When I first moved to Accra last year, I must admit it was lonely. After all, I had no friends and no family, and although English is the country’s official language, many prefer to speak a local dialect, which left me lost in translation. Slowly but surely though, I soon discovered the number of young, entrepreneurs in Ghana was more than I ever expected.
Today, I am proud to say, that I can think of at least twenty young people (under 35) who have traded in their corporate American jobs, either willingly or unwillingly, for the tough terrain of Africa. Why, you may ask yourself. Because we all understand the potential returns. We also all understand that for young people in America, opportunities just aren’t what they used to be.
According to some experts, many people between the ages of 25-35 will reach their career goals later. They may also never get an opportunity to buy a house and will definitely not start a family during the recommended years. It also means many people in this age group will be financially dependent on their parents for longer than they expected – if they are lucky enough to have that as a windfall.
If not, the next 10 years may be pretty rough for them. That is, unless they decide to take control of their future. Living in Ghana has truly convinced me of the opportunity that exists in Africa for young entrepreneurs. With a booming telecommunications sector, a growing agriculture sector and a fashion market, that is breaking out globally, the opportunities for the young and creative are limitless.
If you are able to capitalise on loans and grant funding for projects, your reward has the potential to be even higher. This doesn’t mean that it will be an easy ride though. The most successful entrepreneurs will be flexible, willing to adapt their ideas, products and services continually. They will also be dedicated, willing to put in long hours and sacrifice many of the comforts they have grown used to in the Western world. But most importantly they will have to have great foresight.
They will have to understand how to adapt modern products and services to a still growing market. And they will think outside of the box to develop solutions that not only have an impact on the market, but in the communities they serve as well.
However, once all of these ingredients are successfully combined, the sky is the limit. One year and one business in, I don’t regret one day of it. Now, you just have to decide if you have what it takes. So what do you say, do you think you could survive?
Cordie Aziz is a former congressional staffer who relocated to Ghana in 2011 after losing her job. She is passionate about encouraging young entrepreneurs to do business in Africa and helping people actualise their dreams. For tips and advice find her on twitter @GoneiiGhana.