Tip for the African Diaspora during this 'Year of Return' – Start a business

BY KITNES - Jan 15, 2020 at 3:35am 100

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Ghanaian High Commissions, Consulates and Embassies have been busy.

It is reported that over 750,000 visas have been issued so far. The excitement is high and rising, with many notable names having already passed through. I personally experienced the disquiet at the Ghana High Commission in London and I thought that was wild, until Alan mentioned what happens nowadays at the Ghanaian Consulate in New York. They’re here, and more are coming!

Accra is going to be packed. With such excitement comes opportunity that can work for you as a member of the African Diaspora, or work against you if you’re not alert. This is an opinion piece. Here is one thing to consider during Ghana’s YEAR OF RETURN 2019:

Consider starting a business.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge, nothing too complex. One of the hardest parts of starting a business is getting people to know you exist. As part of the diaspora, what better time to start a business than a time when you can play the “President Nana Addo personally asked me to do this” card. It IS the Year Of Return. I am confident you will find a long queue of state and private agencies just eager to help you get started. Take advantage of the hype and get noticed. Ghana is after all known for her peace and responsive disposition to foreigners. To be part of the diaspora during this YEAR OF RETURN could be a great plus if you’re considering starting a business.

Don’t overthink a move for having roots back at home.

The thing about trying new things is, it’s never easy. Nobody is selling that you pack up your life and move to Ghana in a day. No. But having roots in Ghana can go a long way. The interest is clearly there. There’s a reason why within about a year of launching the YEAR OF RETURN, over 750k visas have been issued. Don’t overthink it. The quote below sums it up best, from someone who has actually done it, from Oxford UK to Accra Ghana. Bet on yourself!

“I will say ‘go for it’. But don’t get stuck to your desk running the numbers and envisaging all the possible and impossible scenarios. Too much analysis leads to paralysis. The best way to make it happen is simply to make a leap and make it happen. You’ll only be taking a bet on yourself.”
by Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia, Chairman of ENSafrica Ghana.

Reverse the brain drain, then capitalise on it.

The most common reason for why individuals move outside Africa is to improve their chances for a brighter future, for themselves and for family. As a developing country, there’s room for those that have the skills and expertise to push the nation forward. The Western countries have saturated markets and these do not truly offer many options to the African dreamer or entrepreneur to create and drive substantial lasting impact… not like back here at home. Many are those that have set up successful businesses here after school or work or life abroad.

You’ll have a reason to holiday right at home.

It’s pretty nice being in Ghana. I’m typing this in London right now. This afternoon, I couldn’t feel the left half of my face. No, it’s not the first time. Yes, it’s the cold and the worst winter period isn’t even here yet. The conditions outside Ghana drive the diaspora to yearn for the favourable tropical climate back home. What better reason to travel back home than having a business in a vacation destination that both funds the holiday, and connects you to your roots.

The elephant in the room.

That elephant is the Individual and Systemic Racism that many still face while living abroad. It gets refreshing to be at the place you come from, a place you feel you belong. This YEAR OF RETURN set of activities will prove vital in filling up the holes many have had in their hearts from being made to feel like their unwanted guests in a foreign land. The red carpet Ghana continues to roll out does not end after the celebrations this festive season. You should look into all that the nation has done to ensure smooth sailing should you ever want to move back or work in Ghana or with Ghanaians.

Dipping even one foot into the possibility of starting a business in Ghana has its own challenges. The system in Ghana is admittedly slightly different. It will take some adjusting to, just as a move from UK to Germany, or US to France would. Ghana is ripe. All you need is the will, a ton of research and preparation, and an open mind.

From My Thinking Spot

While one part of this article urges you to start a business in Ghana, I can’t help but wonder all the reasons why people don’t do it, or won’t do it. Bad reviews? Unfortunate experiences? These don’t help. Of course a move like this is far complex than I put it here.

But there are ways we can ensure a reduced probability for unwanted experiences during these YEAR OF RETURN celebrations. For with any set of events like these, there are predictable, easily avoidable risks, regardless of location. It’s not peculiar to Ghana. It’s a matter of common personal safety practices, with a sprinkle of common sense for good measure.

For instance, it’s only prudent to attempt big steps in stages. You want to sample the fluidity of a business transaction? Maybe try with a small order at the first try. You want to move to Ghana? Maybe start with a couple short stays before moving fully. This start-small approach is particularly important when you’re considering entrepreneurial activities in Ghana.

Also, manage your expectations. Accra is still far from New York or Paris. Understand where you come from. It is a beautiful place to be. That’s a fact. Managing your expectations means you have to drop the “if I was in California” or “this is how they do it in Amsterdam”. Do not compromise on your standards and beliefs. I’m not asking you to. I’m asking that you be open and flexible to new ways of defining love for a destination that might not have the little conveniences that the Western World might afford you, yet.

Do not be stranded – be financially prepared. This is one of those things that need to go without saying, but I will say it nonetheless. Accra is not a village where barter or farming is the order of the day. Living in Africa can get expensive compared to non-African cities. Accra can match the quality of life in many destinations across the globe so be sure to not squander all your cash in the excitement. This is another reason to start an entrepreneurial venture while you’re here.

See? It came full circle!

Featured Today

I pictured it. I pictured receiving an appointment letter from Barclays Bank in August 1981, my very first appointment letter. Then I pictured starting the very first Monday of that same month and going to work for that one institution day in day out, week in week out, every month for about 38 and a half years. That’s a long time to be committed to a cause. It speaks a lot about the individual just as much as it does about the company.

That’s the story of Mrs Gloria Coleman of Barclays Bank Ghana (now Absa Bank), my beloved mother-in-law. Tomorrow will be her last day at work after a career spanning over 38 years at Barclays Bank. Today, we wish to honour her.

Mum, from all your children, we say congratulations on your well-deserved retirement!

We get excited whenever we hear you speak of what lies ahead of you because you are so happy and it shows. And that’s exactly what we all wish for you, a happy life full of joy and excitement.

It’s going to be hard imagining you not working at Barclays, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The first time I met you a decade ago, it was at Barclays Bank. I am so happy for you on your retirement just as all your children are. We are super proud of you!

We continue to keep praying God lights the path before you and that He grants you long life and all your heart’s desires. We appreciate your constant reminder of God’s grand plan in our lives and we acknowledge how much of a blessing you are wherever you go.

Tomorrow, know that we will be cheering for you, excited to see you start another page of your life as you conclude this one on a very glorious note.

The main course of your life has been amazing. Now finish it off with a classic dessert.

We wish you a happy retirement, and we love you very much!

Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider.

He is the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh).

He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.

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