Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On to the Next One:

As many of you know, I just came back from a trip from the States. It was fabulous. I enjoyed it, I learned a lot, got to be part of a magnificent wedding and really understood that I am blessed to have such great family and friends. Because I know not everyone is able. :)

Most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to analyze and decide what my next steps were. As you see, I really don't write much on here anymore and that is because my experience is really not the same as it was two years ago when I started this blog.

Two years ago, I was an adventurous American who moved to Ghana and now, well, I am Ghanaian. This means that I accept my country both the good and the bad, but it also means my experiences are different. I have adapted to the culture and customs, I have learned to speak the basics in the local language and now I am not really in the beginning stages of starting a business.

Since I have been here I have successfully launched Constant Contact a cell phone rental company for tourists. I also have linked up with a business partner state side to do Classic Afrikan, which is introducing patchwork clutches in the United States and if all goes well, I will soon be opening up a vintage store in Accra.

Now, I am by no means rich, but it means my struggles are different and my message is different. That is why I am moving to I invite you to join along as I journey to success and I hope to hear from you as well.

Oh and most importantly don't forget to share the new blog with a friend or three!

Until Next Time

Monday, October 22, 2012

Accountablity Trip

Next week, for the first time in a year and a half, I go home to the United States. Now as excited as I am, I am also slightly nervous. Because going home is not really just about visiting, but it is also about accounting for the time spent in your new home. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that anyone is expecting me to say I have built two houses or have a fleet of cars, but I definitely have to give an overview of business and upcoming plans. After all, I don't want anyone to think the African jungle has eaten me up- because it definitely hasn't.

Over the past year and a half, in my book, I have managed to build a decent life. I have been able to land enough freelance gigs to keep me going and, over all, I have managed to successfully build a social network worth having. However, I must admit, that I have failed miserably at establishing one solid thing.

Now the reasons for this are numerous. First, I will admit, I do have a tendency to be distracted by money. After all, a girl has to eat. And the worst thing any foreigner can do is go broke in Africa; it would be the greatest modern day tragedy seen by mankind, especially if you have no African roots.

I have also noticed that I am slightly ADD in my business affairs. I blame this on the number of ideas I generate per day. And although, I do remind myself that there is time for them all. I can't help but want to test the waters of everything at once, which leads to a "Greedy Dog" type situation. For those familiar with this Aesop tale, we all know how it ends- the dog gets neither bone.

It's funny, because I have always known about these weaknesses, but here in the African terrain where my safety net isn't nearly as secure, these weaknesses have become extremely noticeable. So well,in the end, what does one do?

Suffer, if you ask me. It has been said that in order to be successful you have to be able to risk more than you can afford to lose. I think that is particularly true in Africa where high gains can be seen in shorter periods of time than in traditional Western markets, but only after you taken the time to understand how exactly that money is being made. Because of course, as any business person in Africa will tell you, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

So, when starting a business in Africa, unlike the Western world, its almost impossible to run multiple ventures at once and expect either one of them to flourish. In fact, I think it may be a universal law that you must suffer for success. If not, you will always be surviving, but not living.

Fortunately for us all though, when you know better you do better. So don't worry, I am sure, next year, I will knock it out of the ballpark. Now, you just have to ask yourself, what are some of the weaknesses you have that are holding your business ventures back?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Conscience of a Capitalist

I am a capitalist. I have been my entire life. And although some people would have you believe that making money is a sin, I believe that having money keeps you from sinning. So therefore, I personally strive to be as profitable as possible in any business venture I chose.  So what does this mean for my ventures in
Africa? It means that I pay local prices and wages for everything and everyone.

Now, occasionally, I catch flack from my friends about this. "Oh, how could you pay them that way?" they exclaim, or "Why would you argue over a few cedis and its so insignificant to you versus them.", they state horrified. I simply reply, "It's business."

You see, I agree that is horrible that wages are desperately low in Ghana. I also agree that I really don't have to negotiate a dealer to their bottom price. But would I be considered a business person if I didn't do these things?  I think not. Historically, if you look at the richest people in most societies they have made their legacy wealth during the industrial revolution- its why I came to Africa. You may also notice, that during the industrial revolution things were not as fair as they could have been and workers were never paid as well as they should have been. But that, my friend, is capitalism- the world we have chosen for ourselves.

So my business in Africa, is not to give people allowances not already afforded by society. Instead, I am here to create a legacy wealth that will hopefully have a greater impact on society than giving a man an extra cedi. After all, why should I give a man one cedi to waste when I can spend it properly and create opportunity for all of us?

Now some of you will cry out for social enterprise in Africa, and I agree. That is why I applaud those businesses that are here not to make money, but to benefit society. But once again, let me reiterate, I am a capitalist. I also encourage those who feel I am taking advantage of Africa to look at the injustices in your own country. After all, when is the last time you rallied for fair wages for the migrant farmer or illegal house help? Think about how many times you have refused to give money, food and shelter to the homeless and hungry in your own society. And never forget, you still have the working poor where you live too. In fact, are you the working poor?

