From December 19-20, 2018, Lagos will host the Africa Business Festival (ABF), an event initiated by Passion Incubator, a technology and innovation accelerator, with the aim of creating “a platform for Africans living in the diaspora to understand the business landscape in Africa; the opportunities that exist as well as entrepreneurs and startups already tackling these issues and potential collaborations.”

Africans in the diaspora are a critical factor in the economic growth of their home nations. For example, by 2015, diaspora remittances by African migrants to their countries of origin stood at $35.2 billion, according to the World Bank. In 2017, the figure grew to $37.8 billion.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, in 2017, Togo ranked 7th on the list of countries to have received funds from its citizens in the diaspora. Yet, this inflow of money contributed nearly 9% of the country’s GDP.

Despite the consecutive growth of diaspora remittance into Africa in recent years, the amount of money that leaves Africa dwarfs it. For the figures favouring Africa to grow, Africans in the diaspora need to better understand what economic opportunities like on the continent and how to take advantage of them.

They also need to know who to collaborate with and how to do it. This is why a platform like the Africa Business Festival was created.

Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa sat down with Olufunbi Falayi, cofounder Passion Incubator and co-convener, Africa Business Festival, to discuss the idea behind the event and what it seeks to achieve.

Business Insider SSA: How important are Africans in the diaspora to the development of the various economies of their home countries?

Olufunbi Falayi: The significance of Africans in the diaspora to the development of the various economies cannot be overemphasised. Exemplary startups like IrokoTV, Farmcrowdy and Waracake who have generated significant revenue thanks to the patronage of the diaspora community, falls under this category. Their patronage means that these startups are able to create jobs for locals, better their standard of living and generate income for the government through taxes.

The same influence can be seen in the real estate market which maturates due to high patronage from the diasporic community. Numbers show that of the $3.5 billion been remitted to Nigeria from its diaspora communities, a significant amount is been spent on acquiring and maintaining real estate. All these are key drivers to the vision of ABF and its belief in the idea that if the diasporic community is educated and equipped, their role in the economy would be ultimately impactful, especially across other sectors.

BI SSA: Why is the Africa Business Festival (ABF) important right now?

Olufunbi Falayi: In an increasingly connected world, African companies and entrepreneurs need to find new ways to differentiate and compete with players from other nations and markets. ABF provides a forum for Africans in the diaspora to connect with local Africa-based companies and investors with the goal of identifying opportunities where the diaspora talent and resources can be best invested in local African companies.

In recent times, the devaluation across many African currencies provides an opportunity to drive exports from the continents and a greater inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).

By investing in local African companies, Africans in diaspora now have an opportunity to directly participate in and benefit from this opportunity.

BI SSA: What should people look forward to at ABF?

Olufunbi Falayi: The event will bring together a host of the best and brightest business leaders, industrialists, entrepreneurs, and Africans in the diaspora to share their success stories, ideas and strategies for pursuing and developing opportunities across the African continent.

We expect that participants will explore discussions on opportunities in different sectors such as Education, Information Technology, Agriculture, Tourism, Healthcare, and Financial Services. Many African companies will be on hand to exhibit their products and services at ABF. There will also be corporates seeking to invest in diasporan talent.

BI SSA: What would the success of ABF look like?

Olufunbi Falayi: Success for us is to see several of the participants successfully get jobs and/or collaborate on projects, deals, investments, and the launching of new companies across the African continent.

We expect thousands of participants to attend ABF. We are particularly targeting the Africans in diaspora returning home briefly during the yuletide season. Many of these visiting diasporans spend most of their time and resources on holiday season entertainment. ABF offers diasporan participants an alternative form of engagement during the yuletide season.

BI SSA: What would you want the startups and entrepreneurs represented at the event to gain?

Olufunbi Falayi: Participants will leave ABF with a deeper understanding of existing opportunities across all sectors in Africa and the different ways they can best leverage these opportunities. In addition, we expect the entrepreneurs at the event to find and connect with potential investors for their businesses.

The Africa Business Festival holds from December 19-20, 2018. Register here.

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