Mobilizing diaspora resources as agents of social and economic change

The diaspora of developing countries can contribute to development in their countries of origin by increasing trade and investment, providing market information and matching / referral services, improving access to technology, making remittances for health, education and infrastructure projects, supporting philanthropic activities, and providing access to capital markets (such as through diaspora bonds). While some countries have devoted resources to fostering contacts with their diaspora, for many sending countries the diaspora remains a resource that is largely untapped.  Policies that could help enhance benefits from the diaspora include providing dual citizenship and voting rights, working with overseas diaspora organizations to improve contacts with origin communities, easing restrictions on foreigners’ economic activities (including land ownership) for diaspora members, and providing information (and perhaps subsidies) to facilitate return.  Case study research could be extremely useful in deriving basic principles for government efforts to engage the diaspora and disseminating the lessons from country programs.


Areas of Focus

Year 1:

  • Develop definition of diaspora for policy purposes and a methodology of diaspora identification.

  • Conduct a survey of the various instruments and tools to mobilize diaspora savings –including diaspora bonds.

  • Produce a handbook on diaspora bonds using surveys and market research to learn more about attitudes towards diaspora bonds and what kind of credit enhancements and loan guarantees would be needed.

  • Compile and assess methodologies of tracking and mapping diaspora populations, including using focus groups and social media to test questions, and employing interception and randomized sampling where possible.

  • Map outcomes of diaspora interventions in countries of origin, focusing on successful models.

  • Develop a typology of diaspora organizations.

  • Evaluate matching grant programs meant to facilitate entrepreneurial investment, such as México 3*1; Moldova PARE 1+1, USA Adm+ Europe, and CIM.

Year 2:

  • Conduct a survey of diaspora organizations undertaking socio-economic development activities to ascertain their objectives and successes.

  • Examine development plans to see how diasporas are being integrated into the broader development agenda.

  • Study the medium- and long-term impact of diaspora financing programs.

  • Undertake an analysis of the participation of diaspora in business and trade promotion efforts and impediments to effective engagement.

  • Study the specific cases of DBC, InTENT, AFFORD, Chile Global, bilateral Chambers of Commerce and CIM.

  • Analyze possible market-distorting impacts of diaspora favoritism in tax regimes using case studies (as in the Philippines).

  • Commission a study on the impact of citizenship or quasi-citizenship on diaspora investment, including case studies of various country regimes.

Year 3:

  • Evaluate existing government programs for diaspora engagement.
  • Establish templates for real time monitoring and evaluation of diaspora engagement and activities.

  • Conduct a mapping and an assessment of social security or healthcare portability, including how these rights and entitlements impact on return migration or medical tourism.

  • Carry out a case study of the bilateral agreements, such as between the Philippines and other countries, or between Belgium and Morocco, and /or between France and Mali.

A. Didar Singh
Federation of Indian Industries and Commerce


Sonia Plaza
World Bank


Sonia Plaza
World Bank

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