Tag Archives: Foreign Direct Investments

Business France, the new organization to turn France into a FDI Magnet

[Happy new year! cast your vote in our playful quizz #BusinessFrance logo design contest]

Today, in French business newspaper Les Echos, the name of the new organization headed by Muriel Pénicaud resulting from the merger of UbiFrance and AFII (InvestInFrance) was announced: Business France.

InvestInFrance capabilities had been almost frozen to two years, awaiting for the new organization to be finalized – while the country unemployment rate kept increasing to 10.5%. Inbound FDI to France decreased strongly in 2013, while major French companies kept outsourcing more and more services to low wage countries. In the old organization, InvestInFrance would measure new greenfield investments to France but not the impact of closing down existing investments, or the effect of major outsourcing deals.

One of the first tasks of the new entity will be to launch a communication campaign « Creative France » to promote the ideas of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.


France is among top European ecosystems for Startups

The new #CreativeFrance campaign will complement the current « FrenchTech » and « FrenchTouch » initiatives as well as the new country branding campaign .

Do you think France should have a unified Country Branding strategy? If so, RT:)

Further reading

About FDIMagnet,

FDIMagnet is NamSor™ offering for Investment Promotion. We use our unique data mining software to offer differentiated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) services:

–   Diaspora Direct Investments (DDI)

–   Smart Investors Targeting & CRM

–   FDI Targeted Communication

Follow @FDIMagnet, join the LinkedIn group or email us at contact@fdimagnet.com

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UNCTAD WIF14 – Investing in Sustainable Development

The fourth version of the World Investment Forum, organized by @UNCTAD, was held in Geneva with over 3,000 participants from 150 countries. The fourth version of this event gathered high-level decision makers from the public sector, academia, and investment promotion agencies, interested on how foreign direct investment can reach a sustainable path. The city of Lima, Peru, is already in preparations to host the fifth version, which will be held in 2016.

The forum had a considerable participation of investment promotion agencies, particularly from Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. With over 300 speakers, the agenda included 50 different sessions in which participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas on multiple topics.  Among those, it is important to highlight agricultural investment, regional integration, international investment agreements, and gender equality.

An important debate was held with world leaders as to how close funding gaps in infrastructure and climate change adaptation. Some of the speakers called the attention on the fact that the main issue is not on a lack of resources for infrastructure, but on “lack of adequately packaged or large enough projects”, as stated by UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi. Additionally, UN’s counselor to the Millennium Development Goals – MDGs, Mr. Jeffrey Sachs, stated that “long-term thinking and complex solutions” must be kept in mind when speaking about turnkey projects.

During the event UNCTAD launched the Investment Guides – iGuides, as a way for investors to have updated, comparable and centralized data on their target destinations.  Information such as business costs, key procedures and laws are included on the first iGuides that were launched (Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comoros, East African Community, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lao, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Zambia).

The way in which regions develop their investment strategy is largely influenced by endogenous and exogenous actors.  Civil society and public leadership are part of the internal ones, and Diasporas are part of the exogenous actors. Numerous countries still rely on a great extent on their Diaspora for investment, not only in remittances but also as a FDI source.  This trend is followed by both emerging and developed countries, crisis-stricken Europe included: Ireland, Spain, among others.  This process is commonly referred to as Diaspora Direct Investments, and has become a new source for seeking capital. Around 215 million people live away from their home country and, if well managed, can help national and regional investment promotion agencies identify and influence the decision of potential investors. This policy has been successfully implemented by several countries. Ireland for example targets both both diaspora-owned business and companies employing influential fellows of the diaspora, acting as connectors.

A special session was held on the role transnational corporations can play in women empowerment and gender equality, moderated by Maria Cattaui-Livanos, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce with participation of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, @UNWomen. Elian Carsenat of @FDIMagnet shared with Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka the latest Gender Gap Grader infographics on startups and access to financing.