So if you decide to embark on a capitalism venture in Africa, remember, it is just that. Also remember, it is easier to pull a man up once you have climbed the mountain yourself.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It Takes Two

For most of my life I have never been a team player. Perhaps its because I never participated in sports. It may also be attributed to the fact that everything I have ever been good at, in life, has never required a partner. Oratory contests just required a succinct memory and a pleasant speaking voice. I have never needed a study partner, since I seemed naturally inclined to do well in class. And, well, even as a child, when I was on Scholastic team, I singlehandedly carried the team. Might sound cocky, but its true- I even won the award that year for answering the most questions in District 150. So teamwork, has never been a natural thing for me.

However, since moving to Africa and starting a business. I now understand the importance of having a partner. You see in Africa, since funding is almost nonexistent and the terrain is ever changing partners/mentors are really an essential component to success;without them it is almost impossible to succeed. Now don't get me wrong there are plenty of people doing well by themselves- they also happen to come from a strong family support system- aka they are wealthy. But for those of us with limited resources and time, if you don't have a partner you may find yourself churning the wheels without moving forward.

In Africa, the more hands on deck you have the better. The more brains you have that can anticipate/understand the needs of your consumer, the better. And the more people who can contribute financially to the success of the business, the better.

Does this mean that you can't make it in business by yourself? Absolutely not. But don't underestimate the time and energy you will be required to make your business a success. And as a person, on ground, I am telling you, it can easily burn one out within a short period of time. Choosing a partner will not only help you save your energy so you can focus on additional projects, but they will also at times be your saving grace. After all you can't be in every place at once, and since meeting face to face is essential most times to do business in Africa the extra body will always be needed.

It has been said no man is an island and this is especially true, if you want to do business in Africa.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Free Falling- Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make

I believe in taking chances. I think everyone, at some point in their life, should throw caution to the wind and see where it takes them. I also believe that in order to take these chances you have to be somewhat calculated. After all, you would never see a sea captain just sail without the proper instruments. Therefore, you should never just take a leap of faith without having some idea of what lies below- especially if you are an entrepreneur.

There are many great things about being an entrepreneur. You are not only free to be able to do what you want to, but it gives you the ability to succeed in a way that many may think is impossible. But the downfall of an entrepreneur is that you are responsible for yourself financially. This means that too many mistakes and you may easily find yourself sleeping on someone's couch or a cold piece of cardboard.

The number one mistake young entrepreneurs make is not creating a good financial plan when deciding to go solo. Instead of them making a proper assesment of their finances and then understanding the restrictions and boundaries of their newfound career they just decide to jump in the deep end- whether they can swim or not. Inevitably, some will drown.

So how do you stay alive?

First, make sure you can really support yourself as being an entrepreneur. Just because you have a good idea or service it doesn't mean that you will make money the first day. In fact, you probably won't there are a million of great ideas; execution is the thing that decides whether it is profitable or not. And often times, proper execution takes money. That is why you should never quit your day job until your business starts to show growth. Yes, I know you consider your job a mundane waste of your talents and yes, we all know you are smarter than your boss- but your confidence doesn't pay the bills. Therefore, before you quit your day job you should be 100% that you will be able to make it on your own. If you do decide to take the big jump at least make sure you have a money parachute-which brings me to the next point.

Just because you have a parachute doesn't mean that you won't eventually hit the ground so while you are gliding on your entrepreneurial high, don't forget eventually you may eventually run out of money. If you are smart it will be a soft landing with a few bumps if any at all. If you are not, prepare for a few bruised egos and broken self-confidence. Many young entrepreneurs have a tendency to overspend. It is not surprising they are caught up in the moment, they really beleive in their idea and therefore, they put all of their heart, effort and money into the business. However, as we all know, the things we love can sometimes be the biggest disappointment. As a result, you must make a proper assesment of your finances and stay within the guidelines set. So yes, you will miss a lot of parties, nights out and fabulous vacations- but hey success comes with sacrifice.

The last mistake many young entrepreneurs make is only doing one thing. I applaud those entrepreneurs who have found their niche and only do one thing. However, it probably took them years to get to that point. Now, I am not suggesting, that you spread your energies thin and just take any random opportunity that comes your way. But there is nothing wrong with using your talents in ways complimentary to your ultimate goal. So yes, you want to be the next Bill Gates, but I am sure he was also helping people solve software issues, while he was creating his own software. Never tell yourself that you can only do one job. Being an entrepreneur is about finding creative ways to utilize your talents-who knows you may even find something that is a better fit for you.

