The objective of the Sierra Leone Diaspora Agribusiness Investor Forum is to promote investments and trade for Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora in their country of origin post-Ebola and –mudslide disasters. As Sierra Leone enters a new era via the recent change of government, the country is keen to restore investor confidence and attract investments from both their diaspora kinfolk and foreign direct investors.
An investment climate ushered in by the diaspora will not only have a positive impact on the domestic economy, it will enhance the investment promotion efforts, the country’s image and its overall credibility.
To date, different studies have been done with results that provide rich data on the Sierra Leonean diaspora. With a visit to four major cities with a concentration of Sierra Leoneans in the UK, US and Canada, where focus group discussions augmented by one-on-one interviews were held to inform a subsequent global survey, the World Bank funded project illustrates what the diaspora is interested in, and what they think the challenges are about investments in Sierra Leone. Additionally, an AFFORD program funded by Creative Commons offered data on the SME landscape; post-Ebola that offered a lot of insight on the SME terrain.
The findings of these efforts and others will form the basis for an agribusiness investors’ forum planned by the IOM with sponsorship from the Japanese government. To enhance maximum output of diaspora’s efforts, this forum will invite direct investors, mainly from Japanese companies coordinated by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). This forum will offer Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora and foreign direct investors options and models to finance opportunities at hand that they can invest in, now. As opposed to making it another fact-finding mission.
What’s more, this forum organized with Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition (GODAN) and they will bring cutting-edged companies to introduce their ICT services in Sierra Leone. One of biggest advantage of diaspora is that they are familiar of ICT services for utilizing agribusiness. With collaboration of partners with Japanese companies and ICT service providers, diaspora is expected to launch new contribution to home country, Sierra Leone.
The stakeholders impacted by this work, fall into three direct broad categories: diaspora Sierra Leoneans; investors (Foreign Direct Investments), and entrepreneurs both at home and in the diaspora. And by extension, development partners, INGOs and governments are also targeted in a holistic approach.
Bringing these stakeholders together for investment opportunities is also plausible for collaboration around a private sector requiring catalytic intervention. And hopefully this will help to kick start the investment and trade opportunities between the diaspora and their compatriots at home who run SMEs. Key to such a relationship between these two groups leading to diaspora contributions to development via the private sector is understanding each other and building trust.
These discussions are encouraged to be centered around SMEs understanding of diaspora markets as potential business opportunities and at the same time engender trust in each other. Why should an SME be interested in its country diaspora? Because members of its diaspora: can purchase products from their country of origin; serve as business partners; be an extended network; offer useful professional skills; help to brand, position and market; provide capital via direct investments or indirectly by luring others towards investing. There could be others. We will speak to the eight roles the diaspora can play to help SME’s improve.
Presenter: Amadu Massally
In addition to the diaspora’s roles to assist SMEs or businesses in Sierra Leone in general, improve, the latter may want to understand better how they can benefit from diaspora markets.
Here are some questions to ponder: What are the specific demographic characteristics of the target diaspora? Do these characteristics suggest a likely sufficient level of demand for any given product in question? What is the juxtaposition of the diaspora with other potentially attractive consumer groups to enable market expansion over time? How exclusive is the product and what other alternatives may be available to diaspora consumers? Finally, what do local SMEs need from the diaspora specifically as it relates to Sierra Leone’s case?
In a business context dealing with SMEs and diaspora, meanwhile, it is necessary for SMEs to think of outreach to a given diaspora in the context of relationship building. This is a two-way process in which trust is engendered, and the mutual rewards expected to flow from it, must be based upon each party’s actual needs and interests. The best way to elicit and communicate this is through clear, transparent dialogue accompanied by careful listening. This panel seeks to address such.
Panelists: Khadie, Reginald Cole, Dandy Williams (SME), Binta Jalloh (SLNBCC), Young Diaspora REVISIT
Facilitator: Desmond Ellis (Diaspora Representative)
A panel illustrating the few commodities that are available is a natural ‘next step’ from showing how diaspora and SME ‘wants and needs’ can be met as addressed in the preceding two discussions?
