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Blog Archive


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Start Up tips for returning expats.

The number of Africans relocating from the diaspora has increased significantly in the last 8 years. The reasons they are flocking back are various, but generally it seems an air of optimism about the continent has a lot to do with it. Though some go straight into formal employment, most end up plunging head-first into business, where they encounter the same challenges that local entrepreneurs dread. If you are one of those planning to start a business when you get back home, it’ll help to take note of the following tips, even if they have a sparkling business school diploma.
  • Unlike the US & UK, local banks are not exactly doing flips to give you credit unless you have a payslip. Starting a business takes time so plan to put away at least a years living expenses before you come back (more if you have kids)
  • Venture Capital is difficult to come by - most well heeled Kenyans would rather sit at a table counting their silver than risk it investing in you. Other traditional sources like friends and family also don't have much to offer by way of personal savings, so it helps if you have something to offer the banks as collateral. Hooray! if you bought property here while you were away, you could use that to get the banks attention.
  • Try and get all the legal stuff sorted before you board the plane, that way you will spend less time in government corridors doing admin tasks. (remember you have a limited number of months expenses saved up)
  • Avoid loose estimates when doing the financials for your business plan; the price of everything in Kenya sky rocketed while you were away. So if you can afford it, try and use a reputable agency for quality research results.
  • Remember it can be frustrating when systems don't work as well as they should, but being a local makes it easier for you than a foreigner. Just don't get tempted to bribe your way through. Apart from being plain wrong, those things have a habit of coming back and biting you in the behind.
  • Another huge plus for you is that your international exposure will give you an edge in service delivery which is where too many local businesses fail. You will be able to use your understanding of service expectations to differentiate your business from the mob.

So if home-sickness is getting the better of you and you’ve decided to come back home, give your start-up a fighting chance by planning properly. Step up your savings, reflect on your business idea and try and gather all the information you need to crystallize your plan. Fire up your PC and use the web to network with potential investors & begin to work on your elevator pitch. Your start-up will thank you.


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