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We Made History With the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund!

10 mins read

By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam

July 25, 2019 — Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) FIRST ROUND OF CALLS FOR PROPOSALS.

RFP 2We are proud to announce EDTF will issue its first round of calls for proposals on July 25, 2019.

All parties interested in submitting proposals to undertake projects are encouraged to do so by following the guidelines provided.

Complete documentation on proposal submissions and EDTF contacts are available by clicking HERE.

Thanks to…

First, I would like to thank the nearly 25 thousand donors who contributed $1 a day to help us collect over $4.6  million in less than 10 months.

Second, I would like to thank our volunteers who served as the backbone of EDTF since its beginning. Our EDTF volunteers gave their time, money and resources freely because they believe in the EDTF cause.

Third, I would like to thank the members of our global chapters now numbering 39. Our chapter members are the driving engines of our local engagement campaigns.

Fourth, I would like to thank the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) for their generous support in establishing our EDTF Secretariat. We deeply appreciate UNDP’s confidence in our objectives and capacity to deliver on our promises.

Fifth, I would like to thank the members of the EDTF Advisory Council. It is a privilege and an honor to work with so many professionals who made significant financial and technical contributions and dedicated their Sundays to EDTF for a better part of a year.

Last but not least, I would like to thank H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for delivering Ethiopia’s Call for Help to Diaspora Ethiopians. Good leaders share a vision and inspire others to help them turn their vision into reality.

How we made history…

One of EDTF’s informal mottoes is, “Making history together.”

Is that just a tagline or a true statement?

It is a true statement supported by evidence:

No diaspora group has ever attempted to raise $1 a day from its members to support critical projects in their home countries.

On August 9, 2018, when the EDTF Advisory Council was established, we had no prepared plan, template or blueprint on how to run a global trust fund.

But we ramped up and in less than 3 months working around the clock, we launched the EDTF website and began collecting donations.

The three months were full of challenges ranging from compliance with complex statutory and regulatory requirements to ensuring a robustly functioning website.

In less than 5 months, we had laid out and implemented the supporting infrastructure for EDTF with recruitment of volunteers and establishment of global chapters.

In less than 7 months we had established a secretariat in Ethiopia to begin preparatory work for project implementation.

In less than 8 months, we had set up a stellar Board of Directors for EDTF in Ethiopia and fully registered EDTF under the societies and charities law.

In less than 10 months, we collected over $4.6 million and are now announcing our first round of request for proposals.

EDTF uses 100 percent of collected donations for project. No donation is used for  administrative or other purposes.

EDTF is supported 100 percent by volunteers who feel honored and privileged to help their people.

EDTF is 100 percent independent from any and all government involvement in its decision making or operations.

EDTF is 100 percent committed to ensure all are treated without regard to ethnicity, religion, language, region, race, gender or any other insidious classification.

EDTF conducts its business with maximum transparency and accountability. EDTF prides itself in being an open book to its donors and anyone interested. All EDTF donors are listed on our website unless they request anonymity. We make weekly reports of donations received and, once projects are implemented, we will provide up to date financial reports.

Challenges along the way.. 

Whether EDTF has lived up to its promises depends on what it does with donors’ money.

With the announcement for request for proposals, donors and others can now take a clear look at EDTF’s plans and implementation strategies.

Since the inception of EDTF, some have questioned our ability to ensure the financial and management integrity of our operations. We have addressed those issue through verbal assurances. But now, all can review our policies and rigorous procedures posted on our website and appreciate the lengths we have gone to ensure  transparent and accountable operations.

I must candidly report that some misguided people have tried to take EDTF hostage, or at least make EDTF a whipping boy for political issues in Ethiopia.

Some people have called to cancel their monthly contributions because of  something that happened in Ethiopia or because someone in Ethiopia said something they do not like.

That has been puzzling to us because EDTF is not directly or indirectly involved in any political activities.

EDTF has members and volunteers come from the full spectrum of political orientation.

We do not have a political or other litmus test. All are free to express whatever views they have and we respect differences in views of our donors and supporters.

As long as people are interested in donating $1 a day for the defined projects, we ask no questions.

The best way to deal with a negative attitude is to produce positive results.

EDTF’s golden hour…

We at EDTF have always believed “EDTF is a gift we hope to pass to future generations.”

EDTF is not a 2, 5- or 10-year project. It will go on and on.

We collected $4.6 million in our first year. There are those who say we should have collected $46 million.

Talk is cheap.

Those who refuse to give $1 a day have no moral right to criticize those who have built up a $4.6 million fund.

But some people are hard wired for negativism.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, the 19th century British poet laureate said it best:

Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower,
The people said, a weed.

Once in a golden hour in August 2018, we cast a seed called EDTF

Up there came a flower in August 2019, but some people said it is a weed.

We are committed to following our positive vision and are now ready to back it up with positive action.

For those who think $1 is nothing and cannot make a difference, I would like for them to ponder this:

The vast majority of Ethiopians live on less than $1 a day.

Factory workers in Ethiopia make $26 a month!

A fresh university graduate in engineering makes $100 a month.

There is the power of 1. Power of $1.

Let’s us join up with EDTF in the second phase of our fundraising campaign.

In December 2018, I wrote the following:

In 5 years, the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund will be the template for a diaspora trust fund all over Africa. I suspect there will be some who will laugh at me today and say I am delusional.

But the fact is Nigerians, Ugandans and others are already coming to us and asking us for our template.

There will be speed bumps on our way to cultivating our EDTF  “golden seed” into a beautiful flower of hope and optimism. But the harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory.

In life, there are those who make history and those who read history. There are also those  upon whom history is made.


“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” Horace Mann</strong