell phones in Ecuador.

Lucia Jimenez recently visited a branch of Mundocredit, an immigrant bank set up by one of Spain’s largest banks. It offers no-commission money transfers and the option of getting a mortgage in Spain for a home in Latin America.

Jimenez said that she is thinking about getting life insurance that she can eventually take back to her native country, Paraguay.

I found this very instructive to Diaspora because remittances to developing countries are constituting a growing percentage of GDP, as evidenced by figures from around the world. Specifically about kenya, from Next billion, some stats

Kenyans in the diaspora are contributing an equivalent of 3.8 per cent of national income through remittances.

In the year 2004, for instance, Kenyans living and working abroad remitted about Ksh35 billion ($464 million), which overshadows the net foreign direct investment (FDI) of Ksh3.6 billion ($50.4 million), which accounted for 0.41 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Point is, there is an opportunity to cater for immigrants in the financial services like the Spanish government is doing for the Ecuadorian immigrants. Its a powerful incentive to bank with a specific bank over another if a line of credit specifically for investment in one’s home country, and portable life insurance is available. There are myriad financial products for sending money but i am not aware of similar products for purchase of homes, cars etc in one’s home country. I have heard of people accessing the equity in their houses and using that to purchase homes in Kenya. I am not a finance wonk, but would appreciate input from those in the know.

mama mikes
As noted by KP, Mama Mikes is running a campaign where you send airtime for $2.49 to Celtel, Safaricom and Telkom Wireless too. You can also pay for an electricity bill right on the website. It cost $9.99 – Decent price in my opinion.

If you aren’t checking mzalendo.com for information regarding your constituency, i am tempted to call you a bootleg Kenyan. I am just kidding of course, but seriously, there is lots of information there to stay informed even if you are miles away.

The Kenya Community Abroad issued a press release regarding the issue of Dual Citizenship and absentee voting, which you can read more about here. The world as we know (sorry to extend the much used cliche’) is increasingly flat. Dual citizenship and absentee voting IMO would be beneficial if not integral to Kenya. The inflow of remittance shouldn’t be the only welcome development, civic participation should be too. Mid last year I do recall Kalonzo Musyoka saying that if he were to become president of Kenya, that he would pass a presidential decree to allow for Dual citizenship. He even joked that if the Artur’s had Kenyan passports in addition to their Armenian ones, then really, isn’t it about time Kenyans got dual citizenship?

There are still concerts happening around the US by African musicians, you can check if there is one near your city here. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is touring in September and Hugh Masekela’s remaining dates are:
Aug 31 2007 Tanglewood Festival, Lennox, Massachusetts
Sep 1 2007 Planet Arlington Festival, Arlington, Virginia
Sep 2 2007 African Festival of the Arts, Chicago, Illinois

Chris Abani, whose TED Talk is posted and highlighted by Hash, has several upcoming events in NY, Chicago, Vegas, DC, Minneapolis, Vermont, Miami etc. Check here if there is an event near you. I am hoping to read one of his books before i go for one of his events. His talk was very powerful. I recall just being transfixed by him when i listened to him in Arusha and again online. Particularly the part where he says that we as Africans need to explore what it really means to be African. I am simplifying a bit, but what i got from his talk is that we Africans also need to read our own literature in our exploration of who we are. I recall a post by David Seruyange about how some, if not most of us are mashups (David Seruyange has moved websites btw, so if you are a fan of his writing like I am, this is his new home), there is so much competing for our attention, but i think in order to be fully African (if there is such a thing) African arts, books and music help reconnect your being to that which is immutably you.

Move over Lion King! The Invincible Lions are the new game in town (scratch that…jungle).
Invincible Lions by Pictoon
Some great animations from Africa, click here for a post by Mweshi, highlighting some cool ones in the pipeline. I can’t wait to see these!

Brain Drain – Reverse! Reverse!

Sorry if you thought this was a new dancing fad like the cha cha slide (video)
This is my little corny way of passing along information about a recruitment initiative which brings together internationally oriented African graduates and professionals who are seeking careers in Africa with multinational corporations, intergovernmental organizations and leading African companies.

Date: November 16-18th 2007
Place: Houston Texas
More Info: Global Career Company It is invitation only event so you would need to apply online first.

Companies confirmed to attend the Summit include: Anglo Platinum, Barloworld, Chevron, Coca-Cola SABCO, Cisco, Eskom, Heineken, Intercontinental Bank, Lafarge, OPS, Orascom, SAB, Shell, Toyota and United Bank for Africa. Available career opportunities range from entry-level graduate openings to senior management appointments and cover a variety of functions.

Simon Mwacharo Renewable Energy Entrepreneur – Video


Simon Mwacharo and William Kamkwamba – Renewable Energy Innovators.

