Diaspora Watch: Five Things To Consider Before Moving to Africa to Start a Business

A common theme in the media today is the Africa Rising narrative. From news of burgeoning economies to a growing middle class and hard-to-miss investment opportunities, the media loves this story of a booming, blooming Africa. That’s why it comes as no surprise that some young Africans in the diaspora are flocking back to the continent to build a life and be part of her growth.

For the young African in the diaspora thinking of moving back to the motherland, some questions that come to mind before making this potentially life altering decision are: “What will I do when I move back? Will I get a job or start a business? And if I want to start a business, what do I need to make it successful?”

If you are considering moving back home to start your own business, you might have already consulted with experienced people or even done hands on market research. Regardless of the approach that you’ve taken, getting access to reliable and representative information on business in Africa can be difficult, even when you’re on the ground.

With this post, our goal is to mitigate the uncertainty around the decision to start a businesses as a “returnee”, by giving you a starting point to begin your research, including the types of questions to ask. We believe the top five factors to consider are:

  1. Uniqueness and Relevance of Your Business Idea
    What’s your business idea? Is it something you saw abroad and thought would be good to replicate at home? Think again. Because of how unique our society is, the businesses we establish also require uniqueness and innovation. The first step is to have a customer-centric approach to thinking about your business. Who do you think your target customer is? How do they solve their problems now? How can you make that solution even better?

  1. Ease of Doing Business
    If you intend to start a business in the hope that it grows into a reputable brand, something you might be thinking about is how to make it legal. To do this, you need to know what the regulatory environment is like and if it is conducive for business operations. Some things you need to know include: how to register a business, how to secure property and how to access credit.

    Knowing these things beforehand makes it easier to prepare and implement plans when you arrive. The good news is that organizations like  the World Bank publish annual  reports that can provide insight into  what it takes to to operate in your chosen country. Check where your country ranks in this 2016 Fact Sheet on doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Cost of Doing Business
Depending on how long you have been out of your home country for, you have possibly forgotten or never experienced some of the circumstances peculiar to some African countries — like dumsor in Ghana or fuel scarcity in Nigeria that often goes on for weeks. It helps to know what the infrastructure and utility situation in your given location is to help you effectively budget what your costs will be. After all, no-one is in business to make a loss.

Some things you want to look into include: the cost of having steady power supply (buying and running a generator is a huge cost), the cost of getting good quality internet, and transportation costs..

4. Access to Resources
Whether you are starting a product or service based business, it is essential to identify your key resources and potential suppliers. For example, if you intend to start a restaurant, you need to factor in where to source produce, how it will  be transported and how it should be preserved. You also need to find out if there are skilled chefs, waiters and managers you can trust.

5. Learning from Other Entrepreneurs
Coming back home, one of your top priorities should be networking with potential partners, customers, and entrepreneurs who have been on the ground longer than you. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if someone else has already laid the groundwork. Read the news and ask around for people who have been in similar situations to you, look out for events where you might cross paths (and then attend), or see what connections you have in common and ask for an introduction.

Moving back home and starting your own business is a potentially rewarding experience, despite the fact that it is often accompanied by  challenges. However, there are others who have done it successfully; look at the likes of Ndidi Nwuneli, Fred Swaniker and Bosun Tijani to see what determination, passion and the right solution to a relevant problem can do for you.

Need help getting started? Contact us for a consultation. Our goal is to empower businesses like yours by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive high business performance. Here’s what some of our clients have to say.

Visit us on the web: www.startsmartgh.com Send us an email: info@startsmartgh.com

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