UCT's Graduate School of Business (GSB), in association with the World Bank, has established an international diaspora network of ex-South African business professionals that will pave the way for South African businesses to capitalise on international opportunities.
The project is one of a number of World Bank initiatives to test the opportunities for mobilising diaspora networks to boost economic growth and investment in developing countries.
"There is growing evidence that the economic and investment potential of diasporas could become an important development resource for low-income countries," said World Bank Senior Country Economist Lev Freinkman. "While expansion of new companies in developing economies is often constrained by lack of market knowledge and the high costs of entering new markets, diasporas accumulate considerable business, networking and marketing skills that could reduce these barriers for market penetration and growth."
The GSB's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is managing the establishment of the South African Diaspora Network. CIE Director Mike Herrington said that the World Bank's decision to award the contract to the GSB had been based on its reputation as South Africa's leading tertiary institution with regard to innovation and entrepreneurship teaching and research, along with its successful track record in supporting start-up businesses and building networks.
Herrington led a fact-finding mission to the UK in June to lay the groundwork for the Network. The GSB contacted UCT and Stellenbosch business school graduates who are now living in the UK, and hosted a workshop in London to introduce the concept. The South African Business Club, which has 450 active ex-South African members living in London, also participated in the event.