ROME, SEPTEMBER 27 – “The migrant diaspora can create a virtuous cycle of skills and resources. As well as this, remittances need to be supported because they represent an economic leverage we must use”. This is the firm opinion expressed by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro in his closing speech yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting in Rome where the first results of the MigraVenture project have been presented. The MigraVenture is a program sponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with Etimos Foundation and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The program aims at supporting migrant entrepreneurs wishing to start or strengthen an entrepreneurial activity in Africa. Six out of the ten startups selected by the project are from Cameroon.
“MigraVenture is an innovative model able to foster the private sector in Africa”, said Giro, highlighting that the Italian model of Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) “is a complex, in some way fragile system, but it is economically more sustainable and politically viable. It is certainly not perfect, but that’s what we can offer to Africa and it can work”.
In 2016, Italy has been ranked first among the European country investors in Africa with 11.8 billion euros allotted in the continent. It is an achievement corresponding to a political choice made by the Italian government, underlined Giro, adding that the action might go further if the business world gave its solid contribution. The Italian minister invited the entrepreneurs to take up the challenge and make a leap forward, moving from the concept of “selling” to that of “producing” in Africa, which does not correspond to localization but to a process of internationalization instead, consisting in setting up a company branch abroad. Today 30% of the Italian companies are internationalized, Giro stated, “but our target is to reach 50%, which is the same percentage of Germany. We can make it, considering also that Africa is geographically close to our country”.
MigraVenture is an innovative project aiming at supporting the private sector in Africa by enhancing the role of diaspora and private sector in international cooperation. It is intended for African migrant entrepreneurs or potential businessmen living in Italy who intend to start a new business in their countries of origin.
The project includes firstly a training course (on business planning, access to credit, marketing strategies, risks and opportunities in the African market) , necessary for the development of entrepreneurial activities. MigraVenture offers a pilot capitalization fund, investing in projects with the highest potential for socio-economic development. The selected entrepreneurs are also provided with technical assistance and they are supported by experts in the start-up phase.
The meeting took place in Rome at the Palazzo della Farnesina (the building housing the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and it was attended by representatives of the of embassies from migrant countries of origin or transit, Italian institutional representatives, as well as Italian civil society, universities, research centers, foundations, local authorities and international Organizations with headquarters or representatives in Italy, among these FAO, IFAD, UNIDO, World Bank. (@onuitalia, 27 September 2017)