If a young entrepreneur can remember these three points, it won't guarantee sucess, but it will definitely get you further than ignoring them would

Until Next Time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Never Gonna Survive

I have never been a fan of Seal. Therefore, when he redid Crazy, I hated it. In fact, if it wasn't for Alanis Morisette, I probably would have never truly been able to appreciate the song, but fortunate enough for me I did. Now I am sure most of you are familiar with the tune and are already humming the lyrics, "You're neveeer gonnaaa surviiiive unless, you get a little crazy" And if you can't quite place the song, I need you to go to I-tunes right now and make it the soundtrack of your life.

The fact of the matter is that its true. You will never survive if you dont get a little crazy. In fact, most successful people have done something crazy in their lifetime and that is why they are successful. So when you decide to become an entrepreneur you really have to be willing to become a little crazy, if you want to survive.

Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they are trendsetters, they are quirky people who believe that there is a better way to market or provide a product or service and they do just that; regardless of the odd looks and sarcastic comments they receive from friends and family.

I remember when I first came to Ghana people thought I was crazy. But now, since I have successfully started a business and assimilated to life, the idea of relocating outside of the country for opportunity doesn't seem as crazy. In fact, I would go so far to say I have started a trend. Since relocating here, I have known 6 others to find success in business while living outside of the United States. Every other day, I am meeting some young person who has seen the opportunity in living abroad and has taken it on with full force. And yes, I can say we are all a little crazy. But the important thing is, is that we have survived.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Personal Politics

When I first moved to Ghana a year ago, every Ghanaian I met was happy. Yes, everyone. But as the 2012 election moves closer, I am starting to see an uglier side of Ghanaians known as politics.

Now as we all know, I worked for Congress at one time, so I understand the necessary evil of it all. But what I don't think I will ever get is why people are so personal with it. Over a period of time, I have noticed that people don't understand that politics is never more important than people. During an election year, people will demonnize anyone who they believe has opposing political views, regardless of an invidual's character during non-election years.

I find this intersting because I have noticed most people are seasonal politicos, meaning they never want to participate until they think it is a major election or event. Now I applaud the fact that they participate at all, but after a while, I must be honest, I want to lean over and tell them to "Shut-up"; of course, in a polite way.

I also feel the need to point out to seasonal politicos, that you are not an expert on legislation or the political process if you have never read the bill/law, never participated in party conferences or assisted your party in achieving any of its goals, you are instead a loud-mouth jerk.

The bottom line is this, no country is in its current state becuase of one leader, it is a series of leaders and decisions that have gotten your country this far. Therefore, it is never the fault of one party. Am I the only one in the world who believes you are only as strong as your weakest link? If not, then I am sure once you examine your party you will be sure to find some points of vulnerability and, well, if you can't admit your party has just as many issues as the next then please do us all a favor and quietly vote without causing commotion.

In fact, I strongly suggest people start using the same strategy as politicians, vote for the individual or measure that will make you most prosperous and not the party. If we can adopt this strategy, we may be able to actually change the way the world works.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What You REALLY Need to Do When You Lose Your Job

This morning, I ran across the Loop21 article, "What You Need To Do When You Lose Your Job". Now with a title like this, I am expecting some great survival guide, but instead I found lackluster advice such as, spend time networking with professionals versus going to the club or bar and immediately update your public profile and resume. I don't want to sound like a cynic, but who the hell doesn't know that?!?! So since I have successfully turned unemployment into my biggest opportunity I think I should give you some real advice on what to do when you lose your job.

1. Don't wait to be laid off before you start looking. Most people have wind of layoffs before they happen. The moment you hear of cutbacks, assume you are on the list, unless you have an unstoppable monoply of information concerning the company, and even then there are no guarantees. That cute little intern you have been working with for the past six months, was just offered your job at a 1/4 of the salary. Getting a jump over all of your other unemployed colleagues may be the one thing that saves your life and your bank account.

2. Cutback non-neccisities immediately. This is the hardest one. Most people become unemployed and want to look at it as a mini-vacation versus a long-term circumstance. Great way of looking at it, but the reality is you have two weeks of savings,if that, which means Starbucks and the gym are unaffordable as of today. Hell, the only thing you really can afford is Ramen Noodles- in moderation. From the day you lose your job, start living like you have been unemployed for a year.  The internet should be the only luxury you can afford and you may have to eventually cut that, so savor it while you can.

3. Figure out your Retirement- Understanding how much you have in retirement and  how you can allocate that money for your benefit is crucial. Most people look at retirement as money set aside for just retirement. But to a newly unemployed person, it may be the one thing that helps you start a business or pay off your car so that you dont have a car note. What will you do for retirement you get old, you ask? Don't worry about it,  be assured that in 30 years when you want to withdraw the money, thaks to inflation, it will probably only be worth $5,000. So be wise and spend it today. Remember, in 1976 $36,000 meant you were in the upper echelon of society, where does it get today? That is right, the welfare line.

4. Look at moving outside of the country. You know I had to throw this in. Figured out you have at least $5,000-$10,000 in retirement funds you are cashing out? Why not look at moving abroad with that money and letting it last you 1-2 years versus 3 months. Also, if you have a degree, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are big in Asian countries and they are always hiring. Some of you may even want to consider Peace Corps.  Bathing from a bucket isnt my idea of a good life either, but for the adventurous types it may be the right thing to buy you a year or two.

