Beyond Remittances: U.S. High-level Working Lunch

Part of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit 2022

December 13, 2022

Hosted by the African Diaspora Network and U.S. Department of State
Lead Sponsor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Diasporans represent a powerful constituency in the economic development of Africa and the U.S. African immigrants in the United States earned $55.1 billion in 2015, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy with $40.3 billion in spending power and $14.8 billion in tax payments (New American Economy 2018).The World Bank records over $80 billion USD sent to and within Africa in 2020. This magnitude of remittances strongly reflects the commitment of Africans in the diaspora to participate in the economic development of their home continent. Diasporans are by far the largest investors in Africa, yet, remittances have limitations. What is the role of the diaspora in scaling up and uplifting communities in Africa? How do we enhance African diaspora engagement for investment into their communities?What public-private partnerships can be leveraged to enable diasporans to go beyond remittances?

By 2050, Africa will be home to 2.2 billion people (2017 UN Population Report). This will require targeted new enterprise growth in areas that can enhance food supply, healthcare services, and educational solutions within local communities. The African diaspora has an opportunity to explore business development on the continent. Potentially at the heart of leveraging diasporans is their untapped value in financing social enterprises and mission driven for-profits and collaborating with local leaders to structure capital investments that optimize local impact.

Critical to Africa’s economic development is the creative engagement and strategic collaboration of Africans, African diasporans, and friends of Africa. This session examines new approaches to Diaspora engagement beyond remittances and approaches to sustainable investment.
  • How do we engage the African diaspora to invest back into their communities?
  • What new approaches and investment opportunities are trending across the continent?
  • What public-private partnerships can be leveraged to help diasporans go beyond remittances?
  • How can African governments create an enabling ecosystem for diasporans to invest?
  • How do we bring greater visibility to grassroots African entrepreneurs making an impact in their communities?


Almaz Negash

Almaz Negash

Founder and CEO, African Diaspora Network

Almaz Negash is a recognized thought leader and sought-after expert on entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment for international markets, especially high growth African and Diaspora. Leveraging 25 plus years of experience in international trade, business management, and social innovation, Negash is able to build successful partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, including Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, investors and entrepreneurs based in the USA and around the world. As a result, she is named as one of the 100 outstanding Silicon Valley Women of Influence for her work in social innovation. In 2010, Almaz founded African Diaspora Network (ADN) to inform and engage Africans in the diaspora and facilitate direct collaboration with social entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders to invest and improve the lives of everyone on the continent.

Professor Gibril Faal FRSA, OBE, JP

Director of GK Partners & Visiting Professor in Practice, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Professor Gibril Faal is the co-founder and director of GK Partners specialising in socially responsible business models, sustainable development and programme implementation. He is a visiting professor in practice at the London School of Economics (LSE), Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa (FLIA). He is also a council member of Carnegie African Diaspora Program and Consultant to the African Union Commission on innovative, development and diaspora finance. In 2003, he founded RemitAid™ as a mechanism to transform remittances into a sustainable form of development finance. In 2017, he initiated the Migration and Sustainable Development in The Gambia project (MSDG) in partnership with the governments of Switzerland and The Gambia.

Semhar Araia

Head, Diaspora Policy, Africa, Middle East and Turkey Public Policy Team Meta

With nearly twenty years of experience, Semhar Araia is a recognized practitioner, organizer and advisor on diaspora engagement, African affairs, women’s leadership and international development. Ms. Araia serves as head of Diaspora Public Policy for the Facebook Africa, Middle East and Turkey (AMET) Public Policy team, where she provides guidance on the company’s policy priorities and opportunities for engagement with AMET diaspora stakeholders outside of the region. Her work has helped to amplify diaspora contributions and elevate discourse on civil society, next generation leadership and diasporas in development. To date, she has provided technical expertise, capacity building and research support over 85 African, Asian, European and Arab diaspora communities, as well as to governments and organizations, focused on the role of diasporas in international development.  
Benjamin Fernandes

Benjamin Fernandes

CEO, Nala

At age 21, Benjamin was the youngest African in history to ever be accepted into Stanford Graduate School of Business. He holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Exec Ed from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, being the first Tanzanian to attend both institutions. Benjamin is the founder and CEO of NALA, a financial technology company that has entities in 7 countries around the world. NALA is backed by some of the world’s leading US technology investors including Y-Combinator, Accel Partners and Bessemer. NALA was the first East African company to be accepted in Y-Combinator.