“I will move back to Ghana one day,” is what I occasionally tell friends and coworkers every time we engage in a conversations about the motherland. Since my first visit in 2007(after living abroad for 17 years), there has since been a burning desire to return home. A desire that burned even more after learning of ample opportunities. Although, I was never too sure when “someday” would come, I knew it was just a matter of time. Luckily, it came sooner than anyone, including myself, could have anticipated.
It was the second quarter of 2012 when I made the decision to return home; a decision, which took very little time to consider because my mind had been made up long ago. After eight years as a human resource professional, working for the largest private owned condominiums in the United States, and ten years as an expert marketer, it was definitely time for a change, and I was ready, ready to take my experience elsewhere and home just seemed like the perfect plan.
Before relocating I was told to visit for a couple of months and do some research. And that holiday season, I did exactly that. Once in Accra, I stayed with family and made some observations in the areas I wanted to pursue. With no time to waste, I launched my company; ‘Keeping "U" Simply Intact Consulting’, and began working immediately. Needless to say, my mind was made up and there was no turning back. I had officially waved goodbye to corporate America and was eagerly saying hello to corporate Africa, unsure of what the future would bring.
In 2012, I founded Keeping "U" Simply Intact Consulting (KUSI Consulting), a U.S. and Ghana based contracting firm specializing in Marketing, PR, Training, and Recruiting services. Although, the company is still at the start-up phase, part of our mission is to provide digital and new media marketing services to businesses. In addition, KUSI Consulting provides recruitment needs for our clientele and staff development trainings.
The experience so far has been challenging, but quite rewarding. Challenging because female entrepreneurs must work harder to gain recognition and respect, compared to our male counterparts. Also challenging because as the “returnee” one must learn the ways of the land and “pay your dues” so to speak. It’s like a baby learning how to walk, but in my case I have had some guidance in finding my feet and taking the necessary steps.
In a recent conversation with a group of businessmen from East Legon (a bustling suburb in the close outskirts of Accra), I was told in order to be successful in Ghana I would have to lose everything. “It’s just how the system works here,” they continued. Imagine hearing this after having once lost it all. My only thought was that there was no way I was going to lose everything again, “nope ain’t gonna happen,” were my exact words. After all, not everyone who has relocated could have possibly experienced this same ordeal in order to gain better grasp of the system. I am hopeful and confident that with the right network of people and adhering to the plan I have laid out, success will be inevitable. As a businesswoman, there are certain philosophies and principles I believe must be adopted and practically implemented to if success is the ‘ultimate goal’. First and foremost, define what success means for you; and with this in mind having a positive attitude, being disciplined, working smart and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are key ingredients. Moreover, it is essential that we learn from past mistakes, overcome fears, never take “no” for an answer and never lose sight of the ultimate goal. Finding great mentors and people who will invest in your potential is also imperative. Forming strategic business partnerships are key to increasing influence and legitimacy in the business community. These are all principles I’ve adopted and they are rules to live by.
You often hear people talking about returning home. The fact is, it’s easier said than done. Due to a myriad of circumstances, some of us are prevented from following these dreams through. I am very fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity and to have the support system that I am blessed with. Without it, I would have never had the chance to make my ultimate dream a reality. It’s still the beginning and plenty lie ahead, but I know I’m on the right path.
As someone who has relocated several times domestically in the United States, my advice to anyone looking to relocate anywhere in pursuit of establishing a business is to put in all the time and effort researching the environment before jumping in ‘feet first’. Identify all the pros and cons of your move. Conduct a thorough market analysis to ascertain the need for the services you intend to provide. Go with your ideas and expertise, but be open to learning how things operate in your new environment. And most importantly be patient and believe in yourself.
By Rita Kusi