In the end, there are various ways to turn your unemployment into success. But updating your profile and resume and going to networking events where the number of unemployed people is greater than the number of employed people will not get you the results you hoped for, guranteed. So take this practical advice and make a move before you get run over.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mid-Blog Crisis

I am not going to lie to you. Sometimes I have a hard time with this blog. It is not because I don't like to write, it's just that sometimes I don't know what to write. I am sure one thing most bloggers can relate to is finding exactly what your niche is. You can also relate to the advice given by all successful bloggers, know your target audience.

Yet until today, I was confused about knowing the target audience and finding a niche. For some reason I was thinking my target audience had one particular niche and its not true. What I have learned is that I should really be writing the things that I want to and not the things I think others want to read. Why, you may ask?

Because I am sure you are just like me; an individual who has varied taste and thirst or knowledge on various topics. So as a result, I can tell you I don't know what I am going to write, but it will be interesting and intriguing and trust me it will all come together to help you achieve your greatest destiny.

So please make sure you are checking back regularly and sharing the blog with others. I would hate or you to miss out on the lesson o a lifetime. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Leg Up

Yesterday, I found myself locked in a bathroom stall. Yes, locked. If I was in the States, I would have just crawled under the door, but unfortuantely most fancy bathrooms in Ghana have wood doors and don't leave the marginal space I need to squeeze my size 14 body underneath. So after yelling for about five minutes, I figured I was going to have to get myself out. So what did I do? I climbed on top of the toilet and hoisted myself over the wall and into the next stall and on to freedom.

Looking back at the incident I had to laugh becuase I found it similar to my experience as  an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are different people I have realized. We typically don't make the best employees but sometimes we find ourselves locked in that stall, waiting on someone to open the door. But instead, why not just crawl out yourself?

Yes, you will need amazing determiniation and tenacity, but, hell, if a 31 year old woman can lift herself over the bathroom wall, you can definitnely lift yourself to a new environment. This incident also speaks to the importance determination when starting a new venture.

Determination is one of the most important traits you will need as an entrepreneur, especially if you are going to try the African terrain. I mean, you can definitely wait patiently hoping for the right partner/opportunity or you can just take matters into your own hand and create the right opportunity that will provide you freedom. The choice is yours. The only thing I suggest, is do it while you still have the energy to throw your leg over the wall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You Failed, Or Did You?

Now, when many young people think about becoming an entrepreneur out of the country, especially Africa, they instantly picture themselves broke, homeless and hungry; huddled up at the steps of the nearest American embassy hoping to get a ticket back home. And although this may be a possibility, there are also a lot of great things that can happen to you even if you fail.

1. You gain international experience. How many times have you gone to apply for a plush overseas job and realized your chances of getting it were nil since you never lived out of the country?  Taking the bull by its horns and creating your own opportunity on-ground will not only show a future employer that you welcome challenges, but that you are also familiar with the terrain, and that my friend, in this global world is priceless.

2. You get an opportunity to revise your plan. If you start your own business in Africa and fail, at least you have an opportunity to go home and revamp your strategy. It may also give you an ideal time to find investors for your project. People like to give money to someone who knows what they are doing, and with a good business plan and your former experience of living abroad, people may acutally think you know what you are doing.

3. You get to wait out the recession. So, you come to Africa, start a  business and it goes under in two years or less.  If nothing else, maybe by the time you return the economy in the States would have bounced back. Yeah, I doubt it too, but if nothing else at least your jobs propects have improved. Refer to number one.

So in the end, yes, you may fail. Yes, if you didn't plan properly or chose the right investment you may have to go back home. But in the end you get another notch on your belt and what entrepereneur doesn't need that?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Black Wealth, White Wealth

When I was in my twenties, I admit, in my mind,I was a revolutionary. With dreadlocks falling at my shoulders, I was into all the things good revolutionaries were: poetry, 70's movies and good black literature. I also, of course, always looked for an opportunity to support a black business. So when I went into a popular black bookstore in the mall, I couldn't help but pick up a book entitled "Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality."

Now, that was quite some time ago, but the information I gained from that book has always stayed with me. It was the first time that I realized in order to have the success I envisioned,  I would have to seek greener pastures. Not only did the book discuss the economic policies and practices that isolated the black community from being able to capitalize in an era where America was seeing tremendous growth, but it also notated that with current inflation and other economic traps, such as mortgages and credit cards, blacks would never be financially equal to their white counterparts. Yeah, it was definitely heavy reading. But not only did I absorb it, I took it to heart.

