Diaspora Direct Investment Policy: Options for Development

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Sep 2012
In today's globalized world, goods and capital are flowing as never before. The movement of people across borders has also enlarged significantly. About 215 million people live away from their home country and many members of such Diasporas are prospering abroad and are eager to extend such success by investing in their homeland. In this paper we explore the impacts of Diaspora Direct Investment (DDI) on international development, i.e. we look at how direct investments from foreign companies connected to Diaspora members (i.e. diaspora-owned firms or firms with diaspora members in the top management) boost productive activities in the home country of such people. One of the main advantages of DDI is that it is more stable than other types of FDI, particularly during unfavorable economic conditions, because of the emotional connections of diaspora members to their country of origin. Moreover, such companies engaging in DDI are often seen as the ¿first movers¿ into a country due to potential advantages they have in terms of knowing the culture and having social networks in the home country. This may act as a catalyst for further investment from other companies by providing market and operational information about the homeland to potential investors. We focus particularly on the experience of Latin America and analyze policy options to design comprehensive diaspora strategies that maximize investments, institutional development and the flow of talent and ideas. Such strategies, which would ideally involve Diaspora members in their formulation, can give Diaspora entrepreneurs support in terms of networking, mentoring and training (e.g. business incubators). Nonetheless, a more mature stage of diaspora engagement would be achieved with the development of venture capital funds as well as other sources of financing (e.g. matching funds). The smart utilization of digital technologies for connecting Diasporas empowers all such policy options.