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New Investment Opportunities in Africa

Western Union and US Agency for International Development are offering a "cash boot" to sub-Saharan Africans who reside in the U.S but are also interested in investing in their native country. The program, called the African Diaspora Marketplace, "offers matching grants of $50,000 to $100,000 for small-to medium-sized business proposals" that could help spur investors’ native countries.

So far, the USAID, Western Union and other partners have "set aside $1.5 million for the program" and they hope the amount could increase through donations.

The applications are due July 21, 2009.

"The program is really great to encourage those of us who are outside the country to go back and invest," said Eliab Tarkghen, a software engineer in Alexandria, Va., whose family moved from Ethiopia in 1986 to escape communism. He plans to open an assembly plant in Ethiopia. He sees "the program is the final push if you have ideas, want to go back, but are afraid of the risk. But if someone will give you a grant and help you out, you are willing to take the risk".

Countries that are participating are Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Application requirements: Applicants should be U.S citizens or permanent residents from one of the participating African countries and they must also have a partner in the country they plan investing in.

"We're making significant investments on health and education, but economic growth is key to providing stability in the nations we're working in," Alonzo Fulgham, acting administrator of USAID said. "If people don't have jobs to go to, a nation can't move forward."

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