How to enable a diaspora fund

A few months ago, Hatem Mahbouli, an eminent TAYP member introduced the idea of launching a Diaspora fund based on crowd funding through the web. The premises have been quite simple: if thousands of Tunisians abroad become micro-investors of amounts as low as $500 each, then we can easily raise hundreds of thousands of dollars quite quickly. People from the Diaspora also fit in the profile of a social investor almost perfectly: they believe that development should also be done through entrepreneurs and investors, they usually have very high expectations in terms of social value created and express very low financial return requirements. Moreover, the internet would allow us to do that in a very cost-effective way. The execution, however, has been facing various challenges for the past months:

– Location of the fund: should the fund be located in Tunisia or abroad? If the location is Tunisia, then it would be almost impossible to get the micro-investments back in dollars. Should we pass through a foreign fund? How much would that cost? What would be the legal structure and the financial authorizations required?

– Local partners: Once the micro-investments raised and gathered within a proper and transparent fund, a solid local partner has to follow up with identifying and monitoring high impact entrepreneurs in need of these funds, in Tunisia. Following January 14th, various structures related to small entrepreneurs have emerged, but it is hard to tell who is really going to stay, to be sustainable and to maintain a long-term partnership

– Internet capabilities: the aim is that Tunisian micro-investors not only invest once, but keep coming back to our online platform, investing again, following our feeds and commenting on new projects financed. How do we technically approach that? How do we design an effective platform?

– Enthusiasm: One bet of this project is to leverage the huge interest gained after the revolution among Tunisians abroad. Interestingly, I feel that this energy is fading, when talking with my fellow Tunisians in US, UK and France, particularly after the somewhat surprising outcome of the elections. How do we reactivate this energy and this need to contribute?

Quite interesting challenges, right? Well, if you are interested in commenting, brainstorming, helping out, please feel free to contact Hatem at