Africa is the future. The real question is, whose future does it benefit? What does Beyond the Return look like now? Before moving to Ghana, I did a lot of research to try to understand the country and see where I could fit. Even though that helped to encourage me to take the first step, it did not compare to what I needed to learn on the ground. In this video, I discuss what has worked for me in finding and creating my niche in Ghana and Africa.
As I discussed in the video, nothing compares to learning from experience. Being patient, adaptable, and open to learning will take you much further, if you are looking to find and create your niche in Ghana and Africa.
Networking does play a role in your success. Instead of insisting there is only one way to do this, I encourage you to explore what works for your industry and your personality. Some people need to be in everyone’s face. Others prefer to keep their circle of contacts small and close. I have found that a mixture of in person socializing and online outreach allows me to have a diverse network of people to learn from, collaborate with, support, and work with. This lends itself to the work culture in Ghana. You do not need to limit people to one transaction or interaction. The person you purchase furniture from can also introduce you to a business opportunity, help you with your garden, invite you to meet their family, or find that particular gadget that is not available in stores. The person you met at an event can also collaborate with you on a project, introduce you to the manager of a bank, teach you how to cook traditional dishes, or introduce you to their tailor. It all depends on how you value and maneuver your interactions.
Even though these connections feel more wholesome compared to the isolating transactions I experienced in Houston, or America in general, I am still learning how these interactions evolve to create your closer circle of friends. This might be influenced by the societal notion that everyone should know their place. Some people, in spite of interacting with each other for an extended period of time, may never feel comfortable enough to invite me into their home. As an American, this is not unusual because we all have friends who don’t know where we live. From my understanding, Ghanaians do invite their real friends home and introduce them to their families. I have also learned that people in Accra are different from people based or born and raised in other parts of Ghana. This might be similar to other big cities, but the sense that not everyone is truly as they seem or say is not foreign in Accra. I am very grateful that I have met and continue to connect to the people who are wholesome, supportive, authentic, and interesting.
Regarding the established network groups I mentioned in the video, I feel they are a great start to get a sense of who is around, what people are talking about, and what you can connect to. Ahaspora is a group for young professionals. I have also used their job listing to find opportunities. AAAG, the African American Association of Ghana, is the group that introduced me to the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Accra. Ghana Must Read Book Club is a lovely group of book nerds. I really enjoyed the meet up I attended to discuss Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi. This year, each month is dedicated to a different region of the world. There are many more groups for a variety of interests through out Ghana. These are the ones I have participated in thus far.
When it comes to figuring out if your industry exists in Ghana, or another country in Africa, it is important to remember that it may look different than what you are used to. Even though most of the data you need will come from word of mouth, there are startups developing ways to gather that data for all industries. Survey54 is a platform focused on emerging markets in Africa and its diaspora. I met the founder, Stephen Eyeson, in Ghana during the December holiday season. Him and his team are doing an impressive job developing their product. This article in African Business Magazine discusses the industries that are buzzing due to need to shift the economy into a digital landscape. Like I mentioned in the video, mobile financing, online education, and tele health are on their list. There is also a luxury market in Africa that continues to expand and grow. Another article from African Business Magazine discusses this in more detail. The speed of development, debt, and demand creates an interesting environment in Ghana and Africa. The mixture provides a blank canvas for you to choose how you further your business, make an impact, and gain in every aspect of your life.
So far, this is what has encouraged me to continue my journey. Are you looking to move or work in Ghana or another country in Africa? Are you already based in the royal continent and looking to expand or pivot? What do you find helpful? Let me know in the comments. Let’s continue the conversation.
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