The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) a leader in global payment services, the Western Union Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM), an initiative which encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African diaspora entrepreneurs with ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

ADM II is launching with a small business workshop tour kicking off November 30 in Atlanta, followed by stops in Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, before ending in Washington, DC on December 16.

The second phase of ADM will incorporate key lessons from the first African Diaspora Marketplace, targeting grants toward high priority, high-impact sectors in Africa, including agribusiness, renewable energy, and information and communication technology (ICT).

To expand upon previous successes, Western Union and USAID are inviting small business investment funds and technical assistance mentors to participate in the effort to engage diaspora entrepreneurs. Coinciding with the launch, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-funded foundation that promotes the competitiveness of the African private sector, is joining the ADM II partnership. In 2010, the African Diaspora Marketplace awarded more than a dozen matching grants of $100,000 each to winning business entries in seven countries.

“Our support for innovative diaspora entrepreneurs is an investment in the long-term economic health of Africa, and part of our enduring community commitment,” said Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union. “Through this collaboration, Western Union and USAID are helping to tap the economic potential of the 1.4 million Africans living in the U.S., bringing more direct investment to the continent. The African Diaspora Marketplace will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally produced products and services by leveraging diaspora capital and resources.”

“Small and medium enterprises provide the majority of employment opportunities globally,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “By working with Western Union to launch ADM-II, we are strengthening the ability of entrepreneurs to fuel broad-based economic development, build local capacity and expand the reach of key services.”

George Washington University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) will provide research expertise and also evaluate the initial phase of business proposals.

Proposals, to be submitted by February 3, 2012, will be implemented in the following participating countries including Angola, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The number of grants awarded will be determined based on grant pool and program need, and is likely to be in the range of 15 to 30 businesses. The matching grant size is expected to be up to US $50,000, with an additional supplement of US $25,000-$50,000 in technical assistance.

Last year’s ADM grantees have been at the forefront of innovative business enterprises, including the first mobile anticounterfeiting service for pharmaceutical drugs in Nigeria, the first launched GPS tracking system to prevent product loss in Ethiopia, and a high-speed ferry system powered by locally-produced sunflower oil in East Africa which is connecting local economies in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Western Union is committed to positive social impact through reliable products, responsible operations and innovative community programs such as the African Diaspora Marketplace.

Information about the ADM and past winners, and the schedule for the small business workshops in the seven cities, can be found at: www.diasporamarketplace.org