Gender Gap Grader for WIF

Open data initiatives such as Gender Gap Grader can play a role to empower women, trigger changes. Even if closing the gender gap in investment will take time, women could have a more decisive role in attracting FDI and VC/Angels money to foster innovation ecosystems in places where it is most needed. What it takes is combining the activation of Women’s Networks with Diaspora Direct Investment: reaching out to influential women in the Diaspora to attract investments, expertise and help make connections.
About Karina Azar,


In her five years career, Karina developed strong expertise on Foreign Direct Investment as Promotion Manager and Advisor to companies considering relocation in Colombia.  On 2013 she was ranked on Neashore Americas Power 50 as one of the most influential executives in the outsourcing field.  She is currently researching on Sustainable Development with the Sorbonne University in Paris and independant consultant on FDI matters.  Karina can be reached at karinaazarb@gmail.com or via LinkedIn.


About FDIMagnet,

FDIMagnet is NamSor™ offering for Investment Promotion. We use our unique data mining software to offer differentiated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) services:

–   Diaspora Direct Investments (DDI)

–   Smart Investors Targeting & CRM

–   FDI Targeted Communication

Follow @FDIMagnet or email us at contact@fdimagnet.com

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Data mining the global start-ups and venture capital ecosystem

AngelList is a platform for startups—started by the dudes who do Venture Hacks.’ It lists over 650k profiles of entrepreneurs, start-up professionals, VCs and business angels – globally. We’re preparing an analysis of the gender gap in the global startup ecosystem and access to financing, which will be disclosed just before the Women’s Forum which takes place soon in Deauville, France. AngelList, as source, has a strong bias towards the United-States. However it’s interesting to look at which places, which markets attract most interest from global investors. In the chart below, we only show the first destination for a given country (this is either the country name, or a main city). 2014_FDIMagnet_Top_AngelList_InvestPlaces Many places have a vibrant start-up ecosystem and don’t show up in this board. Many countries still need to reach out to their Diaspora in the United-States and Europe to build a well financed start-up ecosystem, to create global networks of experts.

Further reading

About NamSor

NamSor™ Applied Onomastics is a European vendor of Name Recognition Software (NamSor sorts names). NamSor mission is to help understand international flows of money, ideas and people. NamSor launched @FDIMagnet,  a consulting offering to help Investment Promotion Agencies and High-Tech Clusters leverage a Diaspora to connect with business and scientific communities abroad. NamSor is committed to promote diversity and equal opportunity. We support the @GenderGapGrader initiative.

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Revealing the Irish, French, Indonesian digital diasporas

An Irish Times @GenerationEmigration reblog

NamSor technology has mapped the location of Irish-owned Twitter accounts around the world.
To access the interactive map, click here: http://cdb.io/1h8kTDG


Elian Carsenat and Michel Fortin

Before Christmas, we came to Ireland to present NamSor, a piece of name recognition software which uncovered the Irish ‘digital diaspora’ for the first time. This interactive world map of the Irish, French and Indonesian e-Diasporas was produced using Twitter account data.

Twitter is an interesting data source because about 3 per cent of Twitter accounts opt-in to show their Tweet location (using GPS from a smartphone) and can be visualised on a map. We were interested to visualise the Irish digital diaspora, not just in the US and the UK, but globally. Our assumption was that the Irish themselves are familiar with the history and sociology of the Irish diaspora in the US and the UK (and such organisations like IDA Ireland and Tourism Ireland have been successful in leveraging those), but what about Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia? It is interesting to see how large and dispersed the Irish diaspora is in the US, and how small and concentrated it is in populous Indonesia.


The scientific jargon for this special data mining is applied onomastics. We’ve worked with many different databases before, using onomastics for a specific purpose. For example, to help the Lithuanian Investment Promotion Agency understand the sociology of its diaspora and attract foreign direct investments (FDI), we’ve data mined Factiva C&E, a large database of company directors worldwide. We’ve also analysed PubMed, a scientific database used by doctors and biotechnology researchers, to recognise where international talent flows in that competitive field.

