Tapping into diaspora and migrant communities to promote rural development

How one agripreneur is boosting agriculture and employment in his home country of Uganda

Thanks to his commitment to improving agriculture and employment in his home country, Andrew Bamugye won the 2020 Ugandan Diaspora Agribusiness Investor Award, a joint initiative between FAO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda and the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance. ©Uganda Agribusiness Alliance


The term diaspora, derived from an ancient Greek word meaning ‘to scatter about’, refers to individuals and members of networks who have left their countries of origin but maintain links with their homelands. Many countries, and even continents, have a long history of internal and international migration. In Africa, about 32 million migrants moved within and beyond the continent between 1990 and 2015.

While living abroad, diaspora communities can actually be a potent force for development for their countries of origin, not only through remittances but also through the promotion of trade, investments, research, innovation and knowledge or technology transfers between their current host country and their country of origin.

Through the “Strengthening capacity to harness positive effects of migration” programme, FAO is working in Uganda to enhance the benefits that migration can have on agriculture and rural development. The programme offers tailored business management coaching to diaspora who are looking to invest in businesses in their home countries, stimulating knowledge transfer and local employment in the agri-food system. One entrepreneur taking part in the project is Andrew Bamugye, a Ugandan national who now lives in Zimbabwe.

Andrew’s story

In 2008, Andrew left Uganda and moved first to South Africa, then to Zambia and now to Zimbabwe to work for the Trade and Development Bank. However, he always felt a hankering for his home country, and after three years of being abroad, he was inspired to use some of the skills he learned to set up a new business in Uganda, providing employment and knowledge opportunities for young people. Now, he is the Managing Director of Destiny Farms Limited, a poultry farm in Buloba, just outside the capital of Kampala.

Andrew runs his Ugandan farm from Zimbabwe, with the help of his family and his 11 young employees. ©Uganda Agribusiness Alliance

“I studied poultry business models deeply and leveraged them to start Destiny Farms Limited,” Andrew explains. “We had a plot of land of two acres in Uganda that we could start with. So, in 2011, I registered the business with my wife and, with the support of my elder brother in operations, we took off!” 

Andrew knew running his business from abroad wouldn’t be easy, but with his brother Christopher Sematimba running the day-to-day tasks and through online daily meetings and an established governance structure, it was manageable.

Andrew’s farm holds 25 000 broiler chickens producing over 150 000 broilers per year. Using the methods he learned abroad, the company sales and profits have almost doubled in the last three years. He has expanded to employ 11 young people under the age of 30, and he has worked hard to serve as a role model and impart anentrepreneurial mindset, helping his staff improve their business skills. For example, he focused on improving the farms efficiency using innovative technologies, including switching out expensive charcoal for sustainable eco-stoves that use volcanic rock to keep the chicks warm. This not only helped the environment but saved his business over USD 12 000 per year.

Knocking down the barriers

Andrew is committed to inspiring other Ugandan diaspora and youth agripreneurs, helping to boost the agriculture sector in his home country. From Zimbabwe, he offers others his technical support on the poultry sector and business model development through online platforms and social media.

Creating an enabling environment for diaspora to engage in the development of their country of origin is key to maximizing the impact of their activities. To encourage this, FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance launched the first Ugandan Diaspora Agribusiness Investor Award to celebrate successful diaspora agripreneurs and their contributions to their communities. Andrew was delighted to be one of these winners, with judges commending hissuccessful business model, impressive turnover and strong commitment to employing young people. The award will provide Andrew and Destiny Farms with new media exposure and access to a network of agri-food service providers, as well as tailored coaching and participation in national agribusiness exhibitions in order to strengthen his business yet further.

Now, Andrew is planning to launch an agri-consulting firm to encourage others who have moved abroad to bring their skills and knowledge back to Uganda and invest in agriculture.  

Andrew runs Destiny Farms Ltd from abroad, relying on his brother Christopher (pictured above) to manage the day-to-day of the farm. Over the past three years, the company’s sales and profits have almost doubled. ©Uganda Agribusiness Alliance

With Andrew’s business as a clear example, knowledge and investment from diaspora can have a big impact on improving skills and generating employment opportunities in countries around the world.  As a sign of the increasing recognition of diaspora contributions, in 2019, 73 percent of governments globally reported having a dedicated department or Ministry for diaspora engagement, citizens abroad or overseas employment. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this is true of 91 percent of governments, showing just how important diaspora are to their home countries.

“Agriculture is a big business and an engine of economic growth,” Andrew says, and tapping into the knowledge and resources of diaspora is a key way of doing so. Through projects that connect diaspora with their home countries, FAO helps generate local employment opportunities and promote rural development.

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8. Decent work and economic growth, 10. Reduced inequalities