By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Millennium Sustainable Development Goals (MSDG) Project has launched its D17.2 million Diaspora Development Fund (DDF) targeting 55 Gambian Diaspora fellows. After a successful pilot project which awarded a total of D4.685 million to 10 Gambian Diaspora Fellows in 2020/21, the DDF revealed plans to award an average of €5,000 to 55 more Gambian Diaspora Fellows.
The Gambian Diaspora contributes significantly to the Gambian Economy. The Central Bank of the Gambia noted that Diaspora remittances increased to $US773.7 million in 2021, up from $US589.81 million in 2020. This represents a 31% increase in remittances and a total contribution of D40.65 Billion in 2021.
According to Mr Gibril Faal OBE, one of the pioneers of the project, all “recipients are expected to generate further match-funding of at least €15,000 (Euros)” and should conclude the project within 12 to 26 weeks.
MSDG held an online project briefing on Sunday 8th May 2022 which presented the project briefing notes and application guidelines. The DDF Project is “co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and GK Partners and implemented by GK Partners in partnership with the Government of The Gambia”.
The Pilot DDF which concluded in 2021 funded “5 women and 5 men with bases in five countries namely: United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Of the 10 Fellows, 6 were still resident in the diaspora and 4 were recent returnees to the Gambia”.
The image below shows how the D4.685 million was awarded to the first 10 Awardees identified as MSDG Fellows/ Awardees from the initial Pilot Scheme.
According to the briefing notes and application guidelines “the purpose of the MSDG Diaspora Development Fund (DDF) is to use financial and technical resources as a practical means of stimulating, expanding and enhancing different forms of Gambian diaspora contributions to national development”.
Presenters revealed that the specific aims and objectives of the project are to “expand project interventions in rural and urban Gambia, enhance collaborations and co-working with local partners, increase cash and in-kind contributions, and collective remittances from the diaspora, leverage diaspora resources and networks to increase resource mobilisation, facilitate and optimise the development benefits of Gambian Diaspora [Brain-Gain]”.
The DDF project is a “co-finance or match funding” project which means that all awardees are expected to raise €15,000 after receiving the €5,000 grant. There are three categories of MSDG Fellows identified in the briefing notes which are; “30 individual professionals and experts working with partners in the Gambia, 15 diaspora organisations working on different aspects of rural development and 10 impact entrepreneurs investing in different forms of job creation and economic development”.
With regards to eligibility for the grants, the briefing notes and guidelines note that applicants should be “Gambian citizens based in the diaspora or having returned to The Gambia in the past 5 years, Gambian Diaspora Development Organisation formally registered in the diaspora, Project/Assignment in Gambia creating jobs or other measurable positive socioeconomic impacts, Formal project partner in the Gambia which can be civil society, NGO, government or social enterprise, Ability to generate co-finance/match-funding of €15,000 in cash or in-kind resources and Ability to complete the project/assignment within a timeframe of 12 to 26 weeks”.
A DDF Awards Panel has been established, composed of professionals “familiar with Gambian diaspora development issues and the MSDG Project” has been “selected from the MSDG Project Advisory Board (PAB)”. Although five members have been identified on the PAB two more members are yet to be confirmed. It is expected that the two members will have specialist skills in rural and youth matters.
The five confirmed members of the PAB are;
- Mr Musa Camara – Director of the Gambian Diaspora and Migration Directorate (GDMD) Deputy Permanent Secretary and Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
- Ms Fatou Jagne-Senghore – Human Rights Lawyer and Development Practitioner Chair of GRTS and Former Regional Director of ARTICLE 19,
- Ms Haddy Lamin-Njie – Development Programme and Finance Specialist Former Country Director of VSO Gambia and Former International Civil Servant (UNDP & FAO),
- Mr Abdoul Salaam Secka – Business and Programme Development Consultant Founding Technical Director of the MSDG Project and Former CEO of GCCI
- Dr Sainabou Taal – Researcher and Specialist in Migration and Development Former Consultant for MSDG Project and IOM Gambia [Chair of the Awards Panel].