We spent a lot of time in Dublin with Kingsley Aikins, chief executive of Diaspora Matters, who is well known internationally in the diaspora field and has worked with many other countries as well as Ireland.

He believes the product could be a real game changer in the diaspora field and could help answer the perennial question all countries ask about their diasporas – who are they, where are they and what are they doing. He believes that we now live in a networked age and the key to success of diaspora engagement is in building global networks. Namsor will help find these people and enable new diaspora networks to be developed.

He also referred to the emerging global war for talent and how diasporas are going to be critically important sources of talent. Countries who know and keep in touch with their diasporas will have a competitive advantage. This will apply not only to those wishing to return to their home country but also to those wishing to be involved and help with DDI (Diaspora Direct Investment). Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia have already introduced initiatives in these areas.

We were impressed with the success of the Gathering, bringing several hundred thousand people to Ireland. This is an innovative initiative and must have strengthened the bonds between the Irish diaspora and Ireland.

There may not be such thing as a ‘French diaspora’, but we see more and more French people going abroad, especially the young and talented seeking an international experience. We’ve seen a lot of them in Dublin! Our impression is that the French abroad don’t really know or help each other as effectively as in other cultures, such as the Irish. French diplomats, large companies, entrepreneurs established abroad, exporting SMEs, professors and students all seem to live in separate worlds. France could learn a lot from what Ireland is doing.

NamSor Applied Onomastics is a European vendor of name recognition software (NamSor sorts names), which aims to help understand international flows of money, ideas and people. namsor.com

Diaspora Matters is a consultancy company based in Dublin advising governments, companies, organisations and individuals on how to develop strategies and programmes to connect with their Diasporas. diasporamatters.com

This article was inspired by and original article published in onomastics.co.uk

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NamSor and @FDIMagnet wish you a Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year!

About : self organized FDI related Twitter names ; dataviz done using GEPHI.

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Onomastics for Business Data Mining

This is a reblog of ParisTech Review original article.

Can name data mining help economic development?

As of today, the main business application of onomastics is naming, or branding: finding the proper name for your company or your product to stand out in the world. Meaningfully, Onoma – the Greek root for name – is also a registered trademark of Nomen, the naming agency founded by Marcel Botton in 1981. Nomen initially licensed one of Roland Moreno’s inventions, the Radoteur name generator, and created many distinctive and global brand names such as: Vinci, Clio or Amundi. But once your business has a name, should you forget about onomastics? Not anymore. Globalization, digitalization and the Big Data open new fields to experiment disruptive applications in Sales & Marketing, Communication, HR and Risk Management. Though discriminating names carries a high risk of abuse, it can also drive new, unexpected ways for developing poor areas.

Our human brain interprets names every day, as we understand a language, as we know a particular culture or region of the world: the likely menu of a restaurant, the industrial sector of a company… even a dog’s name might tell you something about its owner. Personal names (first name, last name, a Twitter handle) carry meanings which vary according to one’s language and culture, but often form an essential part of one’s identity.

Extracting semantics from names

How exactly my brain works is not clear even to myself, but what if I could program a computer to extract semantics from names: would it provide valuable business intelligence? Some people in the US think so. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long standing experience in extracting intelligence from personal names: back in the 80s they used LAS name recognition software to help identify Russian spies, recognize false identities, track soviet influence. LAS could rely on the CIA to help collect a database with one billion names to calibrate the software. That’s about the total world developed population at the time.

