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Diaspora Trust Fund releases initial grants

Diaspora Trust Fund releases initial grants

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) has announced the release of funds collected from voluntary contributions of Ethiopians living abroad, and started to be deposited to beneficiary local NGO accounts, starting this week.

According to Zafu Eyesuswork Zafu, Board Chairperson of the EDTF, out of the USD five million collected, the Board has earmarked the release of five million birr, one fourth of the expected amount to be granted to projects. “EDTF is proud to announce the release of funds to the first set of five outstanding projects, previously approved by the EDTF Board of Directors,” said the statement sent to The Reporter.

The five projects which have been considered for final approval after meeting rigorous technical requirements, out of a total of 21 eligible submissions, have now received the first round of the grant money. The Advisory Council of the Friends of EDTF, another leadership structure of the Fund gave the green light for the release of 5.876 million birr. According to EDTF, this money has been wired and beneficiary organizations have begun receiving the grants as of Tuesday.  

Help for Persons with Disabilities-Organization (HPD-O), Hiwot Integrated Development Organization (HIDO), Pro Development network (PDN), Gurmuu Development Association (Gurmuu) and Korah Great Hope Charity Organization (KGHCO) are the five organizations slated to receive the first round of the funding.

In an attempt to respond to calls made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) while on his tour to the US, the diaspora community took on the initiative to contribute “one dollar a day.” Based on that, a council was formed and Zafu Eyesuswork was designated as board chairperson, to lead the Ethiopian chapter of EDTF; while Friends of EDTF chaired by Alemayehu Gebre Mariam (Professor), a.k.a Al Mariam, is in charge of the finding from abroad.

Few months ago, the fund donated more than USD one million to the national COVID-19 task force to go towards the national effort to combat the pandemic. However, disputes have emerged soon after contributions reached USD six million collected from 26,000 volunteers. Many who have contributed began to request for refunds. Almost a year later, EDTF has managed, at least, to release a tiny portion of the funds and claims it will continue to channel more funds. 

The crack within the EDTF board and the management, allegations of mismanagement and growing conflict of interests have all but subdued the fundraising activities and Zafu at one point, submitted a resignation letter. But, then changed his mind and opted to stay on for some time.