While Guyana already has millions of dollars flowing into its Natural Resource Fund from royalties collected on its oil along with the sale of its 50 percent take of the Stabroek Block’s sweet, light crude, there are other mechanisms it can tap into for more foreign currency.
According to Jerry Haar and Deanne Butchey, two Professors attached to the Florida International University (FIU), Guyana could significant benefits by establishing a Diaspora Investment Fund. To cement its case, it noted that Kenya was able to secure US$3B in remittances via this fund from North America and Europe, representing the largest source of foreign exchange for the country.
Independent research by Guyana Standard found that the Kenyan government had established the Fund in 2019 while noting that it enables Kenyans living overseas to invest in developmental projects in their home country. This news agency understands that an investment firm, African Diaspora Asset Managers (ADAM), was subsequently granted the first license of its kind for the fund by the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority.
Given the success of this mechanism, Haar and Butchey, agree that Guyana could pursue a similar model with clear strategies to securitize international remittances and facilitate access to the appropriate skills and networks required to advance the economy.
In addition to being altruistic and willing to advance their home country’s educational and infrastructure, the Professors said in a joint commentary that members of the Diaspora will expect the transparency they have become accustomed to in their home countries.
Taking this into account, they said that administrators of the Diaspora Fund should create a structure to do the following: Like Taiwan, create a database to track skilled migrants and match them with entrepreneurial ventures and job opportunities; Use social media to create a network of like-minded individuals working toward a common purpose; and Work with senior executives to incorporate their companies’ global initiatives in advancing sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.
“With so many successful Guyanese expatriates in Canada, the UK, and the U.S., one would hope that in an act of financial patriotism they step up to the plate and invest in a private sector Diaspora Investment Fund, complementing the existing public Sovereign and Natural Resources funds. Betting on Guyana is a winning proposition,” the Professors concluded