After thriving on the surge in US security and foreign intelligence budgets post-9/11, LAS considered diversification and started to address other markets: Marketing, Financial Services Compliance (notably KYC, ie. Know Your Customer). LAS was acquired by IBM in 2006. But to further increase their leadership, in 2011 the US security agencies used the MITRE Corporation to help foster further “innovation in technologies of interest to the federal government. Challenge #1 entailed multicultural name matching—a technology that is a key component of identity matching, which involves measuring the similarity of database records referring to people. Uses include verifying eligibility for Social Security or medical benefits, identifying and reunifying families in disaster relief operations, vetting persons against a travel watch list, and merging or eliminating duplicate records in databases. Person name matching can also be used to improve the accuracy and speed of document searches, social network analysis, and other tasks in which the same person might be referred to by multiple versions or spellings of a name”. A name tells more – or something different – than just a nationality of origin. For example, Boston terrorists Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have names with a -v termination typical of Slavic names (as found in Russia or in Bulgaria) but can be recognized as originally from Caucasus. There was some media report in the aftermath of the bombing that the FBI didn’t know Boston bomber travelled to volatile Dagestan region in Russia in 2012 because “his name was misspelled on travel documents”. However this information remained unconfirmed and is probably not accurate given the massive US investment in name-matching technology.

In Europe, the legal framework to leverage such tools varies from country to country, but is generally very strict. The directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, article 8, states that “Member States shall prohibit the processing of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, […]” . In principle, this directive applies to Security Agencies as well, however there are exemptions which member states can interpret differently.

By making the distinction between the language ‘discriminatory ethnic profiling’ rather than the more common ‘ethnic profiling’ to describe the practice of basing law enforcement decisions solely or mainly on an individual’s race, ethnicity or religion the European Union recognizes the need of security forces to understand the complex relationships that exist between nationality, geography, and more subjective concepts such as: ethnic origins, cultural backgrounds, civilisations, religions. How the knowledge might be applied, how the data might be collected remains a matter of national security. The UK and France, for example, are known to have different views on this topic. In any case, what is done in practice by anti-terrorism agencies is not public information.

Security, border control, etc. is a business in its own right. What about other sectors?

Customer intelligence: business potential and ethical issues

In Sales & Marketing, onomastics can be used to enrich a customer database with information extracted from names that would not be practically or economically available otherwise. So retailers and luxury brands – especially in food, clothing and cosmetics where ethnicity plays a significant role – can improve customer intelligence and use those insights to better interact through online channels. Echoing concerns expressed by early 20th century John Wanamaker “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, companies like L’Oreal that spend several billion dollars a year on communication and advertising continuously try to improve the efficiency of their targeting.

Let us look at a more sophisticated example, for example public–private partnership (PPP) projects in mining, energy or infrastructure. Those projects can have significant social impacts in a territory and raise various political or economic issues. Understanding the human geography and recognizing the interests of the communities cohabiting in that territory can be critical to obtain a buy-in from all stakeholders. Onomastics, combined with geo-demographic segmentation, can help rapidly build geographic maps that can be used both for decision making and communication purposes. Automatic name clustering is the underlying technology that will help decrypt the complex identities present in large or small territories (from a continent, to a road). The objective is to answer tough questions and manage unavoidable frustrations though appropriate communication. Where should a tramway line pass in a multi-ethnic region? How to redistribute offshore oil revenues in the lands?

Concerning HR, I recently spoke with an executive at a large European bank who regretted that not enough trustworthy expatriates had been sent to control a large acquisition in a BRIC country, costing several hundred million Euros in write-offs. Among thousands of employees at the European head-office, the bank could have recognized the names of few people likely to accept an expatriation back to their home country. Having some people knowing both languages and both corporate cultures would have helped bridge the inter-cultural gap between the local management and other expatriates, saving millions of Euros.

