Africa is Calling: Four Professional British Women Return to Their Roots

How these leaders found career fulfillment in their homeland

Cathy Phiri (Photo: Phiri)

CATHY PHIRI: Need to Reconnect with Family Sparks Zambia Move

“I wanted to be with my family and coupled with the recession, I thought there were better opportunities in Africa,” Cathy Phiri explains.

Born in Lusaka, Phiri went on to spend her childhood in Sweden and Britain.  She returned to Zambia as a teenager before making the move back to the UK. In London, Phiri spent eight years pursuing a career as a social responsibility vice-president at MTV.

Phiri relocated to Lusaka in May 2011 and is the managing director of Media 365, the creative media agency she founded with her siblings. The company works with commercial and non-profit clients to enable social and developmental change.

Despite spending time in Zambia during her childhood, it took Phiri a while to adjust. “It’s a culture shock when you’ve lived away for so long,” Phiri says. “Africa is not for everyone.  It’s a hard and challenging continent, but a beautiful one nonetheless.”

Life in Lusaka has enabled Phiri to propel her company forward and improve her well-being.

On a professional level, being able to use what I learnt in the UK has been beneficial,” Phiri states. “Because Africa is an emerging market, there are so many opportunities. I also have a much more sustainable work-life balance.  I generally feel happier working in this environment.”

Octavia Goredema is founder of relocation resource Crash Course City and the Twenty Ten Club, an award-winning networking organization and online resource designed to connect, inspire and support black female entrepreneurs. Goredema is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an international network of accomplished individuals in the arts, manufactures and commerce patroned by the Queen Elizabeth II.

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  • Cay Moore

    Congratulations Octavia for securing this role with Black Enterprise. Very informative article.

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  • Catherine Gilhooly

    Really interesting article. I never really thought about people moving from the UK to get fresh opportunities in Africa. You hear so much about the Far East but Africa doesn’t get good press in terms of business and entrepreneurship. The stories of these women helps to challenge assumptions.

  • Greg

    Africa needs you!! The opportunities in Africa are boundless. We need more people finding which country their skills best fit. The more skilled diaspora who move home the more we can continue to develop. If anyone wants a good read of why this works look no further than Dambisa Moyo – Dead Aid. You don’t need to be from Africa either, I moved to Botswana having never visited before…

  • Reena D

    This article reminded me of the beauty of taking risks as a strong woman. These amazing entrepreneurs are courageous. It’s commendable they relocated to a land they are not as familiar with, but yet were open to build their roots and foundation to enhance the local economy. Thanks so much for sharing Octavia!

  • Evan P

    I love this article. It is really inspiring to me that these women are taking experiences and skills to a countries that could use help. They are taking risks by moving from their familiar and comfortable lives, but I think they’ll pay off by opening up these women to new opportunities and experiences. Great article.

  • Juliet Jackman

    Well done Octavia, really interesting and inspiring article. I didn’t want the article to end.

  • Yvonne Ndege

    Great piece by Octavia Goredema. But I believe the moves these women made were not just based on emotion, or sentiment. The cost of living is far less in Africa than it is in Europe or the US. The quality of life is also much higher. And Africa’s economies are some of the fastest growing in the world.

  • Arianna O’Dell

    Great piece. I look forward to reading more by Octavia!

  • RuthY

    Wow…this is a very inspiring article. It’s great to see young African’s going back to help build Africa.

  • Aimee B.

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written collection of inspiring stories!

  • janice means

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written story,it was inspriring with good imformation,thanks for sharing.

  • Ronke Ige

    Great article, I look forward to reading many more from Octavia. Well done to all the ladies who relocated too… couldn’t have been easy having lived in the UK for most of your lives, very admirable. I wish each of you all the best! x

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