March 15, 2016
Going to Africa: 3 Steps to Transition Your Business and Successfully Penetrate the Market
It’s no secret: Africa is a continent that is being touted by experts, residents, and media alike as a more-than-emerging, enterprise gold mine.
Though the challenges of infrastructure, corruption, and terrorism are still present, taking on lucrative ventures is not such a far-fetched idea, especially for black entrepreneurs and professionals.
Political leaders, celebrities, and businessmen have embraced relations with African countries, returned to live there, and even supported legislation and initiatives to support African Americans to “return.” In Ghana alone, there are more than 3,000 African AmericansÂ who have resettled, and as corporations invest in infrastructure, education, and talent acquisition efforts for a global and diverse workforce, the chance to work there is becoming more and more abundant.
Claudine Moore, an award-winning public relations professional and founder of C. Moore Media, is one American whose love for the continent was strengthened after a 2009 visit to South Africa.
“I completely fell in love. I thought that since I’d started my own firm, I’d merge my passion for Africa with my business, and I began to focus more on getting clients based on the continent while continuing my work with U.S. clients as well.”
Moore’s client list has grown to include Arik AirlinesÂ and multi-millionaire philanthropy and business powerhouse, Tony Elumelu. She now has several bases for her company, including New York, London, and Lagos, Nigeria.
Below, she shares three tips for taking your business or professional pursuits to Africa:
Experience the country and culture first before making a full transition.Â Stay for at least a six-month period to know how things are there before you take the leap, Moore says. “Immerse yourself. To stay for two weeks at a time, it will seem like an extended vacation, but once you’re living in a country and see it from a day-to-day, long-term perspective, you really get a true sense of what it’s like going to and from the office, the costs, how to schedule meetings, any infrastructure issues, and just daily life.”
Be aware of all your options financially when transitioning for an opportunity.Â “I was fortunate because I was headhunted, so the compensation package was negotiated accordingly,” Moore says. As a business owner, you’ll have to budget commuting expenses, exchange rates, relocation fees and whether it’s worth your while to fully relocate or to simply travel back and forth, Moore adds. “To relocate to some African countries, like Nigeria or Kenya, Â can be expensive. For example, in Nigeria, you traditionally have to pay a whole year or two up front for an apartment.”
Have solid goals, a passion for doing business in the country, and the stamina to see them through. “It’s not for the fainthearted. I enjoy it but it takes a certain amount of resilience to stay the course,” Moore says. “You have to have passion for what you’re there for. Some of the things you deal with on a daily basis can really wear you down, even if it’s as simple as sitting in traffic for hours trying to get to a meeting. You’ll need to find outlets so that you can lead a balanced life.”
“I’ve found a great gym, a salon, and a church, and my friends and I get together to support one another,” she adds. “I love it.”