Towards an entrepreneurial ecosystem for attracting Diaspora investments in Jamaica

Diasporans (foreign born population and their off-springs maintaining relations to their country of origin) are vital sources of investment, innovation and entrepreneurship illustrated by locations such as Silicon Valley, Berlin, Taiwan and Republic of Korea. Likewise, Jamaican and Caribbean, with large diaspora populations, can also drive more investments from this source into the region given an enabling environment.

People in the Jamaican Diaspora have long been major contributors to the local economy; most visibly via remittances with impact extending well beyond recipient families to the macro economy accounting for 16.2% of GDP, according to Bank of Jamaica data. Most observers are generally aware of this reality and have often discussed strategies to tap the potential of diasporans via investment, entrepreneurship, innovation and new ideas that they can transfer across contexts, to generate profits and development, while acting as a gateway into mainstream foreign markets.

At the same time, it is not uncommon to hear of diasporans who choose not to engage, re-migrate or even close start-ups due to systemic challenges in the local investment space. Going beyond remittances therefore, requires attention to scaling up, targeting and diversifying engagement to reduce the barriers faced by such investors. In this article, we argue that the creation of a Diaspora Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (DEE) – a suitable context for entrepreneurial firms and investments involving the Diaspora to flourish — would be a positive step towards addressing these challenges.

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