Two continents, one platform: working together to create new jobs in Africa
The African diaspora in Germany are providing specific support to promote business ideas in their countries of origin. Cameroon is a good example of what this means in practice.
Nadege Meyong and Fred-Eric Essam met by the side of a road in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé. While he was out for a walk, Essam spotted a young woman with a sewing machine sitting in a container. Essam, who was born in Cameroon but has lived in Rheinbach near Cologne for many years, takes up the story: ‘I know a bit about sewing machines, so I went to talk to her,’ he says. His initial intention was simply to give Nadege Meyong his old sewing machine, which was better than the one she had. However, after meeting her again, he was so impressed by her work that he decided he wanted to support her financially, too.
To find out how to target his support most effectively, Essam turned to WIDU.africa. The project cooperates with the African diaspora in Germany to support small-scale entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been managing the project since 2019 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Using a digital platform, WIDU.africa enables the Cameroonian, Ghanaian and Kenyan diaspora in Germany to support entrepreneurs in their countries of origin. There is huge potential: members of the African diaspora in Germany send remittances worth EUR 1.5 billion to their countries of origin each year. However, it is rare for this money to be invested in entrepreneurship. And this is where WIDU.africa comes in. Supporters and entrepreneurs invest their own money in a business idea, and the project matches their investment and provides up to EUR 2,500 in support for each idea. The entrepreneurs also receive tailored business coaching. This money from the diaspora directly supports the development of businesses in Africa. Over the last 12 months alone, WIDU.africa has registered 3,600 projects.
The support has really changed things for Nadege Meyong. The extra resources have enabled her to buy more sewing machines and take on three workers. Within a short time, she has tripled her turnover. WIDU.africa has also provided her with a coach to advise her on bookkeeping and business planning, among other things.
Fred-Eric Essam is back in Germany but is following her story closely. ‘Nadege regularly sends photos and tells me about her plans,’ he says. She has already come up with the next idea – to make wedding dresses to boost her income further.