Ed note. The UN Dispatch team is covering a host of conferences in New York City this week,  including the Social Good Summit which kicked off today.  If you are in New York, come by to the 92Y and say ‘hi.’  If you are anywhere else in the world, you can follow the conversation on Twitter (hashtag #SGSGlobal) or via the live feed, now available in 7 languages! –Mark 

The African diaspora — the emigration of millions of Africans to Europe and elsewhere — has had an enormous impact on the continent in recent years. As doctors, nurses, lawyers and engineers have left their home countries, their skills have gone with them. But although those emigrants may have moved thousands of miles away, they are still very much tied to their homelands.

This is the idea Project Diaspora is founded upon. The nonprofit, started in 2007 by TMS “Teddy” Ruge, a native of Uganda, uses the power of the Internet to engage members of the African diaspora in the sustainable economic development of the countries they call home.

Ruge believes the diaspora can effect powerful change. Its members send $40 billion in remittances to Africa annually, according to Project Diaspora’s website. Project Diaspora is bottom-up rather than a top-down solution, and a hand up rather than a hand out.

One Project Diaspora’s related projects, Project UMPG, provides Ugandan farmers with the resources and information to access markets for medicinal plants. Another, Villages in Action, gives the poor of Africa a forum to express their opinions and ideas for the economic development of their communities.

“It’s not about you creating solutions for us,” Ruge said at the Social Good Summit in New York City on Saturday. “It’s us creating solutions for our own problems.”

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