The Challenge of returning home
There are many brilliant minds who have left the continent in search of a better education and better opportunities for work. It is easy to accept this phenomenon if we think that the final target is to acquire relevant and solid expertise that will be used to benefit their respective countries and lead to economic development. However, it is often observed that students who travel abroad to pursue their studies usually feel some hesitation at the prospects of returning to their home countries after completing their studies.
There is no surer means of developing Africa than through the efforts of her citizens who have gone to study in foreign countries. In addition, they must take up the challenge of returning home, in order to create and develop their countries. Africa is in great need of her returning Diaspora. On the other hand, we cannot over state the importance of attractive opportunities, this will enable the returning Diaspora to easily integrate and participate in wealth creation. When we speak of wealth creation, we mean ‘‘the creation of new sources of wealth’’. This is because the last thing Africa needs is the return of over qualified citizens, whose sole aim is to find a stable job and cling to it no matter the consequences. Such state of mind will certainly not resolve Africa’s current issues.
Nurturing an entrepreneurial state of mind
Without any doubt, Africa needs innovation and creativity. This means the ability to detect problems in the society and find solutions to
resolve them. In fact, ideas that may seem simple in more developed economies can become innovative projects if they are adapted to the local environment and if they can cater to the basic needs of the African population. In this respect, entrepreneurship is the best way to bring about an economic boom across the continent. There is nothing more important than the creation of companies and innovative start-ups which will improve the daily life of people and at the same time create employment. The latter not only decreases unemployment but will also allow the other Africans in the Diaspora to realize that it is possible to make a difference with a little consistency and a touch of creativity. Fortunately, it seems like this state of mind is slowly spreading amongst the African Diaspora. Although the beginnings of this movement seem slow, we still see entrepreneurial initiatives spear headed by young graduates of the African Diaspora springing up. We are proud of their efforts and we urge them to continue in this path so that their projects can serve as models to others who wish to return home and launch out their businesses.
Entrepreneurs from the African Diaspora who have returned home
Abdoulaye Touré, a young Senegalese engineer, is a graduate of France’s Ecole Polytechnique. He specialised in the field of Energy. With six other young graduates, most of them Senegalese, he founded a start-up company called Baobab Entrepreneurship. The aim of this company is to promote entrepreneurship in Senegal through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Abdoulaye is of the opinion that Africa presents a lot of opportunities that entrepreneurs can take advantage of, as there are many problems and unsatisfied needs which need solution-driven minds. Furthermore, one of the factors that prevent the African Diaspora from coming home is the fact that they are already well integrated in the professional standards in the Western world. However, this can be resolved by increasing from France the career and entrepreneurial opportunities that exist in Africa.
Olabissi Adjovi is another entrepreneur of the Diaspora. He is from Benin but he is based in France and conducts his business in Senegal. He founded a start-up, Ouicarry, with some of his Senegalese colleagues. The objective of the start-up is to enable the mailing and delivery of parcels to and from Paris and Dakar. For him, Africa’s major advantage is the prospects for growth that the continent presents. Also, one of the reasons that people of the African Diaspora do not return home is because before their departure they did not have a firm intention to return home after completing their studies. He is convinced that if more young people lead by example, others will be convinced to take the leap.
Malick Diof is another Senegalese entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of the startup-Lafricamobile. It offers communications solutions for African companies and the Diaspora around the world. For him, one of the important features that encourage entrepreneurship in Africa is the flexibility of clients, suppliers, employees, etc. Also, the labor force is becoming qualified and hirable at competitive rates. However, the lack of infrastructure prevents people from returning home. Malick believes that one of the ways to persuade young people of the Diaspora is to challenge them and highlight that they have an important role to play in the economic development of their respective countries. He is greatly convinced that Africa can and will only be developed by her sons and daughters. That is why he is motivated to do his bit.
In conclusion, it is encouraging to see initiatives spear-headed by people of the African Diaspora flourish. These entrepreneurs have dared look beyond the assumptions of logistic difficulties and tough conditions of Doing Business by launching their own projects. We hope that this generation of entrepreneurs will inspire a movement of innovation across the continent.
Translated by Onyinyechi Ananaba