Since moving to Ghana, I can say that I can see myself, for the first time, making steady financial gains, with new opportunities presenting themselves each day.  Living in a place where only cash is accepted and interest rates are high (16%-28%), I no longer have the option to live beyond my means. With my rent paid for the next year and a half, the only bills I have are a water bill and electric bill, which are minimal. I don't have a car note or even a cell phone bill, since cellphones are pre-pay. And, thanks to the bootleggers I can get all of my favorite American shows, so there is no reason for me to get cable. Even more fortunate for me, my cellphone rental company, only takes foreign currency so it increases my standard of living without increasing my debt.

In fact, now I understand the key to financial freedom. Now the only question I have is, "Will you be, won't you be, my neighbor?"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Scared Money, Don't Make Money

When I attended JSU one of my best friends, freshman year,  was Kenny. Kenny and I were inseparable, in fact, some people thought we were dating. Looking back, it is funny how we became so close. We were from opposite ends of the world. Kenny was from the Caliope projects in New Orleans, he had served three years in jail and was on probation. I, on the other hand, grew up in a middle class neighborhood and was on a full scholarship, but somehow we clicked.

On his right bicep, Kenny had a tattoo that read, "Scared Money, Don't Make Money". Now, of course, I was clueless to what this meant so one day I asked him.  "Cardie," he said in his thick New Orleans accent,  " if you ain't willing to get out there and take some chances, you ain't goin' make it."

Ten years later, I understand completely. With the economic downturn many people undoubtedly find themselves afraid. With the high unemployment rate in the black community, even among the most educated, I am sure many of my peers have endured sleepless nights, " Why me, God" moments and plenty of tears, and I can relate.

When I decided to move many people asked me if I was afraid. The answer was yes, I was. But I also knew that I had to take control of my life, in order to keep making progress. For me, that meant pursuing opportunity outside of the country. I didn't show up with a lot of money or even have a job. But I knew the money I had, would take me further in Ghana than it would in the States.

Making the decision to move out of the country is never an easy one. You will miss an opportunity sometimes to first-hand share in your friend's and family's greatest moments. Since I have moved to Africa I have missed my grandmother's funeral and the wedding of one of my dearest friends. Yet, I still know that it is all worth it.

So I encourage you today to look at life with a new perspective an international one that, yes, may be scary, but is absolutely necessary for some. Because it is definitely obvious that the only thing left of the American dream is crumbs.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Circle of Success

The most valuable lesson I learned while living in DC was the power of a good social network. A good social network will elevate your career, present ideal opportunities and most importantly get you paid. So when deciding to start a business in Africa, it is essential that you take the time to develop a network that can help ensure the success of your business.

In fact, I will even go as far and say that without a good on-ground network in Africa, undoubtedly, your business will fail. Several things account for this, 1) Africa is based on class and just like in the Western world, money travels in the same circle2) In most African countries business is still done face to face and 3) You are a stranger so you will need someone who can provide good consul and insight so that you don't go broke setting up your business.

So how do you build your social network. There are several ways.

1. Leverage Social Networking to Meet Like Minded Individuals. This comes with a disclaimer. You should not seek nor accept deals via online from individuals whom you have no direct connection with; it is a sure fire way to get scammed. However, making friends with people in the country you are interested in living will provide you with valuable on-ground information. It will also give you an chance to asses opportunties in various sectors and maybe even spark an idea for a new businesses. After all, part of creating a successful business is understanding what your target market needs and wants.

2. Talk to Your African Friends. I am sure if you think about it you know at least one African you went to school with, and I am sure you know at least three first-generation Africans (people born in the United States to African immigrants). These people are crucial to developing your social netowrk. Not only do most of them come from wealthy families, but most of them still have contacts on the ground that may compliment the business you are exploring. However, use discretion when sharing business ideas, lax IP laws make it hard to keep an original idea. Always just provide a brief overview with limited hard facts, unless you are confident that there is a colloborative effort.

3. Leverage African Institutions Existing in the States. Believe it or not there are many organizations in the United States that are helping private businesses enter the African market, such as Corporate Council of Africa, Business Council for International Undestanding and the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce. All of these organizations and others can help you find opportunities and viable partners. They can also start to put you in contact with people on ground.

4. Find Americans Already There. Most successful American immigrants who move abroad return to the United States regularly, and in fact, many of them engage in businesses in America and Africa. Figure out who they are and reach out to them. Before I came to Ghana I met Ambassador Erieka Bennett, who runs the AUDAF in Ghana. It was the catalyst for my business ( Not only did we work a deal to target students visiting Ghana, but she has introduced me to a whole new network, making my transition in Africa that much easier.

Of course, these four steps aren't the only way to build a network, but they will definitely put you in the right direction. Once you build your network don't forget to assess its value, becuase that is really what counts. If you are unsure how to do this,  Black Enterprise has offered some great advice for assessing the quality of your network. Now, you just have to put it into action.

Monday, June 11, 2012

30 Years and Still Strong

I often swear the only talent God gave me was good foresight. It has been my saving grace my entire life. Well, that and my uncanny ablility to say good-bye and never look back. After all, part of success is knowing when to let go. Another. much more important,  part of success is also knowing when to make a move. After all, timing is everything.