The investment opportunities can be identified and discussed on a commodities basis and could utilize three tracks: one that shows the SMEs and/or products that are available for investments and/or export markets, respectfully; another could address preferential trade agreements (like AGOA and EU PTAs) and the items listed as preferred; and finally, a third track will look at the practical steps needed to develop capabilities and wherewithal to enable SMEs to enter the global/export agribusiness market from Sierra Leone.
Panelists: Oluniyi Robbin Coker (SLIEPA); Christo Forster (Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce), Dandy Williams (SME), Ahmed Nanoh (SLeCAD),
Facilitator: Ahmed Nanoh (SLeCAD)
This special session will feature the Global Open Data Agriculture and Nutrition5Rivers an organization with a vision to create a more sustainable supply chain that connects the dots between stakeholders and thereby linking farmers to consumers. Leveraging on technology and open data in agriculture can increase productivity and output on one hand; and on the other, we believe, can make an impression on potential diaspora investors who can relate increased productivity to their bottom-line as investors.
A special practical review will be proposed in either the fishing and/or tea businesses where open data via ICT can be used to both prevent malpractices and thereby increasing output in the long run and or capitalizing on the positive possibilities as can be seen in the tea sub-sector.
Facilitators: Andre Laperriere (GODAN) and Dr. Eloise Stancioff (5Rivers)
Q & A: 4:30 p.m.to 5:00 p.m.
This presentation will provide participants of Japanese companies and JETRO, to response of two days’ workshop and information provision regarding their services which they expect to bring to Sierra Leone. All Japanese private companies will conduct presentation.
Facilitators: Shigeyo Nishizawa (JETRO)
My argument and experience in agribusiness and investment for 22 years is that investors do not entertain a market if there are no clear map of entrepreneurial ecosystem. I would like to propose that I lead the session showing how an entrepreneurial ecosystem approach can benefit both investors and entrepreneurs.
Experience from Norway is that we created a crowdfunding platform. The markets we piloted are those with dynamic and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Facilitators: Ammar Kamara (SLeCAD) and Francis Steven-George (Global Entrepreneurship Network, Innovation SL)
An action plan as to what the next steps are will be shared publicly; culminating all discussions and decisions agreed upon as a roadmap to the way forward.
It is prudent to catch the key points made and shared during the day as these will be items to be considered for the action plan that we will develop over the two days of deliberations. So, every presentation and panel discussion would issue a summary of their key points, which we will share by the end of the forum.
Facilitator: Amadu Massally/ Kunikazu Akao/ Sia Kondeh
The focal question policymakers should be addressing is not so much if the Sierra Leone diaspora can contribute to their country of origin, but rather how they do so and what kinds of government policies and programs foster these investment relationships. In the World Bank Study, the findings identified key areas where policy or the absence of it stifles investments from compatriots in the diaspora. Some of these include but not limited to the following: insufficient or unreliable energy, lack of a robust telecom infrastructure, or identifying suppliers and mechanics. There have been other studies, which buttress these findings. We will blend those issues with local ones and present them together for discussions by policy makers, migration experts and from a donor’s perspective.
This panel focuses on the legal and institutional frameworks established to facilitate diaspora engagement and the legislative and regulatory frameworks for the private sector, by which Sierra Leoneans can or should invest in their country of origin. These efforts may be unique and different between the two, but DDI and FDI have some common themes that may require attention by policy makers
Panelists: Joseph Ndanema (Min. of Agriculture and Forestry), Min. of Trade and Industry, Min of Foreign Affairs, IOM Country Director, Ade Freeman (World Bank)
Facilitator: Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie
The onus now rests with Sierra Leonean businesses and Agripreneurs specially to show diaspora and foreign direct investors’ practical opportunities in projects that can be started and existing businesses that seek investments or funding to expand. 5 vetted SMEs will talk about their opportunity in 8-minute spurts via a guided approach for all. We hope to showcase Sierra Leonean businesses ready for capital infusion by both DDI and FDI participants.
Panelists: 5 from SLeCAD Farmer’s membership and Diaspora
Facilitator: Mr. Emile Kargbo (Chairman, Pig and Poultry Association)
This presentation emphasizes practical developments via an idea that came from activities at Freetown Market monthly showcasing of fresh produce and eatery. Brussels Airlines realizing that many times there is hardly any cargo on their return trips from Sierra Leone (and perhaps Liberia), suggested that we package such fresh produce to be sold on return trips to Europe from Africa can be a game-changer for many. A lot of things come to mind. How does SLeCAD for example, help farmers coordinate their efforts to make their produce available in a timely manner?
