African Diaspora Investment Symposium #ADIS2017 | Insights from Dan Smaller, Head of Partnerships at Movement Capital

27th – 28th January, 2017: Silicon Valley – San Jose, CA

Day 1

9am: African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS) about to start.  Must be over 200 entrepreneurs, fund managers, African diaspora and DFI all gathered here in the heart of Silicon Valley to try and leverage the diaspora dollars and increase the investment flow to Africa from this important source of wealth.

USAID used this platform to announce new initiatives to support businesses that assist the flow and as well support educational initiatives in local content and language. Grants available from $100-250k and must be on by April. Very exciting as the DFI community continues to recognise and support such an important source.

11am: Just moderated an exciting (if I must say so myself) 90-minute panel. Wale Ayeni from re IFC, Idriss Bello from LoftyInc and Neal Hansch from Sherpa Foundry. Great combo of Government, local investment fund and partnership consultant. We discussed what needs to be done to improve the flow of diaspora dollars in terms of process, support, systems and process. Crowd was on their feet… when we finished as we broke for lunch right after.

1pm: Great round table discussions over lunch to squeeze something out of every minute. Each lunch table covered specific topics and tried to make actionable plans that table moderators were tasked to develop credible follow-ups. We tackled education and Dr Olaf Hahn of Robert Bosch Stiftung, as moderator, did a great job keeping us on topic and extracting the best out of a divergent group.

6pm: Day 1 closes to the drumming of local music and a glass of wine… or two. Jet lag takes over and pillow far too enticing but not before talking to African entrepreneurs from the Bay Area with great ideas and projects designed to solve some of biggest issues and impediments of development; energy, water and mentorship. So much energy, great to see!!!

Day 2

9am: It’s Saturday so suits and ties left at home and colourful local dress helps to surprise the eyes as last night’s sleep was interrupted way too early due to thoughts of the previous day. Today we are friends talking and tackling issues to support flow of funds and ideas. Almaz put on a great programme and I’m for sure coming back next year!!  Well done ADIS. Time to enjoy the sun of Palo Alto as the rain and gloom of London lays ahead.


Dan Smaller

Dan is a veteran Emerging and Frontier Markets investor and banker. For 20 years, he worked on the trading and sell-side around the world, and the next 15 years, on the buy-side in Asia and the Middle East. After a two year around the world trip that started in 1975 at the age of 17 (yes, he’s that old!) which included living with the Ebon Tribes of Northern Borneo and the Pashto in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, he decided he would turn in his backpack for a briefcase. A mistake that would cost him 40 years of grief, but meant that he could continue investigating new markets around the Frontier market world. Dan built and led Emerging Market Equity Sales and Marketing teams for Citibank, Lehman, UBS and DB where he was first to introduce investors to markets from Pakistan to Peru and Croatia to Egypt. On the asset management side, he built Deutsche’s AM arm in the MENA and later was instrumental in establishing the MENA region’s first truly independent asset management firm – Algebra Capital.

He returned to London and joined Movement Capital to look after Partnerships. He has a degree from the School of International Service from American University in Washington DC and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He sits on the Board of Pakistan’s largest independent asset management firm as well as other boards in the media and FinTech spaces. Dan is currently a resident in London although many wonder why he ever left his roots in Palo Alto. Now living in Soho, he enjoys political comedy, tennis, good movies and scuba diving. He lives for skiing, as long as it involves powder, bumps, speed and air.

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