So when I read this article about the economic boom in Africa. I was once again assured I did the right thing a year ago. Just in case you don't have time to read, or just prefer clif notes ( I am not the one to judge) the gist of the article is that over the next five years African countries economies will make great leaps and bounds. it also states that Africa is experiencing its longest income boom- 30 years. I guess noone can call that a fad, huh?

With GDP rates expected to grow at an estimated 5% per year, it is that the only place to create real wealth is in Africa. Oh and let us not forget to mention that 7 out of the fastest growing 10 economies are in Africa...and guess who made the list. That's right, Ghana!

With gains like these, entrepreneurs would have to be blind not to see the opportunity that is really exisiting. What industry or company do you think you could create in Africa?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Disconnect in Diaspora

Earlier today I was having a conversation with a successful doctor in Ghana about recruiting African Americans to move back to Africa. He brought up the point that the focus should not be on those African Americans who are seeking jobs, but the ones who can create their own opportunities, and he is right.

When I moved to Africa, it was never my intention to work for someone. Having come a few months prior, I understood the vast economic opportunities that existed in this terrain. After all, here, you can start a business with an investment as low as $3,000. And we all know that it is almost impossible to do that anywhere else in the world.

Now although I wholeheartedly agreed with him, I felt the need to express the challenge of really uniting Africans with African- Americans was slightly more complicated. Not only do many African Americans not have passports, but they also don't have the credit scores needed to borrow money for many of the larger ventures that would be beneficial to the continent. And when you look at the fact that American media has made them to believe that Africa is some sort of open petting zoo, they are discouraged even more.

If you look at today's issues it definitely makes you think that NSM-64 was effectively implemented. However, it is time for African Americans to really start pooling their buying power and investing outside of their traditional investments. Not to mention advancements in technology and rules and regulations, have eliminated many of the risks of doing business in Africa.. So why not invest your money in a growing economy versus a stagnant one?

It makes me wonder, have people really truly considered the potential of Africa?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Love My Country, Maybe?

Since I was able to move about on my own, I have always chosen my cities of residence after one visit. Some people are more cautious, but for me when it feels right, it just feels right. After all, some might say this feeling is the key to successful relationsips, so why not apply it to life.

The first time I stepped off the plane in Ghana, I knew it was home. I had visited several cities before then as I weighed my options of moving out the country, but Ghana felt good to my soul.

It is only my love for Ghana that help me overlook the small things, like meddlesome people. Ghanaians are known for stating their opinion on a subject whether it has been asked for or not. But it is fortunate for them that I love the country so much I am willing to hold my tongue versus snapping out on them and telling them to mind their own business.

Loving the country also has made accepting the people easier. If you can't love the people you can't live there. After all, as an expatriate at times you will be at the mercy of the locals and if you can't communicate properly, undoubtedly you will be packing your bags and heading home.

Accepting the people is one thing, but you must then be able to accept the culture as well. Culture is the most important thing when relocating since they are the social norms that dictate how people interact. So for instance, if you have great legs and love your minskirts, Saudi Arabia isn't for you, even if the job is paying six figures. Just like if you mind high pollution and the smell of urine at every corner, Ghana isn't for you.

So, where are some of the places you think you could surive? Look at the list of country laws before you decide.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Moves

The number one reason people don't think of relocating out of the country is because of the assumed cost. People feel that in order to make such a big move you have to have 5 figures or more. And, well, this is not necessarily true. When I moved to Ghana I had around $5,000 USD. I know shocking, isn't it?

Now this didn't mean I didn't have other income coming in, it just means that is all the money I brought with me. One year later, I can tell you that is all that you need. With that money, I have been able to find a home and pay rent one  and a half years, in advance, at the cost of $4, 471 and start a business, In fact, my standard of living has not changed one bit, despite me no longer making over $70,000.

So how do you also set this pretty situation up for yourself it simple. First, look at cashing out all of your retirement. I know it sounds extreme, but the way economy keeps going the American dollar is bound to deflate and when it does it means that 40k retirement fund will really be worth around 10k. So why not take a small penalty, take the money out and doing something worth your while. Hopefully, you live in a country that allows you to do this. Yes, believe it or not Americans, not all citizens have the right to cash in their retirement funds- aren't you lucky?

The next thing is to secure an income that is in a dominating foreign currency (US dollars, pounds, Euros). Now this maybe trickier for some. However, if you have purchased property don't be afraid to rent it out, even if your profit margin is small. There are plenty of countries where an extra $300 will take you a long way. Others may even be able to collect unemployment living outside of the country, depending on your States rules and regulations. You can also try to set up a small business that specializes in a special product from your new country; e-commerce has made international selling easier than ever before, so take advantage.

