Thank you, Vedran and INTERA Technology Park for organizing this event. To the BiH diaspora members who are with us online, I want to extend a special warm welcome.
Despite the inability to travel and enjoy the beautiful Herzegovina landscape and food, your online presence is a clear indication of your strong commitment to developing your homeland, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I have had the pleasure of attending numerous events promoting diaspora investment. I have met some very impressive people who are determined to succeed and who are just as determined to share their capital, knowledge, and networks to grow the BiH economy and provide jobs for BiH citizens.
Why does the diaspora community matter so much to the future of the Herzegovina region of BiH? Almost two million people of BiH origin live and work abroad, and every year they send billions of convertible marks home to friends and family members. In 2019 alone, diaspora transfers totaled 4.3 billion KM. And yet, in the majority of cases, those remittances have not played a major developmental role beyond supporting household welfare.
With programs like USAID’s Diaspora Invest, the U.S. government aims to change that by supporting business investment in BiH. And we are making some progress on that front. So far, Diaspora Invest has partnered with 102 early-stage diaspora companies, and as a result, those companies have invested over US $15 million (25.6 million KM) in the country and created more than 350 jobs. We will also continue to support local and grassroots efforts such as CONNECTO.
I look forward to hearing about new opportunities for diaspora engagement in the Herzegovina region.
I wish you a productive and successful conference.