Kenya has introduced its first licensed investment fund for citizens living overseas, in a move that is expected to channel more of the diaspora’s money into development projects across the country.
Almost three million Kenyans living in mostly North America and Europe sent an estimated $3bn in remittances to Kenya last year, representing the largest source of foreign exchange for the country.
While remittances are usually sent to families, direct investment is also common though studies have shown that difficult procedures, lack of information and informal channels often lead to unsuccessful ventures.
Kenya’s diaspora can now make investments through the African Diaspora Asset Managers (ADAM), an investment firm that has been granted the first licence of its kind for a diaspora fund by the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority.
The fund is expected to provide a safe and regulated investing body for Kenyans living overseas.
It also allows payments to be made using Kenya’s popular mobile money platform M-Pesa, enabling Kenyans to make investments from as little as five dollars.
Susan Muigai, ADAM’s head of global business development, said: “The use of technology will be the hallmark of the five diaspora funds, available to investors from all over the world as well as Kenyans. Using the ADAM mobile app, they are able to invest, check their investment balances and even sell their units in real time using VISA cards, bank accounts and MPESA.”
Abubakar Hassan, director of market operations at the Capital Markets Authority, added: “Kenyans living in the diaspora send billions home every year, but mostly for consumption and social support. A few have tried their hand in investments including real estate and farming, but without a way to establish what is happening on the ground, it has in numerous instances ended up with them losing their hard-earned money. We are delighted with this development, as all this will now be a thing of the past, as those investing through these licensed diaspora Funds will have the recourse and protection of the CMA as a regulator.”