U.S. Government Supports New Digital Platform for Lebanon to Engage the Diaspora
U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard joined Prime Minister Hariri on Thursday to launch the Diaspora Investment and Development platform, developed with the support of a $1,050,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Held at the Grand Serail, the launch event took place in the presence of the Prime Minister, Ministers, mayors and other municipality officials, Lebanese diaspora and private sector representatives. This innovative platform connects the Lebanese Diaspora with their ancestral home towns to foster collaborative action to support the continued development of Lebanon.
In her remarks, the Ambassador stressed the impressive contributions of the Lebanese diaspora community to both the United States and Lebanon, and expressed continuing U.S. support for Lebanon’s economic development, security and stability.
DiasporaID provides the opportunity for diaspora around the globe to mobilize their expertise and resources and digitally engage in development projects in Lebanese communities and villages. These could include investment opportunities, fundraising efforts for local projects, on-line mentoring for young people, and marketing and purchasing the goods of local Lebanese businesses. This grant is part of a larger U.S. Government commitment to support economic development and job creation in Lebanon, including over $45 million invested over the last three years.
Following are Ambassador Richard’s remarks at the ceremony:
Good morning everyone, Your Excellency Prime Minister Hariri, Esteemed Ministers, Members of Parliament, and our friends at Netways, ladies and gentlemen. I am so happy to be here with all of you to officially launch the Diaspora Investment and Development platform - DiasporaID. I would especially like to especially thank Prime Minister Hariri for graciously hosting this event to promote the important role that the diaspora can play in Lebanon’s economic prosperity. I think it is very meaningful that we are doing this here, in the seat of government today. With his support, we are confident that the platform we will launch today will build stronger ties between the U.S. and Lebanon by energizing this diaspora to support Lebanon’s development.
About 40 million Americans are first or second-generation immigrants, and this includes several very impressive millions of Lebanese descent, they are among our most successful immigrants.
They have become national leaders, including four currently sitting members of our Congress. Some of our leading scientists in the globe are from Lebanon, including Elias James Corey, who was the 1990 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, regarded by many as one of the greatest living chemists. Some are successful businessmen and women, including Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinkos, and Debra Cafaro, the CEO of the investment firm Ventas, and one of only two women named by Harvard Business Review in its list of the “Top 50 Best Performing CEOs in the World” and that is three years in a row. Very impressive.
Lebanese Americans are also doctors, influential writers, entertainers, and innovators.
Yet these great Americans maintain a profound connection to Lebanon because of family, friends, and a deep sense of cultural heritage. They have diverse experiences, they have connections, and they have exceptional human and capital resources at their disposal. And so many of them are looking for a way to contribute directly to Lebanon’s development and prosperity… even from abroad.
We in the U.S. government believe in Lebanon and we have invested over $45 million in just the past 3 years in economic development, start-up capital for new businesses, and training and mentoring for young entrepreneurs. You know there are many many success stories, and I wish I had time to tell them all, but I want to highlight one. A young Lebanese gentleman, who was a beneficiary of a USAID grant for about $200,000 to start a biotechnology company, and do you know his company is working on a minimally invasive device that many expect is going to revolutionize heart surgery. These are very impressive outcomes of our investments as a US government in Lebanon. And we are very proud of these investments, but it’s equally important to help our friends in the diaspora also give back to the country.
And that’s why we are so pleased to help launch this very innovative social network called DiasporaID. Through a grant of over $1 million, we’ll help create a platform that will help Lebanese Americans - and Lebanese around the globe – quite frankly, strengthen their connection to their communities of origin. We’ll help them turn their general sense of wanting to help their own country into concrete opportunities to create jobs, to raise funds for local projects, to provide on-line mentoring for young people, or to market and purchase the products of Lebanese small businesses. With DiasporaID, they will be able to easily access this platform from anywhere in the world to make a positive change back home.
We are very proud to support this innovative Lebanese private sector initiative, led by Netways, and I couldn’t be more happy to be here with Roula Moussa who is actually one of the most inspirational examples of someone who has not only succeeded, quite extensively on her own, but who has come back to Lebanon to help others succeed. And I think that’s really the spirit of giving back to the country that we are so proud of being associated with. So thank you Roula. And I want to thank everyone for being with us to launch this today. I think it is one of the most exceptional initiatives that I’ve seen in quite some time and I’m sure will be very successful.