Diaspora members on the hunt for deals

Published: Sunday | December 22, 2013 Comments 0
Vice-President at JAMPRO, Claude Duncan, speaking with a group of delegates at the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held on June 17, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James earlier this year.- File
Vice-President at JAMPRO, Claude Duncan, speaking with a group of delegates at the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held on June 17, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James earlier this year.- File

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Meetings with members of the Caribbean diaspora and an online survey by World Bank consultants reveal that 25 per cent of diaspora members have invested in real estate and 10 per cent in business ventures in the Caribbean.

The survey said that most of those who participated in the research were on the hunt for business deals and start-ups to back, but were unsure where to find such deals and businesses.

Qahir Dhanani, a private sector development specialist for the World Bank Group, in an online blog summarising the findings, said that "Among just the 850 diaspora members we engaged in the study, a pool of about US$3.5 million is available over the next five years for investments in early-stage start-ups in the Caribbean, seeding at least 25 start-ups across the region."

The survey found that in general, diaspora members favoured start-ups over small and medium enterprises or established public companies, with 23 per cent having made investments in new or early-stage ventures in the Caribbean.

Dhanani and a working group met with 220 members of the Caribbean diaspora in New York, Toronto, London, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. during this year and received responses to an online survey from 636 other individuals, all from the Caribbean.

The intent was to understand the business and investment interests of the Caribbean diaspora and to use those findings to design a programme that would make it easier for the diaspora dollars to flow back home, the researcher noted.

Dhanani concluded that through the study, "we found the diaspora to have a tremendous interest in making such investments and contributing to the development story of their countries of origin."

He quoted one Silicon Valley entrepreneur, originally from Barbados, as saying: "We have the money, but it's just not that easy to find the deals back home."

Dhanini said "The willingness and ability of the diaspora to engage represents a significant untapped potential for Caribbean nations. While the money is out there, creating avenues for these funds to flow back home and ensuring that the regulatory environment for businesses is conducive to receiving such investments remain a challenge."

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com



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