In the digital world, onomastics brings a new view angle to social graph analysis: it can help colourize online communities, profile opinion leaders according to their audience. On Twitter, for example, you can more easily create a communication channels, well targeted on a particular community (business expatriates, tourists, migrants, but also international investors…)

Let’s now consider a provocative and controversial use of onomastics that will help us move on to the topic of ethics. Different cultures, nationalities and social backgrounds imply different behaviours, with respect to Money and Risk taking: earning, saving, spending, gambling, investing, donating, risking death and loosing it all… It is a fact that people with aristocratic names (in places where there is such an object as aristocratic names) would earn more and obtain cheaper credit than people with names typical of the lower class or a recent immigration wave. Why not take shortcuts: a bank could adjust the price of a credit, according to the borrower’s name; a car insurance company could adjust its evaluation of the risk (including the risks of insurance fraud, dangerous driving…) according to the name on the application form. They would better measure their risk. Furthermore, they could offer more competitive prices for categories of clients and they could better target them commercially.

Such use is highly controversial, since it raises the question of Equality (or inequalities) and discrimination. But discrimination is a fact, and onomastics can allow us to better see and understand how it works. Why should people with different sounding names hit glass ceilings in the first place, regardless of their skills? Casanova chose his own name de Seingalt and wondered if D’Alembert would have attained his high fame, his universal reputation, if he had been satisfied with his name of M. Le Rond, or Mr. Allround.

I am a supporter of Equal Opportunity Rights. And yet, I built a powerful discrimination algorithm based on names. NamSor is a piece of name recognition software which applies onomastics to analyse global flows of money, ideas and people. As any powerful new technology, it carries potential risks of abuse but I believe there is a positive use for it.

One classical application where onomastics plays a significant role is called geo-demographics: it consists in analysing the sociology of a particular territory (including the cultural and ethnic origins of its inhabitants) inferred from open sources and census data. Geo-demographics can be a useful tool to ensure, for example, that all populations have an equitable access to public services, such as hospitals. The company Experian is one of the leaders in that field, especially strong in the UK.

The effective use of the Big Data & Open Data is widely considered to be a critical enabler for future SmartCities : enabling dynamic allocation of resources, more efficient use of energy, prompt response to a crisis and so on. The combination of social networks and mobile applications with geo-localized devices opens new possibilities. Recognizing the diversity of populations that cohabit across space and time can help design more inclusive cities and transportation systems. Sensors that discriminate populations (in the sense of perceiving) can draw the clear picture needed to prevent discrimination (in the sense of favouring) and help defuse some of the time bombs ticking here and there.

Targeting diasporas: a game changer for development?

But the most promising use of software such as NamSor could be elsewhere – though it still deals with territorial equality. It is quite common for regions of the world that are less economically developed to use their own weakness (poorer people) as a strength (cheaper labour) to attract investments. The idea is to trigger a virtuous circle of job creation, infrastructure development, better education, migration flow reversal, etc. commonly known as the FDI Magnet effect. The region becomes more attractive and gradually moves up in the global value chain. As it loses competitiveness in terms of cheap labour because of the new wealth of its population, it develops a different economy based on innovation, services, tourism, consumption.

Most countries implement some kind of policy to direct flows of investments in poorer regions, as a mean to preserve their territorial cohesion and integrity. Those policies are most effective when they combine with successful private initiatives. So the objective of many Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) is not so much to attract big money, as to attract a great business that will employ and help grow their people. The global competition to attract such investments is fearful.

Poorer regions have another weakness, which can be turned into a strength. Emigration is generally an opportunity loss, but after some years it generates a Diaspora which can be leveraged to attract investments back to the region.

For example, Ireland took decisive steps during the early 80’s to proactively reconnect with its emigrants or with successful businessmen of Irish descent. Rebekah Berry reminds us that “as recently as 1986 Ireland was one of the poorest countries in the European Union, but [in 2002] it is one of the richest. The engine of this new Irish prosperity has been Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). [Between 1986 and 2002], the Irish have done almost everything right. They have attracted huge amounts of money from America – due largely to a century of personal and familial ties – and they have used this money to build factories ”.

The regions of Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai have amongst the lowest number of millionaires in China. But if they could reconnect with the few they have, in Beijing, Shanghai or even abroad, wouldn’t it make a difference?

