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2015-12_dc

32 D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 Africans in Germany Drivers of change Diaspora communities’ role in starting new business tends to be underestimated. Start-up companies are good for the countries of residence and for the countries of origin. African professionals in Germany often serve as bridge builders between the continents. By Abdou Rahime Diallo Entrepreneurship is on the rise among immigrants living in the world’s advanced economies. In the past, it mainly focussed on small corner shops that sold goods from Africa or Asia as well as other merchandise. However, many start-ups are more sophisticated and ambitious today. Some migrants, moreo- ver, contribute to the economic development of their countries of ori- gin. They do so in three important ways: ■■ Diaspora direct invest- ments (DDI) fosters business develop- ment, job creation and innovation, all of which help to drive development in general. ■■ DDI also create social and political capi- tal in global networks, linking devel- oping countries to the international community and giving them access to advanced technologies and business models. ■■ Diaspora entrepreneurs have specific linguistic and cultural competences and thus provide opportunities for third par- ties. In Germany in particular, African migrants are likely to start a business. There are three main reasons: ■■ Their personal, intercultural and profes- sional competences empower them to take well calculated risks and discover market niches. ■■ Germany’s social environment is chal- lenging, if not hostile, for Africans, and many members of the diaspora cannot find the kind of professional jobs they are qualified for. Many of them start companies of their own. ■■ Germany only had few African colo- nies, and lost them all after World War I. Accordingly, its ties to Africa are weaker than those of Britain, France or Belgium, for instance. Many German companies and entrepreneurs are hardly aware of Africa, so opportunities arise in Ger- many for Africans who understand Afri- ca’s potential. African-owned businesses are becoming more and more diverse in Germany. The first generation of diaspora entrepreneurs tended to open Afro Shops to sell African food, cosmetics, clothes and hairstyles. Today, some start-ups offer IT services and solutions or financial transfers. A number of young African have become business consultants moreover. African diplomats are keen on Ger- man investments in their home countries. They point out, however, that, south of the Sahara, cooperation with Chinese or Indian companies often seems easier. Ste- fan Liebing of Afrika-Verein, the German Diaspora entrepreneurs do much more than run Afro-shops in Germany. Böthling/Photography Tribune

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