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Leaders from the UK’s African diaspora are being invited to join a powerful new network aimed at supporting sustainable development across the African continent.

Working in collaboration with Comic Relief and Unbound Philanthropy, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) aims to harness the power of the UK diaspora in order to combat persistent levels of poverty and unemployment among their communities in the UK and Africa.

Over a period of more than a year, participants will be tasked with identifying and developing a ‘venture’ – business, social enterprise or project – that addresses a particular cause or issue they are passionate about.

The new leadership programme will build on individuals’ knowledge and skills and add to the already extensive levels of aid remitted by the UK diaspora. According to the World Bank, the size of remittances flowing from the UK reached $23bn in 2012 – making the UK’s diaspora the fourth biggest sender of remittances in the world.

The project, supported by Comic Relief’s Common Ground initiative, will provide diaspora individuals with further leadership skills, confidence and contacts in order to promote longer-lasting change within their heritage communities. In addition, the project will make special provision for young potential ChangeMakers under the age of 25, and women.

Commenting on the project, the RSA’s Gaia Marcus said:

“Across the UK, we know that there are hundreds of people from the African diaspora working hard to improve the lives of others in their communities. Too often these people go unnoticed and their talents untapped.

“The Diaspora ChangeMakers project is our attempt to better harness their passion, energy and ideas. Whether it be a Ghanaian interested in tackling youth unemployment, or someone with a Kenyan background seeking to widen people’s access to healthcare, the support we provide will take them one step closer to achieving the change they want to see in the world.”

Commenting on the project, Diaspora ChangeMakers champion and entrepreneur Octavia Goredema MBE said:

“Diaspora ChangeMakers provides a catalyst for social action, creating a platform for community leaders, businesses, social enterprises here in the UK and across the African continent.  It’s a ground-breaking opportunity that I’m truly honoured to support.”

Thousands of individuals up and down the country already engage in these activities such as:

  • Ugandan born Ida Horner supports women in East African communities through her social enterprise, Ethnic Supplies, which sources handmade handicrafts and fashion accessories to sell in the UK.

  • Arnold Sarfo-Kantaka started his business, Mi Firi Ghana, to sell patriotic t-shirts to Ghanaian diaspora; the business grew into a multi-platform social enterprise with a charity spin-off called the WAM Campaign encouraging young people to volunteer with children in Ghana.

The project is now underway and the RSA is encouraging interested parties to get in touch. Anyone who wishes to take part, or who wants to nominate someone else, may do so by visiting the Diaspora Changemakers project page

Notes to editors  

  1. For more information contact RSA Head of Media, Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)

  2. About Comic Relief: Comic Relief is a UK charity, which aims to create a just world, free from poverty. The money raised by Comic Relief, through its fundraising campaigns Red Nose Day and Sport Relief as well as other initiatives, is spent by Comic Relief to support some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world. Comic Relief was launched on Christmas Day in 1985, live on BBC One.  At that time, a devastating famine was crippling Ethiopia and something had to be done.  That something was Comic Relief.  The idea was simple – Comic Relief would make the public laugh while they raised money to help people in desperate need.  Before too long, Red Nose Day was created and the first ever event in 1988 raised a staggering £15m. For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit their website.Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)

  3. About Unbound Philanthropy: Unbound Philanthropy is a private grantmaking foundation dedicated to ensuring that migrants, refugees, and their families are treated with respect and dignity; are able to contribute fully in their new communities; and can ultimately thrive in a society that is comfortable with the diversity and opportunity that immigration brings. Visit their official website for more information.


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