For that purpose, onomastics can be a useful tool and it has served the development strategy of a European country, Lithuania.

InvestLithuania is the first Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) to use name recognition to originate FDI deals. With three million people living in Lithuania and nearly one million people of Lithuanian origin living abroad, there is a good many personal and familial ties to be leveraged to attract new investment projects to the country. NamSor name recognition software helped discover those ties. Another method to accelerate the origination of new investment leads is to better understand and leverage the existing network of foreign businessmen in the country itself. Domas Girtavicius, a Senior consultant at Invest Lithuania, said “we were impressed by the accuracy of the name recognition software: it reliably predicts the country of origin and the number of false positives is fully manageable”.

This project with InvestLithuania was very successful and consequently I was invited to participate to the World Lithuanian Economic Forum (WLEF), which took place in Vilnius this year, on the 3rd of June. This Forum is organized by Global Lithuanian Leaders (GLL), a non-profit association whose mission is to reconnect with Lithuanians and friends of Lithuania abroad. I found the GLL to be a great initiative, providing the country with a wealth of expertise from different parts of the word, across all domains (politics, education, culture, business…), and also bridging some of the cultural gaps that necessarily exist in such a matrix (place / domain). Specifically, the GLL helps bring elements of culture from the US and UK, such as entrepreneurship and business networking.

While some diasporas, especially those originating from the Mediterranean, have a millennium standing culture of business and personal networking, other countries struggle to adjust to their new situation. What is the value of a social network such as LinkedIn to the Lebanese Diaspora? Low. What better communication tool in Marseilles than “word of mouth” to launch Massilia Mundi, which aims to become the social network of that city international Diaspora? But for many Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), LinkedIn is an essential tool. For example, in traditional Lithuanian culture, people treasure strong family ties and personal links with close friends, but do not nurture a wide network of professional connections or casual contacts. I believe many countries are in a similar situation, where a dedicated organisation could help reconnect people : for them, tools such as the social networks, professional databases and onomastics can make a difference.

Could that work also for regions in China? In 2005-2009, while I was working for a global consulting firm, I had the opportunity of managing an project in banking, with a mix of Chinese and French teams: a team in Paris which included several young ParisTech graduates of Chinese origin and a team in Shanghai. I remember the excitement and the pleasure of the entire team – including myself – to do a project connected with China, with the opportunity of travelling to Shanghai, tasting the food of different regions of China, being introduced to the Chinese culture. Several people from that team, both French and Chinese, are now in China. Jing, now a dear friend, went back to Shanghai in 2009 and I remember how she still felt sentimentally bound to her original city of Xiangtan, Hunan – ready to help in any way she could. From this experience, I understood that if there existed such an organization as ‘Global Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai Leaders, it would not often encounter rebukes when reaching out for help, money or expertise. Such an organization could be very helpful in closing the economic gap with other regions.

Technically, Chinese names are clearly recognizable amongst other nationalities or origins. So, querying a professional database, we can produce onomastics mapping of Chinese company directors. For example, the following maps represents the density of Chinese and Japanese business communities in Southern Latin America, relatively to each other.


Source: Factiva DF Copyright 2013 NamSorts.com NomTriTM NamSorTM – All rights reserved

How many of those successful Chinese businessmen (or businessmen of Chinese origin) come from Ningxia, Gansu or Qinghai? This is where applied onomastics can be a game changer. Not that all questions are solved. At the present time, the available software allows us to detect phenomenons, not to understand them perfectly. For instance, I would like to share two data visualizations produced as part of this effort, which I found beautiful and promising.



What do we see here? Something – something that still needs to be analysed and understood, but something that may be of great value for someone trying to locate and identify potential investors or decision makers. Chinese last names actually raise specific challenges, since they have been used for many centuries and with rare or less common names disappearing over time, only one hundred different names remain today. But first names still carry regional differences, poetry and other semantics. Roots may be almost invisible, onomastics can still track them. And the more difficult is the tracking, the more valuable are the findings.

