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.
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?
MUSIC, BOOKS AND ART.
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).
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!