Diaspora volunteers mentor students in Sri Lanka.
Diaspora volunteers from Educate Lanka Foundation support disadvantaged students in Sri Lanka.
Educate Lanka Foundation
Diasporas represent a vast and diverse community – that have not only powered the development of the United States, but also hold the potential for transforming developing countries around the world. 

Today, more than 62 million Americans–a full fifth of the nation–are first or second generation diasporas. Globally, the number of people living outside their country of origin has almost tripled—from 76 million to 232 million over the past four and half decades.  

Many of these Diaspora communities retain emotional, financial, and familial ties to their ancestral home. Whether growing businesses in India, responding to a disaster in Haiti, or peace building efforts in Liberia, Diasporas in the United States have a uniquely important role in addressing diplomatic, development and humanitarian challenges abroad. 

Diasporas Matter to Development

The backbone of Diaspora contributions to global prosperity come in the form of remittances – the financial resources sent back to their countries of origin. In 2013, global remittances were estimated to be $440 billion, an amount over sixteen times U.S. official development assistance. The result of these resilient contributions often exceeds their monetary value. The flow of remittances allows parents to afford a child’s school fees, supports entrepreneurs to open businesses, or helps families to buy food during economic shocks. 

As Diaspora populations grow in the U.S. and internationally, so have the scope of their contributions beyond individual remittances. 

  • Diasporas Innovate– Diaspora entrepreneurs and scientists are creating innovations and growing the U.S. economy. Immigrant-owned businesses generated an estimated $67 billion in U.S. business income in 2011. Abroad, Diaspora entrepreneurs are also gearing investments toward their countries of origin. Diasporan scientists have long been among the most influential innovators and change makers in their countries of origin. 
  • Diasporas Give Back – Diasporas often have the connections, linguistic and cultural competence, knowledge, and drive to serve as volunteers worldwide. There are 200,000 first- and second-generation immigrants among the 1 million U.S. residents who spend time volunteering abroad each year.
  • Diasporas Invest – In the U.S. and abroad, Diasporas are creating greater economic opportunities. Diaspora investors in the U.S. from India, Mexico, Ghana and elsewhere are providing much needed capital to home economies through various financial instruments. 
  • Diasporas are Engaged – Today, Diasporas are making significant contributions to their ancestral homes. USAID’s Diaspora Networks Alliance (DNA) framework guides its work with diaspora communities to promote economic and social growth in multiple countries.

Partnerships in Action

In recognition of the historic and growing influence of Diasporas on global development, USAID partners with Diaspora philanthropic and volunteer groups, investors, entrepreneurs and innovators to support and strengthen its assistance efforts abroad.  USAID leverages these partnerships even further by working with donors, foundations, and corporations that support diaspora engagement.

To unleash the potential of diaspora engagement, USAID in collaboration with the State Department created the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA). IdEA harnesses the global connections of diaspora communities to promote sustainable development in their countries of origin. 

USAID also works with Diaspora through a wide range of partnership initiatives that include: 

For more information on how diaspora organizations can partner with USAID, check out our Diaspora Toolkit, Diaspora Infographic or contact us.

Last updated: August 03, 2016

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