Commercial intelligence & business opportunities

International trade and exports drive national economic growth. When coupled with appropriate supporting policies they accelerate progress in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Specifically, export improves productivity, promotes specialisation and generates employment & decent work, particularly for women. It has the potential to expand women’s economic role, decrease inequality, and expand their access to skills & education.

Although the diaspora is not a traditional partner for SMEs like national institutions or private organisations, it can facilitate export and address challenges to export, thanks to insider advantages languages, affinities and information.

Through research, dialogue and capacity development activities, EUDiF has built theoretical and practical knowledge on the different ways diaspora boost export. This page is based on the “Learning by doing” dossier in which we explore the roles of diaspora in catalysing export in two EUDiF actions in Armenia and Lebanon.

Read on for a précis, or download the publication for the complete reflection.


Key challenges

The domestic market

Economic and social issues that may not encourage private sector development.

Access to information

Limited information about destination market.

Consumer understanding

Limited awareness of sectoral consumer demand.

Access to networks

Lack of connections and leverage.

Newcomer image

Lower credibility of products and services in foreign markets.

Destination market distortions

Challenging tariff and non-tariff regulatory frameworks that impact the ability to compete in global market.

Diaspora roles in export

Diaspora perform many roles to assist businesses in their country of heritage to engage in international trade, in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The table below is a non-exhaustive list of these roles, three of which have featured prominently in EUDiF’s capacity development work: brokers, promoters and mentors.




With insider advantages in the destination market, diaspora can design and transfer knowledge to entrepreneurs back home.


Diaspora can act as ambassadors of domestic brands and contributors to economic diplomacy and national identity.


Diaspora can contribute as strategic mentors, role models and inspirational leaders for entrepreneurs back home.


Diaspora identities influence consumption and can create a demand for products made in their countries of heritage.


They can trade factors of production and end products in both directions.


Diaspora may be more likely to invest in local and grassroots businesses compared to international investors.


Strong and organised groups of diaspora members can advocate and lobby for policies that support SMEs to export to international markets.

Roles in action

Two EUDiF actions stand out for exploring the roles diaspora play in facilitating export: our work with the Armenian General Benevolent Union Europe (AGBU Europe), and with the Association Franco-Libanaise des Professionnels de l’Informatique (AFPI).

In these two actions, diaspora acted as mentors, brokers and promoters which had a great impact in achieving the following:

  • AGBU staff in Armenia receive a training session on mentorship tools.

  • Peer exchange of AGBU staff discussing the Women Entrepreneurs programme.


  • AFPI members sharing their insights during the closing meeting.

  • The women entrepreneurs post training session.

  • AFPI and EUDiF teams celebrate the end of the collaboration.