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"Caribbean encourages diaspora to re-engage with homeland"
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"Caribbean encourages diaspora to re-engage with homeland"

Caribbean countries are increasingly seeking to galvanize their diaspora communities abroad to more actively contribute to national development, reports Nakeeta Nembhard, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Jamaica.

The Caribbean Diaspora communities have long been a catalyst in the development of their home countries.

In a paper discussing the impact of the Diaspora on inward investment within the Caribbean, Diaspora Studies scholar Franklin Joseph posits that the Diaspora remains an underutilized resource for promoting economic development.

Joseph notes that “the Diaspora has the potential to contribute to the well being of the Caribbean region via investments in human capital, financial investments [along with]… real sector investments… which can take the form of trade in nostalgic goods and entrepreneurial investments”.

As many Caribbean countries approach their 50th Anniversary of Independence, there has been much focus on further engagement of the Diaspora as countries seek to strategically position themselves for the future based on lessons learnt from the last half century. One such initiative which is seeking to encourage nationals living abroad to come home and play a more active role in their homeland is the Grand Jamaica Homecoming (GJH).

A major undertaking of the Jamaican Homecoming Canada diasporic association, the year-long GJH programme has major support and representation from key members of Jamaican society as well as the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada, and consists of activities and events which target schools, churches, business interests along with community outreach.

Donette Chin Loy, President of Grand Jamaica Homecoming, noted that GJH has collaborated with a number of stakeholders including Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade enabling the organization to reach all of Jamaica’s overseas missions and that the response from members of the Diaspora has been very positive.

The initiative has also partnered with national trade and investment agency Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) to host business-to-business activities which will highlight worthwhile business opportunities for members of the Diaspora. Chin Loy added that the initiative has allowed for the formation of strategic business connections between Jamaica and Canada which will allow for enhanced partnerships and networking in both countries.

Additionally, GJH has also forged partnerships with the University of the West Indies, and various sector groupings, within the banking and tourism sectors among others, through the membership of its Advisory Council. Such collaboration has afforded the initiative the scope to engage a large number of Jamaicans and have them become directly involved in the various activities.

Grand Jamaica Homecoming is but one of a number of initiatives occurring during Jamaica’s Jubilee. The initiative is a significant testament to the efforts of the Diaspora being leveraged for the continued growth and development of the home-state.

It is anticipated that with programmes such as GJH coupled with the retrospection characteristic of milestones such as 50 Years of Independence that the drive to galvanize members of the Diaspora to more actively participate in matters related to their homeland will increase exponentially.

This is indeed promising as Jamaica seeks to leverage “love-of-country” not only for the creation of in-roads into overseas markets but as a catalyst for the enhancement of the country’s own growth and prosperity.

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About me:

“I am a development practitioner whose particular area of interest is the relationship between people and their physical environment. My formal training has allowed me to gain an appreciation of the development process and the factors involved in achieving national development objectives.

“I hold a Masters of Science Degree with distinction in Sociology and am a recipient of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Academics. Currently I am employed to the national trade and investment promotion agency, JAMPRO, as a consulting officer in planning and policy development.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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