Is it a good idea to move back to Nigeria?
It seems like everyday there’s another one of your friends is moving back to the promised land of Nigeria for a shot at making big. Growing up and attending school in the UK, America and South Africa, etc. Our generation seems to be leading the great diaspora exodus from the comfortable Western world and jumping back into Nigeria for a chance to “make it”.
But for those of us who aren’t yet convinced that moving back to Nigeria is the right move for us, there are typically a couple of questions that come to mind: – Are there are any real opportunities there that I can’t find anywhere else?
– How do I even get situated in the job market and meet the people who can help me find a job?
– What things should I be looking out for to make sure I don’t get hustled?
– Should I ask for the same salary I made before?
As the founder of a recruitment firm specializing in connecting diaspora returnees (Nigerians who have studied/worked abroad) with top companies in Nigeria and a returnee myself, I’ve faced all of these questions and more. Here is some advice for you on the areas with the biggest opportunity and some helpful do’s and don’ts.
Ready to move back?
Employers want what you’re offering. Diaspora Nigerians (aka repats) are the ideal package for employers as they help bridge the capacity gap in-country while simultaneously fulfilling local content obligations. As Nigeria becomes more globally competitive, repats are in the best position to maximize on the opportunities that accompany such growth.
Those on the fence about moving back are being seduced by the promise of endless champagne nights, parties, and lucrative money making ventures. However, as likely as this may be, it’s extremely important to make sure that you are fully prepared for dealing with all sides of Nigeria, not just the glitz and the glam. You must have a clear plan about meeting your basic needs, that aren’t so basic in Nigeria (e.g. housing, transportation, electricity), otherwise you are on a fast-track to misery and likely to leave without maximizing your full potential, but I digress!
All things being equal, lets assume you’re prepared for the move, let’s move on to what opportunities are on ground that aren’t available in more developed markets.
Opportunity: Old dog, new tricks
Major multinationals that have been on the continent for decades have refocused their global priorities to favor their sub-Saharan markets, Nigeria, in particular. Their increased investment is due to the market size opportunity available here. Several companies have instated specific programs for moving diaspora Nigerians to work full time in Nigeria indefinitely or for a set period of time; if you’re working in a company that has an office in Nigeria, definitely enquire about this, and move back corporate style.
Nigeria’s new wave of transition has led to an increase in development projects in established industries such as infrastructure (power, water, roads, etc.), agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunications, , healthcare, you name it! Innovation is driving Nigeria at the moment, so you have to find the right opportunity at a major firm for what you are passionate about and drive it home.
This is the golden goose for young Nigerian professionals considering moving back. Start-ups are great ventures to move back to work for, especially if you have long-term entrepreneurial ambitions. I actually moved back with a popular ecommerce company many moons ago and my experience there was invaluable! They are extremely ambitious, have long-term growth strategies for Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, and are looking for repatriated talent that has local understanding to really drive their objectives. There is immense opportunity for growth but just make sure you do your research on the right ones to join and ask detailed questions about your role, responsibilities, short-term and long-term objectives. If you are on the same page, the sky is the limit with a start-up.
Do your thang
If you have a bright idea, pursue it. Do this intelligently and fearlessly. The opportunity potential here is true, the time for new ideas is not dead, even if someone is doing what you want to do, the market is big enough for both of you. I have friends that own bakeries, fashion labels, financial services companies, blogs, consulting firms, farms, you name it and are actually successful (no expensive hobbies here). If you know what you want to do, do some serious research, speak to the right people, and carry-out your plan. If you provide a great service, you will have clients. This is a huge consumer population with growing pockets. Create, plan, and deliver.
DO be open minded to different opportunities that you wouldn’t have previously considered. You moved back for a change, so go ahead and try something different.
DON’T just take any job that has the highest paycheck. Find something you’re passionate about and don’t feel pressured into a role that you won’t perform in.
DO network with people that have different backgrounds. This is the best way to find new opportunities and friends that can help you get acclimated in a new city.
DON’T have an entitled attitude. If you’re coming from abroad people are looking for you to show that, so surprise them. DO find things to do that remind you of your life back home (e.g. weekly manicure, grocery shopping/cooking, intramural sports teams). Moving back can move you out of your normal routine so find the things that keep you sane and feeling settled. DO keep following She Leads Africa to stay motivated and help you achieve your dreams
This is an area that causes frustration for both returnees, the employers and the recruiter (aka me). Employers tend to find repats “entitled” for expecting higher pay than market rate; repats expect to be paid internationally competitive salary’s given their education, and experience in other markets, and I, the recruiter, am stuck in the middle!
When discussing salary with potential employers, it’s always best to do the following: Research – what are companies in Nigeria offering from the role you are interested in Transparency & Flexibility- Let your expectations be known but also be open to reasonable negotiation Be a saleswoman – Sell yourself girl! (not in the pretty woman way) but be confident about your skillset, value, and why you are worth the amount that you are asking for
If you take these 3 tips into consideration, you will be in a better position to get what you want, or at least close to it. It works for other people, why not you.
Your network is your net worth. Networking is vital in this community and is the best way to open doors for your career Just Do It. Don’t waste time over planning or overanalyzing every decision, you lose valuable time and time is money. Breathe! Nigeria can be a very frustrating climate to operate in, especially when you are used to certain procedures abroad. In order to not to be frustrated 75% of the time you should accept that things work differently here and not freak out when things don’t go seamlessly.
I love sharing advice on how to make sure your return to Nigeria is a positive one. If you have more questions, add them to the comments below or find me at ResourceNigeria.com.
Lola Coker is the founder of Resource Nigeria, a recruitment firm based in Lagos, Nigeria
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