Group picture with Diaspora leaders and partners Dec retreat
News • Africa
December 23, 2022
Action insights: Meet the African diaspora leaders building a community for change in Spain

As part of the CDL action with Africa 2.0 Spain, supported by Ashoka, the first community of African Diaspora Leaders in Spain has been established. The leaders are gearing up to work together for sustainable change locally and globally.

A year after its launch, our action with Africa 2.0 Spain now has a thriving community of 13 Diaspora African leaders in Spain. These leaders are now in the midst of a training programme to help them combine their abilities to support social entrepreneurs across Africa through investment, skills and partnership.

Before joining Africa 2.0 Spain’s initiative, the leaders were already working on social impact projects in their respective cities in Spain (Barcelona, Bilbao, Canarias, Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia), as well as in their countries of heritage: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. African proverb

Who are the leaders?

The community is an eclectic mix of people who use their skills and positions to bring about positive change within their spheres of influence. There are creatives such as actor and media representation activist Armando Buika (The Black View), as well as presenter Lucía Asué Mbomío Rubio, one of only four presenters of colour on Spanish national television. Both Armando and Lucía use their positions to share stories of the diverse diaspora within Spain and thus increase diaspora visibility.

Academia is represented strongly by Leticia Asumu Bengo (Espacio de formación para mujeres y niñas en zonas Rurales), Mafini Dosso (Immo Research), Marcelle Mardon and Selam Petros. All three are interested in supporting civil society organisations working in development, or are already doing so. The community of leaders has helped to create a space to share experiences and cultivate change-making possibilities.

Many leaders are themselves founders of diaspora organisations and their experiences have been invaluable in discussions on what the community could do collectively. Founders include Nicole Ndongala (Asociación Libanga Ya Talo), Georges Belinga (Koops f34), Jolie Mputela (IRDAS – Return Initiative for the Development of Sub-Saharan Africa), Marie Lucie Monsheneke (FAMEK ELKARTEA) and Sani Ladan (Asociación Elín).

Finally, there are those that support others to enhance their leadership potential such as Papa Balla Ndong who has expertise in navigating decision making spaces (local government, public institutions etc.) and training on migration and intercultural cohesion. As well as Jean-David Kouassigan, who builds partnerships and works with social entrepreneurs to develop a broader understanding of the intersection between the international development agenda and their personal goals.

Leading and learning

This year has shown us the importance and impact of leading with passion, it has also highlighted the necessity of being able to learn from past experiences and from each other, which the leaders have been doing during the retreats organised by EUDiF, Africa 2.0 and Ashoka.

At the most recent retreat in November, it was great to hear how much the leaders benefit from being brought together. Not only do such gatherings create community spirit, but they also lead to new ideas. In fact, four of the women leaders have created a sub-network to support African diaspora women in Spain, inspired by being part of the leaders’ community.

“We haven’t had open doors, but we are opening them for others.” Nicole Ndongala

The community’s attention is focused on their next steps: there is interest in setting up a mentoring and knowledge sharing programme with students in Africa. Connections have already been made with Ashoka’s social entrepreneur fellows on the continent for co-creation and joint work.  

As the leaders continue to stay connected remotely, access expertise through online training and work with partners to establish their collective actions, we look forward to the outcomes –  planned and organic – that stem from this exciting partnership and new community of dynamic leaders.

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