How Can a Country Like Jordan Position Itself Globally?!

Diaspora-driven Entrepreneurship has been a goal of strategists in each and every country all over the World. How it can be an achievable goal in the MENA region? Your feedback is appreciated on this article published in Venture Magazine.

Building Bridges

In June 2010, the US delegation of entrepreneurs invited a group of top-notch Silicon Valley venture capitalists and entrepreneurs originally from the region to tour the area. I was delighted to see the positive spirit among the audience in Lebanon and Jordan. However, everyone is expecting the Arab diaspora to play a greater role in the region, but only a few have launched initiatives to fulfill such a challenging goal. Speaking about the role of diaspora in other parts of the world, I can take Taiwan, which positioned itself as a hub of semiconductor manufacturing, as an example. It did so by leveraging its competitive advantage: The Taiwanese diaspora working in Silicon Valley. Examples do not stop there; Japan and India are a few leading examples of countries that have involved their diaspora communities in developing their local economies in different ways. Japan transformed itself by sending gifted Japanese abroad to bring back ideas that were adapted to Japan’s culture and needs.

On the other hand, India — with the world’s second largest diaspora next to China — has doubled its income through remittances. Meanwhile the Indian diaspora has mediated the massive entrepreneurial energy that led to the rise of India’s Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) sectors. Based on statistics from the labor ministries of the GCC, more than half a million white collar Jordanian workers worked in the Gulf region during the past 40 years. Their efforts should be considered a great contribution to the welfare of other communities and it makes sense to tap into their brains. From my point of view, the best model for Jordan could evolve by encouraging the Arab diaspora to set up their offshore research facilities in Jordan. That cooperation could also offer local entrepreneurs a bridge to the networks of Arab diaspora business leaders abroad. There are many areas in which Arab diaspora entrepreneurs could offer their support to young startups in the region. They include:

Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship

Angel investing

Establishing new incubators and accelerators

Supporting R&D in cooperation with universities

Sharing success stories

Lobbying for new government polices

Co-investing with regional VCs

Engage in Silicon Valley tours

The Arab diaspora is a strategic asset for our emerging economies. Many have contributed to this region through remittances, however, there is a missing role for them in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and — most importantly — transfer of knowledge and entrepreneurial networks. I hope governments, NGOs and entrepreneurs themselves will utilize the diaspora’s passion towards supporting economies in their countries of origin in creating a future of success stories similar to those happening in the West.

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Strategist. Design Thinker. Business Model Innovator.