JLL recently launched its East African Hub in Nairobi, Kenya marking the 5th JLL-owned and operated Hub on the continent. Exciting news for a Kenyan living in Sydney, Australia who always had her heart set on Africa.
Having lived abroad for 6 years, I was unsure of what to expect, however I decided to pack up my little apartment in Sydney and take the very long trip back home. Australia certainly is quite far, so I had plenty of time to think about this next step of my career on the 24-hour journey to Nairobi.
Various questions ran through my mind: How different would it be working in Africa? What new challenges will be faced in my new role? Am I prepared to take this on?
Living in the Diaspora, it is easy to get used to the way of life abroad including security, efficient public transport system and even the weather. I had spent countless hours reading various blogs talking about moving back to the continent from ‘Bella Naija’ to ‘Back to Africa Movement’ in a bid to understand what to expect when taking such a big step!
Many of my colleagues, friends and family asked me why I would leave a “comfortable” life in Sydney to take on this new challenge in “AFRICA”! Their questions were followed by various horror stories they had heard about the continent which I tried my best to deflect. This reminded me of renowned writer, Chimamanda’s Ngozi Adiche’s TEDx talk about the danger of a “single story” where “the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.”
Fast forward to today, day 1 of my new role in Nairobi. As I sit in our lovely, modern office in Delta Towers, Westlands, I find that it is not so different from my previous work place in Sydney. In fact, apart from the view of the beautiful Nairobi skyline, the continuous sound of matatu’s whizzing by on the highway and the welcoming smiles of my new team, everything else is quite similar. Let’s call it a new normal. It’s great to see companies expanding into Africa and being able to conduct their business like they would abroad in contemporary offices, up-to-date technology and with a highly-skilled workforce.
From my recent experience, I wonder how many Africans in the Diaspora are holding themselves back from making the leap and returning to the ‘mother land’. Doing business in Africa is definitely the way forward, whether moving back as an entrepreneur or as an employee, it’s worth taking the chance.
Remember: High Risk = High Reward!