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Download documents : Onomastics for Business.pdf (English version) Onomastique et Big Data.pdf (French version) Mirrors: [Harvard.edu] [arXiv]

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IPA innovates to originate FDI deals using onomastics

NamSor™ announces FDI Magnet, a new offering for Investment Promotion Agencies.

NamSor™ name recognition software filters data from millions of meaningless elements to a few dozen actionable names. Domas Girtavicius, a Senior consultant at Invest Lithuania, said “we were impressed by the accuracy of the name recognition software: it reliably predicts the country of origin and the number of false positives is fully manageable”. Elian Carsenat, the founder of NamSor™, said “searching for names in the Big Data is like seeking a gold needle in a haystack: doable once the right tool exists”.

What is the Idea behind it: “ As recently as 1986 Ireland was one of the poorest countries in the European Union (EU), but today it is one of the richest. The engine of this new Irish prosperity has been Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). [Between 1986 and 2002], the Irish have done almost everything right. They have attracted huge amounts of money from America – due largely to a century of personal and familial ties – and they have used this money to build factories[i] ”.

A successful approach which Milda Darguzaite, the Managing Director of Invest Lithuania, considers relevant for her own country. With three million people living in Lithuania and nearly one million people of Lithuanian origin living abroad, there is a good many personal and familial ties to be leveraged to attract new investment projects to the country. NamSor name recognition software helped discover those ties.

Recognizing names and their origin in global professional databases allows Investment Promotion Agencies to identify potentially interesting high profile contacts in different countries / industrial sectors and reach out to them. Another method to accelerate the origination of new leads is to better understand and leverage the existing network of foreign businessmen in the country itself.

May 2013

About NamSor
NamSor™ Applied Onomastics[ii] is a European vendor of Name Recognition Software. It also offers consulting services to help Investment Promotion Agencies and countries reconnect with their business communities abroad.

[i] U.S. Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland: Making the Most of Other People’s Money, Rebekah Berry (2002)

[ii] Onomastics (or onomatology) is the science of proper names. NamSor and NomTri are registered trademarks.

PDF version : 201305 InvestLithuania.pdf

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FDI Magnet, welcoming the first investment wave

So far we presented onomastics as a technique that could help monitor cross-border investments, especially as originating from or directed towards (re-) emerging countries : Chinese FDI, Russian FDI, Japanese FDI, Indian FDI, FDI in Africa, etc. As we prepare to launch by the end of the month a consulting offer dedicated to Investment Promotion Agencies, we share an interesting academic theory about the concept of FDI Magnet.

On the Magnet Effect of Foreign Direct Investment

by Pao-Li Chang and Chia-Hui Lu

No 21-2006, Working Papers from Singapore Management University, School of Economics

Abstract: We extend Antras and Helpman (2004) on firm heterogeneity and organizational choice to a dynamic setting with FDI uncertainty, in which the probability of investment failure decreases with the host country’s infrastructure level and increases with the technological complexity facing each firm. Moreover, it decreases over time as the accumulated mass of firms succeeding in FDI increases. We show that a minimum level of infrastructure is required to trigger a first wave of industrial migration. We then formalize the often noted “magnet effect” of FDI-the first wave of industrial migration generates positive externality (information spillover) for subsequent investors, which stimulates a second wave of industrial migration. The process continues until the power of the “magnet” reaches its steady-state level. In contrast with the predictions in Antras and Helpman (2004), we show that firms with intermediate productivity levels are the ones migrate first, while the most productive and the least productive firms tend to stay behind. This non-monotonic relationship between firms’ productivity and their FDI propensities is consistent with the patterns of Taiwanese firms undertaking FDI in China.

Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series

Link to the original document

According to the authors, the first wave of inwards FDIs makes it easier to attract further investments. How can IPAs create the initial momentum? Soon we will demonstrate that onomastics can also proactively help originate new cross-border investments deals.

