Harnessing the African Diaspora

(Eric Halsey) #1

“What I found is that even though the continent is diverse, the diaspora is just as diverse. We’re unified in the spirit of doing something for the continent.”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of Remit.ug and Hive Colab

Teddy Ruge has in part built his success on harnessing the power of the African Diaspora while building businesses in Uganda. Being a member of the Ugandan diaspora himself was an advantage, but not the whole story. Here’s how he came to understand just what the diaspora could do to help him build successful businesses in Uganda.

##Understanding the Diaspora

“One of the first things I did was I figured that in order to figure out what I wanted to do I had to read about it, understand it, engage it. So I started Project diaspora. I wanted to understand the role of the diaspora in the development of the continent. I would blog about what’s interesting, remittances, government policies towards the diaspora. I wanted to know what other members of the diaspora were doing and whether it was the same around the continent.”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of Remit.ug and Hive Colab

For Teddy, the way to understand the diaspora began with blogging. This allowed him to begin writing, making a name for himself within this community, and getting input from other diaspora members about their communities. This technique took several years, but ultimately it gave Ruge both deep knowledge of diaspora communities and some credibility amongst those communities. The next step for him was to do something wth this knowledge and reputation.

##Using the Diaspora

“The advantage of the diaspora is the global perspective. We know what is possible from a global perspective as opposed to the narrow perspective within the education system. Uganda is all about wrote memorization and killing creativity.”
-Teddy Rouge, Founder of Raintree Farms, Co-founder of Remit.ug and Hive Colab

One of Teddy’s first businesses in Uganda was Remit.ug. This remittance service offers better prices and service for members of the diaspora to send money back home. Starting this business required understanding that both diaspora members and their families back in Africa were his customers. As such, the knowledge he developed about both groups helped immensely.

Another project for Ruge was Hive Colab. This Ugandan co-working space aims at fostering a real community of entrepreneurs in Kampala. But doing this also required bringing the different perspective and skills of the diaspora to bear.

In both cases, understanding that both native Africans and members of the diaspora have a unique set of skills helped bring Ruge success in his projects.