Washington — African entrepreneurship received a boost June 25 at the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM II) when 17 U.S.-based entrepreneurs were awarded grants to fund innovative business plans and promote economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
The grants will match ADM winners’ own funds to support growth of their businesses.
Nearly 500 entrepreneurs submitted business plans to compete for a grant as part of the ADM II competition, a collaboration of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Western Union Company and the Western Union Foundation.
“The African Diaspora Marketplace will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally produced products and services,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.
ADM has harnessed the knowledge and resources of the U.S.-based African diaspora and entrepreneurs since its launch in 2009.
The competition addresses economic opportunity and advances the ability of small- and medium-sized enterprises in North and sub-Saharan Africa to obtain capital.
In the 2012 competition, 44 finalists competed for the top awards with business plans addressing high-priority, high-impact sectors in Africa. Finalists presented plans in agribusiness, information and communications technology and renewable energy.
Winning proposals include:
• A Kenyan agribusiness implementing sustainable practices through production of high-efficiency organic fertilizer.
• An alternative power generator using agricultural waste in Liberia.
• An online medical information delivery system in Nigeria.
Each awardee can receive a total investment of up to $70,000, which includes up to $50,000 in matching cash grants and/or up to $20,000 in technical assistance.
Each winning project will be monitored for up to 24 months, USAID said. Grant payments will correspond to achievement of key milestones identified in each winner's proposal.
Entrepreneurs also will have the opportunity to connect with winners of the first ADM competition to share best practices and learn from their experiences.
ADM II is jointly funded by USAID, the Western Union Company and the Western Union Foundation. Other contributing partners include Ecobank, African Capacity Building Foundation, George Washington University Center for International Business Education and Research, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and Irv Barr Management.
The marketplace competition showcased promising and innovative ideas for businesses that can create employment and strengthen trade in emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
Leaders at the United Nations, USAID and other organizations have said establishing innovative, sustainable business initiatives and promoting entrepreneurship generate jobs and capital and create the potential to improve the fortunes of generations to come.
“At Western Union, we have the privilege of witnessing how diaspora communities are fostering positive change in their home countries every single day,” said Aida Diarra, a regional vice president at the Western Union Company. “The African Diaspora Marketplace is an incredibly powerful example of their efforts.”
Expanding on the success of the first African Diaspora Marketplace, Western Union and USAID invited small business investment funds and technical assistance mentors to participate in ADM II.
A full list of winners and additional information about the ADM is available on the USAID website.