Here is the video i did with Simon Mwacharo, the founder of Craftskills, a wind and solar company based in Kenya. This was recorded after his TED talk which you can find a great summary of at LHKB Ethanâ??s and my post on his talk can be found here.

**I am a total noob on this one, please pardon the frequent uh huhâ??s vigorous head nodding and leading questionsâ?¦I said it was a conversation right? Right. I promise that the next video I make will definitely be better; I am getting started on Pixel Corps to get me on the road to better digital media work.(Thanks Alex Lindsay). Ok, without further adoâ?¦

Please click here to download the video

Update1: Mr. Mwacharo commented on the post

We are situated in Kibera slums Nairobi and are looking for a chance to give Africa her pride. Funds will come in handy to place us on an industrial scenario where we can produce these turbines at a lower cost and benefit wananchi.

Check out his company here.

Meeting these two gentlemen pictured above at TED was indeed an honour. I am not the only one who was impressed…Nii Simmonds has a post on William Kamkwamba, “I see I make”.

Update 2: Via Hash, William Kamkwamba has a blog, do visit him here.

Believe, Begin Become Press conference.


Dr. Larry Brilliant Executive Director of Google.org, President of Tanzania Jakayo Kikwete and Bruce McNamer CEO of Technoserve.

June 7th 2007 launch of Believe-Begin-Become program in Tanzania.
Bloggers were invited into the press conference. Ethan Z has an excellent summary, Ndesanjo wrote about the press conference in Swahili, and I took a few photos.

The programsâ?? goal is to support the youth in entrepreneurial pursuits by providing training, networking, and mentoring through technoserve and in partnership with the government. The plans they are looking for through business plan competitions in Tanzania, ought to be fundable and workable. For more on the program please click here.For Tanzania specific information, please click here. The site includes FAQ’s, rules and more information.
President Jakaya Kikweteâ??s comments during the press conference and also during the TED global address showed that he is a leader with an open mind, engaging and committed to market liberalization. He struck me as a new breed of African leader, who engenders progressive ideals.

Update:June 9th. Link to All Africa story.

TED Global Day 2 – The Risk Takers

Florence Seriki: An African woman in computing. Omatek is the first African computing company.

She switched from Chemical engineering to computing where she started by selling hardware and training professionals in Nigeria. Keep doing what you are doing she says. In 1988 Omatek was incorporated and soon her company became a premier partner with Compaq and IBM [>$7mil in sales]. In 1991, she visited Asia she saw the supply chain and noticed the Chinese tech was developed in house. She came back to Nigeria, started Omatek Computers. Despite the ‘clone’ tag attached to her company, she ploughed on. People used to call the Chinese copy cats, see where those companies are now.

The idea of ‘designing down’ does not sit well with Florence, she believes that African computers can be made locally and at high quality. Buying computers for resale can get challenging because of minimum orders to the tune of $700,000. This is a major stumbling block and thus the imperative is for Africans to create their own supply chains.

Challenge 2: Financing from banks who do not see the opportunity.
Challenge 3: Electricity problem in Nigeria. This ties back to the talk by Idris Mohammed that the next big opportunity is in providing power in Africa.

– Lots of SME’s can help with bridging the digital divide.

– Continued Govt support for locally made products.

She took the risk of starting the business and well…what a trailblazer for all women!

ALIEUH CONTEH – Founder of Vodafone Congo

–govt was not helpful at all when it comes to licensing, it was a challenge. besides the lack of infrastructure, it cost so much in capital expenditure. The metaphor would be ‘getting stuck in the mud’ figuratively and literally since the trucks would get stuck in the mud and things were just harder to get going.
He put forth all his savings and built the network over the years, even as the war continued. He had to negotiate with the govt and the rebels. CWN Started out with 30,000 subscribers and grew to 3 million subscribers growing by 1.5 to 2 million a year. Current valuation of the company is $1.5 Billion.

Ainea Kinaro – 3 minute talk on Organic Waste – The ignored Resource. He showed pictures of the Human waste is being collected into huge systems to produce methane gas. The other by product is fertilizer which is used in rwandan coffee farms. He reviewed the benefits of using renewable energy, especially something as abundant as human waste.

You can find more over at Ethans’ my battery is done for.

Opinion: Spoke shortly with Tom Rielly the Director of TED partnerships. “TEDGlobal is the kind of conference Africa deserves” Indeed!

Mama Mikes’ Segeni Ngethe

The founder of Mama Mikes will be speaking shortly, a few links to get acclimatized to the energy whirlwind that is Segeni.

1. KP’s interview of Segeni about challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in Kenya.

2. Cool You tube ad of Mama mikes

** He just started with the ad, he mentioned that in his company, the idea is to have fun doing what you love, and that is what they continue to do.