Questions such as: “Can this be scaled up to other markets?” France, UK, Germany, are all possible countries that could consume fresh vegetables from Sierra Leone. What does a veggie-producing SMEs or large corporation perhaps emerging from the concept should do to make sure they can scale up and build a commercially viable opportunity? Can it be sustainable? These questions are some of what we will want to get at from the forerunners on the initiative.
Facilitators: Estelle Van Eschout (Brussels) and Noellen Barber (Farmer’s Market)
This forum will have to create its own manual as to how the future evolves. So, it suggests an action items worksheet that will steer the subsequent activities to bring plans and activities identified, to life. It is imperative to involve participants at all levels of our stakeholder’s groups about the way forward as that helps to build a shared vision, and increases their commitment to the success of the activity.
This panel should emphasize clarity and consistent communication to and between stakeholders from mapping desired outcomes (individual investments, crowd-funding, volunteer work, etc.) to designing performance measures that will be essential to success. Clear expectations are key to the way forward.
Panelists: Diaspora; Development Partners, INGOs, Investor, Entrepreneur, GoSL?
Facilitator: Ade Freeman
Diasporas can potentially play a number of roles in supporting SME exporters from developing countries.
These discussions will center on SMEs understanding diaspora markets as potential business opportunities and at the same time engender trust in each other. Similarly, the diaspora may want to understand the shortcomings or challenges SMEs face and how their intervention can help alleviate those issues. Panelists will include diaspora investors, diaspora returnees and local SMEs who export to diaspora markets.
A panel illustrating the few commodities that are available is a natural ‘next step’ from showing how diaspora and SME ‘wants and needs’ can be met as addressed in the preceding two discussions. Also, what do local SMEs need from the diaspora?
Ade Freeman Panelists:
Raymond Gbekie Oluniyi Robbin Coker Christo Forster Dandy Williams Binta Jalloh
The Benefits of Information Technology and open data in agriculture and nutrition; and what it means to farmers and their bottom line.
This presentation will provide participants of Japanese companies and JETRO, to response of two days’ workshop and information provision regarding their services which they expect to bring to Sierra Leone.
All of Japanese companies
It is prudent to catch the key points made and shared during the course of the day as these will be items to be considered for the Action plan that we will develop over the two days of deliberations. So every presentation and panel discussion would issue a summary of their key points, which we will share by the end of the forum.
This platform will give SMEs an opportunity to showcase their products and agribusinesses to our investor audience. But an investors’ forum must have an opportunity to link up agribusinesses and investors with an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem; and this is, arguably, the single-most important aspect of the diaspora engagement.
The focal question policymakers should be addressing is not so much if diasporas can benefit their countries of origin, but rather how they do so and what kinds of government policies and programs foster these relationships. We know what the diaspora challenges are. We will blend them with the local issues and present them together for discussions by policy makers, migration experts, and from a donor partner’s perspectives.
Samking Koihinah Amara Kallon
Kally Musa Conteh
Dep Min of Political and Public Affairs
Director of Office of Diaspora Affiar
Recent work led by the World Bank on the Sierra Leone Diaspora shows that: “The percentage (%) of study participants interested in investing in almost all categories (real estate, domestic and export manufacturing, and funds that purchase equity) far exceeds the % of respondents actually doing so.”
The absence of “bankable” SMEs then becomes the missing variable.
5 agribusinesses Entrepreneur
This presentation emphasizes practical developments and could be made by Brussels airlines and responded to by Freetown Market. The idea that return trips to Europe from Africa with fresh vegetables is one that can be a game-changer for many. A lot of things come to mind.
Estelle Van Eschout
This panel should emphasize clarity and consistent communication to and between stakeholders from mapping desired outcomes (individual investments, crowd-funding, volunteer work, etc.) to designing performance measures that will be essential to success. Clear expectations should come out of this dialog
Diaspora Development Partners,
An action plan as to what the next steps are will be shared publicly; culminating all discussions and decisions agreed upon as a roadmap to the way forward in what we believe will be a stronger relationship in trade and investments between Sierra Leone and her diaspora.