All posts by Solome Lemma

Solome Lemma is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), a new organization that consolidates the financial, social, and intellectual capital of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora to advance social and economic change in Africa. Previously, Solome oversaw the Africa portfolio at The Global Fund for Children, managing a large portfolio that included work with over 100 grassroots organizations in 25 countries. Solome is also Co-Founder of HornLight, an online platform that promotes diverse, nuanced, and dignified narratives on the Horn of Africa.

How Africans in the Diaspora are reshaping aid

Why Africans in the Diaspora (AiD)?

The “why, ” along with the “how,” is the most important question that individuals and organizations in social change must address. It helps us engage in the process of self-refection and introspection that is key to keeping us grounded in the purpose, vision, and values of our work.

Today, we launch Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), an organization that seeks to unleash the financial, social, and intellectual capital of Africans to advance social and economic change in Africa. From the inception stage to now, we have asked ourselves – why? Why AiD? Why now? Why this program? Why this picture? We had each member of our team answer that question. You can read each response here.

So, here is why Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) exists.

Representations and discussions of Africa often focus on its socio-economic and political challenges, and paint a single narrative around those. We know there is more to our rich and complex stories. Africans are working tirelessly to bring about change – creating, innovating, and building a better future.

Across Africa, hundreds of thousands of indigenous social change organizations and ventures are working to solve the most pressing challenges in their communities. They are changing their communities through effective and transformative programs. Limited resources and access to technical support hinder their full potential.

What if there was a new way to look at Africa and aid?

 

On the other hand, the global African Diaspora sends over US$40 billion in remittances each year. In addition, Diaspora Africans contribute to development efforts by working with international organizations, starting businesses in their home countries, and/or fundraising for or implementing development projects. While the amounts of financial resources Diaspora Africans send to Africa exceed those of aid organizations, they are rarely seen as key partners and stakeholders in aid.

What we need is a mechanism to leverage these two phenomena: Africans working to bring about change and African Diaspora committed to Africa. By leveraging our collective skills, knowledge, and resources, we plant the seeds for transformational change. This is why Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) exists. We work to ensure Africans take charge of Africa’s development and that our voices, skills, and experiences become cornerstones and drivers of development and philanthropic work in Africa.

We do so through three main programs:

  1. Funds – a platform that enables Diaspora Africans and allies to invest directly in innovative African social change organizations;
  2. Connections – where we facilitate exchange of expertise between the Diaspora and Africans on the continent; and
  3. Voices – which amplifies the voices of Africans and their contributions to Africa’s progress.

To see transformational change in Africa, Africans must become leaders and drivers of that change. We can do so in partnership with allies, friends, and invested partners. We cannot remain the beneficiaries and dependents, when there are sufficient resources, skills, and ideas within Africa. AiD is our contribution and our way of disrupting, re-imagining, and reshaping the meaning of “aid.”

Head over to Africans in the Diaspora here, or follow them on Twitter here.