In Ghana, the Diaspora is Fueling a Social Enterprise Liftoff

Social enterprise in Ghana is taking off, and Ghanaians returning from living and studying abroad are playing a key role in that liftoff. In a recent British Council and Overseas Development Institute study exploring the landscape of social enterprise in Ghana, one stakeholder suggested that about 60 percent of all social enterprise activity in Ghana is influenced by returnees.

Around 3 million Ghanaian nationals live abroad, mostly in Africa, although there are large Ghanaian communities in parts of Europe and North America; for example, approximately 100,000 people born in Ghana live in the UK, according to the 2011 UK Census. In the last decade or so, political stability and growing economic prosperity have attracted many Ghanaians in the diaspora, including second- and third-generation offspring of migrants, to return to live and work in their country of origin. People come back to retire, to work for big companies, to set up charities, and increasingly, to start social enterprises. Ghana’s Right to Abode Act allows people from the global African diaspora (mostly people whose ancestors were taken out of Africa during the Atlantic slave trade) to settle and work in Ghana. This is likely widening the brain gain significantly.

A stakeholder interviewed for the study suggested that going abroad and returning to Ghana changes people’s attitudes about problems faced by the country. When people travel abroad, they “get exposure from seeing problems from a different perspective. When they are living in Ghana, they don’t see things as a problem that needs to be addressed, they just adapt to the situation as it is. Travelling abroad changes their mindset. They come back and realise they can do something about it.”


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Jimmy Quansah

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