Now all you have to do is sell your belongings, get a visa and buy a plane ticket. I know it sounds impossible, but it really isn't. The one downfall is that this plan only works if you are recently unemployed (6 months or less). Once you have been out of the market for a while and your debt has started to pile up, the move definitely becomes a little more complicated- but not impossible.

So start your plan today to make a better future for tomorrow.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Shrinking Job Market, Expand Strategy

Just in case you have been under a rock lately, there is a global job crises. That's right, global. Over the past few years, the number of viable employment opportunities for young people has shrunk considerably in developed nations. Unfortunate for the 30 something crowd, the shock of this recession is expected to be felt for at least a decade. In fact, some say, young people will never be able to make the same financial gain their former counterparts did.

But don't fret, you don't necessarily have to ride out the rough wave when you can move to a new beach all together. Right now, developing countries are what's hot. If you don't believe me just look at the global strategies many companies have adopted. So if companies are diversifying their marketing strategy and looking at greener pastures why aren't you too? If your favorite company isn't hiring in your home country why don't you see if they have any opportunities elsewhere. You may be surprised.

Now, here is my disclaimer.  I am not going to tell you that living in a developing country doesn't suck at times. After all, you will probably deal with poor water and power, along with poorly constructed roads and odd smells. You will also give up late night runs to your favorite fast food joint and have to build a new social network. But once you get past that, if you can properly match your skill set with the needs of the market you definitely have the opportunity to be successful. Of course there are no guarantees in life, but I would bet my last dollar that you will have a greater chance of success.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Things White People Do When They Come to Africa

 Although, some of the items on this list can be applied to all countries in Africa, certain things appear to be Ghana specific. If you are the type to be easily offended or get your panties in a bunch, please close the screen now. However, if you have an awesome sense of humor, please move to item number 1.

1.Take African Drum and/or Dance Lessons- That’s right the strong vibrations and excited steps of African drumming and dancing has attracted everyone, even the rhythm less. Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear the sound of an offbeat foreign drummer and observe their offbeat jerking and convulsing. But hey, the important thing is that both those watching and participating are having fun. Don’t expect them all to fail though; every now and then, someone with a ¼ blood will show up and show out.

2. Pay 10X More for Products: I am never amazed at how much white folks are willing to pay for the simplest trinkets. It’s like everything has extra value because they have purchased it straight from Africa. And God forbid it is a kid or an elderly person selling it, it becomes a must have item, at all costs. I always wonder what their expression is when they realize that the boy the next street over is selling the same item for half the price.

3. Have a Village Experience- For all intents and purposes; let’s just say the village is synonymous with the ghetto, and, for some reason, white people insist on having a village experience. They will go into the slums of a foreign city and indulge in all the forbidden fruits that lead to runny stomach and stolen merchandise, without worry. Yet I have a feeling that if they were back home and encountered a “village” situation they would they be locking their car doors and crossing the street to avoid contact, not sitting at a local pub buying everyone drinks.

 4.Date A Rasta- This behavior is really a result of Number 3. It is inevitable that on a village experienc a white person will discover some indigenous beauty and as a result, get some indigenous booty.  Unfortunately, all gainfully employed, well-educated and traveled African men need not apply. The white foreign woman is more interested in the man who sleeps on a floor mat and needs her financial support. But then again, I am sure she is not looking for anything permanent anyways…at least I hope not.

5.Get Their Hair Braided- No trip to Africa, or Caribbean nation, is complete until a white woman gets her hair braided. Nothing like seeing a 90 pound girl with 10 pounds of weave in her hair to remind you of the beauty of black hair.

6. Adopt Children- The new trendy accessory, an African baby is a must have for the progressive white family. No, all jokes aside, I actually think this is ok. As long as they can keep the baby’s hair greased and slap some lotion on that baby’s legs when its ashy, I have no objections. There are plenty of children in Africa that are seeking and deserve good homes.
7. Give Up Good Hygiene- I have noticed the longer a white person stays in Ghana, the less they care about their hygiene. Anyone who stays for over 90 days, and has not secured steady employment, will more than likely go down to having three outfits, showering every other day and washing their hair only in an extreme emergency. Hell, you might even catch them bathing at a public urinal.
8. Smell Their Food Before Eating- It never fails that if a local dish is placed in front of a white person they will shamelessly bend their back and smell the food; committing one of the most taboo acts in African society. And, God, forbid it’s a sandwich or meat, then they just put it right up to their nose.I guess someone should tell them you cant smell runny tummy until it comes out of the human body.

9. Get House Help- Wait, never mind most of them of had it before.

10. Fall in Love- It never fails that once a white person has come to Africa, they will fall in love with it. They will start non-profits, get friends to donate to a local village and even quit their jobs to become volunteers; all for the love of Africa. But hey, who can blame them? It is a great place.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pick a Pocket

Monday I fired my maid. I didn't fire her because she was lazy or because she was too sassy in the mouth; although she was both things. I fired her because she stole. I would tell you I feel bad, but I don't. If you really know me, you know I am a capitalist and I don't mess with money. Unfortunate for her, she never realized this about me.

