In 2014, I decided to quit my job in France and relocated to Cameroon as the country manager of an e-commerce startup. I now work on new projects across Africa, and wanted to share the lessons I learned as a Woman moving back to Africa for work!
Lesson 8: Build your support system
An African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. I tend to define myself as a self-made woman. After all, I independently decided to change my life, applied to a competitive European Business School and rebuilt a career almost from scratch. But after watching this video from Arnold Schwarzenegger, I realized that there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. There is always someone. A friend, a family member, a colleague, a stranger, or an invisible force (God, the Universe, your guardian angel, your Ancestors, luck or whatever you chose to call it) could come to your rescue when you least expected it.
Moving back to Africa, you will deal with a fair share of frustrations, unparalleled crises, and uncertainty, so:
1. Keep your friends close.
Talking from experience, moving to a new country is NOT easy. I have relocated several times, and if it were not for those friends and family members that supported me via email, skype, phone calls, and now WhatsApp, I probably would have quit way before the battle started. As much as I tend to be annoyed by the constant buzzing from the notifications of massive WhatsApp group chats, I always enjoy small sized WhatsApp masterminds with like-minded friends of family members. Best alternative when you are away from your squad!
2. Know your (real) family.
If you are back in your home country, you will have to deal with the unnecessary attention, demands, judgments or sometimes questionable intentions from some family members. Depending on your character or your culture, you will choose to deal with it or not. But maybe you are lucky enough to also have your core circle of family members with whom you share a genuine and/or strong bond. Learn to make the difference between them and keep the latter group close to your heart, even if you don’t see each other frequently. There is nothing like (real) family.
3. Rely on your team.
It might not always be the case, but you may find at your new workplace an ally with whom you share similar work ethics or values. If you are even luckier, your team members might become like family members to you, and going to work will never feel like a dreadful burden again! However, as the new girl or guy from abroad in the office, I would suggest to be patient and take the necessary time to understand office dynamics and people real personality/intentions before opening your heart.
4. Become a “power couple”
If your purpose moving back to Africa is compatible with your significant other’s goal in life or values he or she could be of great support, whether you are in the same country or not. If not, well, refer to the second episode of this series. Once back, you may also meet a local sweetheart that would share your life and help you deal with the challenges of living in Africa, by providing explanations, connections or support when needed. You could also connect with a repat/expat with whom you will share the similar challenges and decide to figure out this life in Africa hand in hand and grow stronger from that experience. And if you are alone, Dear you always have God (the Universe, your guardian angel, your Ancestors, luck or whatever you chose to name it) with you.
5. Have faith
One of my favorite cousins used to say that immigrants are children of God because, just like orphans, they are taken away from their home and family and therefore need extra help from Above. I believe might also be the case for repatriates, especially if you don’t have a strong support system in the African country you are moving to. If you are a believer (in anything), keep your faith in check because my friend you will be tested in your personal and professional life, to the point to which you will seriously question your life and your decision to move back. In any case, stay true to your core self.
Oh, and by the way, on top of my Video show #DearCandace on Facebook, I now have a podcast where I answer questions you may have about your career, your projects, or moving back to Africa. I will keep answering questions in French and English, so if you have any questions about your career, your business or your next move, click here and send me a message, and you might be the next lucky person to see his or her question answered!
So what do you think? Have you relocated to Africa? Who is in your support system? ! And for daily doses of life and career inspiration follow me on my Facebook page (www.facebook/candacenkoth) and on Instagram (@candacenkoth). And as always, make sure to subscribe to my VIP list to receive updates that I only share via e-mail.
See you soon!