Are you a global nomad, a third culture kid, a bi-national, a migrant? Or your parents are? Then you are in good company. Globally, around 215 million people live outside of their country of birth. A much higher number of individuals were born and raised outside their parents’ home country. Many are transnationals with personal and professional ties in their ‘host’ countries and their ‘home’ countries, being both ‘here’ and ‘there’.
Much is happening globally: Development financing institutions, social impact investors and support organizations are starting to think about how to harness the commitment, skills, and financial means of the diaspora community to contribute to the development of their home-country. Here are some examples:
And in the Turkish diaspora?
With 4.3 million emigrants Turkey is amongst the top 10 emigration countries worldwide (World Bank 2011). Many Turkish emigrants maintain a close connection to Turkey supporting family and friends in their home-country. In 2011, Turkey received a total of USD 1,087 million in remittances mostly from Germany (66%). Smaller total contributions came from France (6%) Netherlands (5%), Austria (4%) but only around 3% from the US and UK. Many with Turkish roots have never sent any remittances. They rather look for ways to network with people who share similar experiences, to do business, to engage in mentoring and to support social projects in Turkey. There are an increasing number of organizations that cater for these needs: starting with the American-Turkish Society founded in 1949 enhancing business, economic, political, and cultural ties between Turkey and the United States to more recently launched initiatives such as the fundraising platform Bridge to Türkiye, the Turkish Philanthropy Fund, professional women networking organization TurkishWIN, and Alumni Turk.
What is common to the most active Turkish diaspora organizations and initiatives is that they are based in the US. Interestingly, I found it difficult to identify similar organizations in other countries with a high percentage of Turkish diaspora such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, or the UK. I was told that this was because the socio-economic background and therefore their interests and income differed significantly from that of the Turkish diaspora in the US. I was also told that compared to, for example the Indian Diaspora, there was little connection between Turkish communities in different countries – even when people return to Turkey (or arrive here for the first time).
But let’s just assume that there were at least some in the Turkish diaspora with great professional experience, networks, financial wealth, and a commitment to contribute to the development of Turkey. Important questions we need to ask are: What exactly are they looking for: what are they ready to contribute (money, time, expertise, networks) and what do they expect to gain from any engagement? How can we raise their interest in the field of venture philanthropy and social investment to match these needs and expectations and make their involvement as convenient and easy as possible? Are there any legal barriers for diaspora investing? And: what can the government do to facilitate diaspora engagement for social impact?
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