Saturday, 9 November 2013

Inspiring Immigrants - the Africans are making an impact

Sada Mire at Dawaale site/Courtesy of Sada Mire

Immigrants are rarely portrayed positively in the British media – and those from Africa face special challenges.  Yet, far from sponging off social benefits, many are making significant economic and social contributions both in the UK and Africa. When I decided to look into this, I found dozens of remarkable African immigrants, who have gone on to become leaders in education, health, fashion and business – and are having a real impact.

Some have combined the expertise they have gained in the UK with their local knowledge and contacts to establish successful development projects in Africa. Others have set up foundations to support infrastructure projects across the continent.

In the UK, many have launched social projects to cater to the health, education and employment needs of African immigrants. Their organisations often target some of the most disadvantaged communities. They are having an impact because they know first-hand what challenges immigrants face when they come to the UK and how to reach out to them.

African diaspora entrepreneurs are also shifting the development agenda – at home and abroad – away from traditional aid and toward financial investment and structural improvement that will bring sustainable benefits to local people. And women hold senior positions in many African diaspora organisations, leading the way for other sectors.

Here is my article for Positive News, profiling some of these doers from the African diaspora and looking at what they’ve achieved. 

There is Sada Mire, Somalia’s first and only archaeologist. She has founded
Somalia Horn Heritage Association and believes that national heritage is a human right, crucial to a nation's sense of itself even during a time of conflict and famine.

Mary Mosinghi, a Ugandan teacher, co-founded Africare, a charity that looks after people living with HIV/AIDS in the UK and Uganda. She says: “Being based in the UK has enabled Africare to transfer robust and effective skills to Uganda communities by supporting productivity, policy development and training, and analysing performance.”

And Daphne Kasambala, from Malawi, created Sapellé an online ethical boutique
offering original fashion and accessories in beautiful African tribal prints and African inspired styles, sourced from brands, social enterprises and artisans from all over Africa. She says: “Africa doesn’t only have natural resources. It has a wealth of talents and the capability to create things that are desirable. We just need the infrastructure to reach global markets.”

Then there is Everjoice Makuve, who was raised as an orphan in Zimbabwe, but managed to found Widows, Widowers and Orphans Relief and Development Trust International to combat the root causes of social deprivation and poverty, which had affected her so much. WORD provides support and education to refugee communities in the UK and to women and children in Zimbabwe.

And Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, from Sierra Leone, who founded the War Trust for Children after the war, as well as the real estate development enterprise Idea-UK in Sierra Leone. She want long-term development that can make a lasting difference, providing access to new business models, jobs and wealth creation.

Read my Positive News article on these inspiring African immigrants.

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