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Monitoring western investments in Africa [2/2] : a mapping of French vs. English director names

Note to the reader : this article was written on the 6th of January for the March 2013 Feature of the Month, that is before the French military intervention in Mali (Opération Serval).

With this map of French and English business communities in Africa, we complete an earlier post about that immense continent.

Our method of anthroponomical classification can be summarized as follow: if a company director were to become an Olympic athlete (after a bit of training of course), judging from his name only and the publicly available list of all ~150k Olympic athletes since 1896, would he most likely run for France or for Great-Britain ?

Françafrique versus Commonwealth in Africa (2013)

The illustration should be straightforward to read. In the map above and left, areas in blue have the highest proportion of directors with a French name (FR). In the map above and right, areas in red have the highest proportion of directors with an English name (EN). The synthetic map below shows areas almost exclusively French, almost exclusively English and also some areas where French and English business communities are likely to compete (FR vs EN).

What does this map tell us? It visually confirms what the historian Fernand Braudel, in his book a Grammar of Civilizations, called the “linguistic joke played on Black Africa by the colonisation: instead of gaining one international common language, it got two”. It also tells us that this divide remains actual, affecting the way European and American companies do business in Africa now and in the foreseeable future.

Can onomastics be useful to monitor western Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Africa? I believe so. As explained in an earlier post, European companies -for example- demonstrate little diversity at the top: Greek companies have Greek directors, etc. Large foreign subsidiaries will have expats on the Board of Directors, nominated by the head office, most likely of the same nationality. There are limitations to this approach, of course: the accuracy of name classification itself (normally within a 75%-95% range). Also, investments from the USA, still the world leading economic power and a melting pot, are difficult to distinguish from other sources of investments using onomastics only. But it would probably work well to monitor -for example- Japanese, Russian or Chinese investments in Africa.

London-based fDi Markets (of the Financial Times) is the leading database on cross border investments. Focused on developing countries, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provides is own statistics. UNCTAD data was used to build the heat map China Foreign Direct Investment in Africa (2005) illustrating Sherpa’s 2011 post “China in Africa: South Africa Joins BRICs Summit“.  If I could put my hands on a revised version of this map, I would be curious to compare it with an onomastics view and that would make a great material for a later post.

[read this thread in French]

[added on 1st of March 2013 – great maps of European FDI in Africa, by the NationalPost of Canada, January 2013 : Out of Africa – Did the Colonial Powers ever Really Leave?]

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Indian, Chinese, Russian and Japanese directors in European Big Business – an onomastics view [2/2]

Today, with this map of Japanese and Russian business communities in Europe, we complete an earlier post about Indian and Chinese presence in European economic affairs (*).

Japanese and Russian Business Comunities in EU plus Switzerland (vF)

The map would look different if we filtered information according to certain sectors (industry, trade, energy,…) but as it is, what does the picture tell us?

Besides showing the obvious and the well-known (a strong Russian business community in Russia’s traditional zone of influence, for example in the Baltic’s Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia ; a predominance of Russian businessmen in Cyprus international “offshore” financial holdings), it reveals several less expected features.

Firstly, one would expect Germany to be a stronghold of Russian business in Europe, due to the high level of trade between Russia and Germany. It may be so, but while there are many company directors with Russian names, there are even more Chinese, Indian and Japanese businessmen  in Germany.

Secondly, there is a clear Japanese preference in favour of Belgium and the Netherlands for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and as an entry door for trade with Europe.

Thirdly, while Indian and Chinese directors share a similar profile to select European target countries for FDIs and trading, Russian and Japanese businessmen demonstrate more polarization: they generally make different choices.

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(* We show the density of Japanese and Russian company directors expressed relatively to the total density of Japanese, Russian, Indian and Chinese presence, measured using the onomastics of about half a million company directors of the largest companies of all sectors, in the European Union plus Switzerland. Accuracy of name classification software is typically in the range 75%-95%)


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