In Ghana  many service class people think it is ok to steal. In their mind they have so much less than you have, and as a result, they sometimes feel they are entitled to a piece of your pie. So when the grocery bill went up slightly after he coming, I didn't say anything. After all, I cant spend my time worried about where the extra 2 cedis is, but when she blatantly took 8 cedis from the pockets of the laundry she was doing, the story line changed.

Now, of course, some of you will say how do you know she took the money. Because the boocakes and I purposefully put the money in the clothes to see if she would take it. We then baited her and told her she had to check all the pockets of the clothing because we were missing a receipt. Funny, the receipt came back, but the money never did. Although, she did mention she found one cedi. However, she took that to buy washing soap.....on her own volition.

So when the crocodile tears started to flow after I dismissed her, I was not the least bit moved. But I will admit I did apply the utilitarian principle, "Is the man who steals because he is hungry the same as the man who steals just to steals? " My answer has always been no. But when I looked at this situation she wasn't starving, in fact, she has been eating out every day for the past few weeks....probably on my dime. Since she has started working she has started wearing weave, the mark of a professional woman in Ghana, and I have noticed her wardrobe has expanded. Therefore, the only reason I could justify her taking the money was greed.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I have discovered one thing about myself; I don't really care about the utilitarian principle when I am the man being stolen from.

Until the Next Time. Smooches.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whiter Walls.

Well, as luck may have it, I am moving to a new house. Yes, I did just move into this one slightly over 90 days ago, but the owner found a buyer and the buyer wants to live in the house. I would say boo, but I secretly hate this house. The water issue, I had at first, put a bad taste in my mouth; not to mention the other hundred issues I have faced since living here.

So I was lucky enough to get a do over. The only unfortunate thing, like all things in Ghana, is that you always are expected to put a certain amount of work in. With this house, it was the walls. The owner failed to use water cement when building so moisture was trapped in the cement, making it impossible to have a decent paint job. So I decided to fix two of the walls in the greatest need and leave the others for another time. After all, I am still adjusting to the fact that someone expects me to add valuable work to their property...still lost on that one.

Fortunately for me, I actually know people in this neighborhood; one, of whom, is a mason. So he came over we discussed the work and set the price. The next morning, I met his worker at the house and showed him what needed to be done and left to attend to some business.

Now, like with most carpenters and handymen, it is essential that you keep an eye on them. Therefore I returned, about 3 hours later, only to find every wall, with even the smallest water stain, chiseled out ready to be re-cemented. Yes, I said every wall. I would have acted a straight ass on the mason, but we know each other and it might have made future social situations awkward. So after the worker confirmed I had instructed him to do only two rooms, the mason conceded and we agreed I would pay the same price for all the work. So, in the end, we both left happy. Ok, I am lying, I was probably happier than he was, but , hey, at least I wont be giving him shady eyes and talking smack about his work over the punchbowl at the next party. So what is the lesson learned from this? Sometimes the best blessings come in the form of misunderstandings, because I just won the handyman lottery!!

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When You Rule The World

It is my luck in life that I had the privilege of going to a Historically Black College and University, Jackson State University. Now nearly a decade after my graduation and one year living in Accra, I see the true benefit of being a majority in a society. 

When I was in college, I never wondered if the white guys in the class didn’t talk to me because I was black and I never thought someone received a better grade than me because he was white. When I decided to go natural my classmates didn’t immediately rush up to me and ask why I cut my hair or could they touch it. Going to an HBCU was an empowering experience.
Now since I live in Accra, I find myself with the same sense of freedom. Here I don’t wonder if I was passed by for an opportunity because of my skin or hair texture. The glass ceiling doesn’t seem nearly as thick as it did in the States and I never have to hear my white counterparts make slick racists jokes, and it’s all because blacks are the majority.
Having these experiences have made me realize the confidence you get from being the majority of the population. When everyone around you looks like you, you dream a little larger. You feel that if you missed an opportunity or were passed over it is because you didn’t prepare enough; because when you are the majority there is no need for a scapegoat. It makes it easier to determine when someone is laughing with you versus laughing at you, because hell, who would be foolish enough to insult a man who makes up the majority. 

Guess who posted African
A few months ago, a restaurant was shut down because a woman tried to attend and was not let in. When she inquired why she wasn’t let in, the door guy joked it was an all white establishment; within hours Ghana Police showed up shut it down and arrested the owners. Why? Well, we all know why, it’s good to be the majority. 

I have learned that being a majority also makes it ok to joke about your weakness, as a culture, without being ashamed. It makes it ok to enjoy art with black faces and red lips. It gives you the ability to laugh at stereotypical portrayals of yourself and it makes you feel like it’s ok to appreciate art that some in your culture find offensive. 

But then again, like I said, it’s good to be the majority.
Until Next Time. Smooches.