Author Archives: Jon Custer

Helping Diaspora Investors Make a Difference in their Home Countries

A money transfer service where people can receive remittances in Hong Kong. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A shop in Hong Kong where people can receive money sent from abroad. Remittances accounted for more than 80 percent of foreign investment into mainland China from 1979 to 1995. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“There is nothing more powerful than individuals motivated to invest in meaningful programs in their home countries,” said Eric-Vincent Guichard, the Founder and CEO of Homestrings, an online platform facilitating global diaspora investments.  The son of a Guinean father and an American mother, Eric spent most of his formative years in Guinea attending primary and secondary school before moving to the United States. From his personal experience, he knows the challenges that diaspora communities face when trying to invest in their country of origin.

Remittances comprise a significant portion of the foreign directed investment (FDI) in many countries. According to the World Bank, global remittances consistently dwarf foreign assistance by a factor of three, with $414 billion projected this year alone.  Even in countries that attract a lot of investment from global markets, the role of diaspora investment is substantial: between 1991 and 2001, the Indian diaspora was responsible for $2.8 billion of the $10 billion in foreign investment the flowed into the country. In China, diaspora investment accounted for the vast majority — 80 percent — of total FDI between 1979 and 1995.

Remittances have come to play this vital role as source of FDI despite various rules and regulations that make it difficult for individuals to invest in private companies back home. Traditionally, diaspora remittances have flowed mostly to family members, religious institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

These channels are invaluable when it comes to supporting charitable causes and small family businesses, but do not give investors much control over how the money is used or provide the opportunity to re-invest or make a profit. This significantly limits the potential of diaspora investment to develop larger, more productive businesses that can create jobs and economic growth back home.

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Meet the 2015 Global Photo Competition Winners


Joseph Balikuddembe, Uganda

Joseph Balikuddembe is a web application developer from Uganda. “[My] background and passion for fine arts manifested in my desire and love for photography, a passion am trying to grow as an amateur photographer. I take pictures mainly with my phone as I go about my day,” Balikuddembe said.

“When I met Jackie, the lady in the picture, it was at a mentorship expo organized with select youth entrepreneurs who were doing activities that they could share stories with those at the expo to learn how they made it and to impart skills that would empower youths to better their lives through skills development and for democratic empowerment, for which she was one of the mentors.

This was one of the pictures I took of her at her stall. I loved the way she was tutoring people to design clothes and clothes artifacts from scrap materials and from scrap clothes. Her display was one of the most popular. I took the picture with a hope that one day I will be able to tell her story, or the little I know of it.”

Meagan Moses, Texas, USA

Meagan Moses, Texas, USA

Meagan Moses is a third year student at the University of Texas, pursuing a degree in studio art with a certificate in innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity.  “My family includes several entrepreneurs and I have always been encouraged to work hard, set high goals, and to not let anything get in the way of obtaining those goals,” she said.

“My photo is of Lungile, a South Africa woman living in the township Imizamo Yethu. When visiting the Cape Town Township, I was in awe of the conditions in which these people lived.  Forced to do all that they can to earn a living, many people in this community are left with no option other than being entrepreneurial. Lungile worked out of an abandoned shack home stringing beads to create beauty wear for women within the township, and hopes of selling them as souvenirs to their visitors.”


Daniel Eguren, Venezuela

Daniel Eguren is a fine art photographer and filmmaker in Barquisimeto, Venezuela whose work has been recognized at a number of regional and international festivals. He also works on entrepreneurship and youth empowerment projects.

“My photo represents my personal journey from elementary school to the person I am today, a dreamer with a lot of ideas in mind, an entrepreneur, and a leader. Education is crucial to help and empower kids to find the right direction and to develop the skills of what they want to become when they grow up.

As far as I’m concerned teachers don’t really focus on developing kids skills so kids waste their ‘entrepreneurial spirit.’ If that’s the case, I think teachers have to focus more on that. I’m a believer that entrepreneurship and creating a company is not about personal benefit but it is for the community benefits, to service people needs and to contribute to the progress of the world. “

Thanks to the more than 100 photographers who entered the competition and to the hundreds who voted online for the winners! Each winner will receive a $250 USD honorarium for their photo.

Vote for the Winners of the 2015 Global Photo Competition


In a world saturated with media, the power of a single, compelling image can cut through the clutter. CIPE’s 2015 Global Photo Competition seeks to highlight creative and inspiring visual answers to this crucial question:

How can individuals be empowered to improve their lives and contribute to the democratic development of their communities and countries through entrepreneurship?

We received over 100 entries from dozens of countries, and our judging committee selected 10 as semi-finalists. Now, we want YOU to vote on the winners!

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Celebrating Ronald Coase’s Legacy with Practical Approaches to Economic Reform

Marginal Revolution blogger and George Mason University Professor Tyler Cowen moderates a panel on the future of economic research, featuring Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow.

Marginal Revolution blogger and George Mason University Professor Tyler Cowen moderates a panel on the future of economic research, featuring Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow.

Ronald Coase was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. As important as his theoretical contributions was the simple but profound idea of moving away from “blackboard economics” to look at real-world problems and how institutions actually work. This is an insight that informs our work at CIPE, and which influenced many new ideas and approaches in economics over Coase’s long working life (he published his last book at the age of 101, a year before his death in 2013).

On March 27-28, the Ronald Coase Institute and CIPE honored these contributions with a conference highlighting research and policy in the Coasean tradition, featuring Nobel laureates Kenneth Arrow and Oliver Williamson, distinguished senior scholars and practitioners, and young alumni of the Ronald Coase Institute.

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International Women’s Day Wrap-Up

women's day fb

Last week, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the CIPE Development Blog focused on stories of women’s empowerment from around the world:

And don’t forget to check out our Women’s Day Facebook photo album!

2014 Cartoon Competition Winners Announced!


The votes are in and above are the winners you selected in the 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition!

We received more than 350 entries from 67 countries. The winners are from Syria, El Salvador, and Indonesia. The competition provided a venue for artists from around the world to offer a personal interpretation of challenges faced by many citizens around the world.

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Kicking Off Global Entrepreneurship Week at CIPE


Each year CIPE celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week by highlighting the essential work its partners around the world are doing to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs and to support entrepreneurship, especially among traditionally excluded groups such as youth and women.

This week on the CIPE Development Blog we will be featuring success stories from CIPE-supported programs in Serbia, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Peru, Pakistan, and more! Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter at @CIPEGlobal, or on the Twitter hashtag #GEW2014 for updates!